Wednesday, May 31, 2006

Chetan Bhagat on how to protest

Chetan Bhagat has some advice for the anti-quota protestors


I will only take some lessons from a senior person in the media and try to give some tips to the activists to make sure their protests are more effective. After all, the point of making a noise is to be heard. And to be heard, one doesn't have to burn himself -- that is foolish and a one-time flash in the pan. If you want to do an effective protest, learn from the past masters -- and who better than Mahatma Gandhi.

In photographs, Mahatma Gandhi is a frail, saintly figure. However, what is often ignored is his magical ability to make a point and attract attention. He had no advertising budgets or PR managers. There were very few media outlets then. And he had only one, constant -- freedom. Yet, he dominated media space for decades and ultimately won. There is no reason why we cannot learn a few tips from him, some of which I list below. And you can get these checked by any media professional; they would tend to agree that this is a way to get yourself heard.

1. Keep a visual -- This is vital in today's multimedia world. Newspapers need to be colourful to compete with television, and a television is not a television without a visual. Gandhi kept a visual -- salt march (everyone remembers the scooping of salt), burning British made clothes, operating the charkha and more. Placards are boring. Do something else -- a huge bonfire, human chains -- be creative, make it easier for NDTV. They will come, I promise.

2. Emotions more than Reason -- Whenever activists talk to the media, always keep emotions in the forefront. Brooding anger, tears, banging fists is far more interesting than statistics on caste based demographics. Tell people what you think about the issue -- you are on the editorial page. Tell people what you feel about the issue -- you are on the front page.

3. Intentions more than Action -- This is a trick most used by our politicians even today. In reality, actions alone matter. However, our politicians keep saying 'our intention is to lift the backward castes', and they almost sound reasonable. Of course, the actions only divide the country and kill merit -- but they hide in the garb of purported good intentions. Protestors can do the same. They may be blocking traffic -- but harp on the intentions: 'But this is for Saraswati mata -- knowledge should decide'. (Think about it -- the politicians will be scared to take on Saraswati mata or if you mix any religious sentiment in your favour). Alongside, attack the other party's intentions -- 'they are only doing reservations for selfish political gain' (which is probably true).

4. Don't hurt yourself -- Burning yourself or even hunger strikes are very dangerous tools. There is no guarantee they will be effective. If they don't work, you will be seen as weak. Gandhi used a hunger strike rarely, and only after he had decades of experience.

5. Find a simple, interesting slogan -- Gandhi always had a simple slogan. It gives two benefits -- one it makes it easier to pass through word of mouth with minimal distortion. Secondly, it fits into the limited headline space in newspapers. In media terms, this is called 'the hook'. The reservation movement has no slogan yet. Find one. My suggestions: "No suck-up politics" OR "India on Merit only"

The above points are important to make your cause heard. Ignore them and the world will ignore you. Play them right and the media is on your side. Trust me; the reservation issue has bothered a lot of people in the media too.

I personally feel very strongly against reservations, and I wish the agitators all the best. I give the above tips as my small contribution towards tackling this monumental issue that will take effort from all of us. I am writing this article for an online site so that you can forward it to all friends who feel the same about reservations.

You are standing up for fairness, God will be with you. Stay strong, stay inspired.

Tuesday, May 30, 2006

Knowledge Commission resignations

Here are the letters of resignation of two members of the Knowledge Commission.

Read them ..

Pratap Bhanu Mehta

Andre Beteille

Monday, May 29, 2006

10 tips for startup entrepreneurs

1. If you have to, be willing to lower your standard of living for a while - take fewer (or no) vacations and cut back on nonessentials like eating out - while trying to get your business off the ground.
It often comes as a shock to former corporate employees just how much it really costs to fund their own health insurance and pony up 100% of their own payroll taxes, among myriad other expenses. Better not book any Caribbean cruises for a while.

2. Be prepared to do a lot of everything, from answering the phones to changing the light bulbs, before you start hiring people to handle these details.
Once you've left the corporate womb, it's all up to you. There's no one to call when the plumbing backs up or your computer system crashes. If you're an energetic jack-of-all-trades type, terrific - but line up a reliable local techie who makes house calls, just in case.

3. Is the main reason you want to start your own company your unhapiness in your current job? Check that.
"Not everyone is cut out to run a business," notes Terri Lonier, a longtime entrepreneur and counselor to the self-employed whose web site,, offers a free monthly e-newsletter for business owners. "You really have to be ruthless in assessing your strengths and weaknesses. If you yearn to go out on your own mostly because you're unhappy in your current position, you'd probably be better off looking for another job instead."

4. You have enough savings stockpiled that you could pay your bills for three full years, even if your business doesn't show any profit during that time.
This one speaks for itself: Most businesses take three years to break even (if they last that long), so you need to have plenty of cash on hand. Of course, it is possible to finance a start-up by taking out a second or third mortgage and maxing out the credit cards, but... wouldn't you rather be able to sleep at night?

5. Successful entrepreneurs have to be good salespeople.
If you think "sell" is a four-letter word, you're in trouble already. Many experts say the most-overlooked cause of new-business failure is that fledgling entrepreneurs are reluctant to get out there and sell what they've got - especially if they come from a structured corporate environment where sales was always someone else's job.

6. You must have a tendency to bounce back quickly when things don't go as smoothly as you expected.
To hear successful business-owners tell it, getting a new company up and running is usually a matter of three steps forward, two steps back. If you have trouble dealing with unpleasant surprises, your first year or two as an entrepreneur may send you running back to the corporate fold.

7. Business owners don't need to do as much networking as corporate employees do.
Skill at schmoozing is valuable in any job, but for small-business owners it can spell the difference between thriving and starving. In most corporate jobs, a wealth of connections - with customers, potential employees, vendors, suppliers, and financial backers - is already in place when you walk in the door. To run your own show effectively, you have to spin that complex web of relationships yourself.

8. Starting a business is your own decision, but you have to discuss it in great detail with spouse or family.

Over and over again, entrepreneurs and the folks who advise them say that opposition from a spouse or life partner, or from kids who resent the fact that you're never home anymore, can strain a new business to the breaking point. Linda McCormack quit her job as a Bankers Trust loan officer 10 years ago to start a web-design firm called Pixellence, in Sea Cliff, N.Y. But first, she got her husband's full support. "Starting a business is stressful enough," she says. "If you had to come home every day to someone who said, 'Why are you doing this?' it would be just impossible."

9. It's a good idea to hire an accountant with a lot of experience in handling the special tax issues that small businesses face.
Entrepreneurs have to deal with a complicated barrage of IRS strictures and requirements, and trying to figure them out on your own can lead to some pretty expensive mistakes. Get references from current business owners - your dentist, your dry cleaner or someone else you trust - and hire an accountant who can guide you through everything from writing off office equipment to the correct tax treatment of bad debts.

10. Start-ups in general are risky, but don’t assume your business plan is so brilliant that you think you can be wealthy within a few years.
Tom Culley, a former McKinsey consultant who has been involved in dozens of start-ups in Brazil and the U.S., has seen countless would-be tycoons give up in frustration when they don't achieve instant riches. "Ninety-nine times out of 100, it takes many years of grueling, gritty, sweaty work to create a profitable company," says Culley, who's written a wonderfully clear-eyed book, Beating the Odds in Small Business (Fireside, $24.95). "My rule is, survival first, then success - however long it takes." He adds: "Slow ain't sexy, but it sure beats falling on your face."

Thursday, May 25, 2006

Karan Thapar interviews Arjun Singh - Transcript

Karan Thapar: Hello and welcome to the Devil's Advocate. As the debate over the reservations for the OBCs divides the country, we ask: What are the government's real intentions? That is the critical questions that I shall put today in an exclusive interview to the Minister for Human Resource Development Arjun Singh.

Karan Thapar:Most of the people would accept that steps are necessary to help the OBCs gain greater access to higher education. The real question is: Why do you believe that reservations is the best way of doing this?

Arjun Singh: I wouldn't like to say much more on this because these are decisions that are taken not by individuals alone. And in this case, the entire Parliament of this country - almost with rare unanimity - has decided to take this decision.

Karan Thapar: Except that Parliament is not infallible. In the Emergency, when it amended the Constitution, it was clearly wrong, it had to reverse its own amendments. So, the question arises: Why does Parliament believe that the reservation is the right way of helping the OBCs?

Arjun Singh: Nobody is infallible. But Parliament is Supreme and at least I, as a Member of Parliament, cannot but accept the supremacy of Parliament.

Karan Thapar: No doubt Parliament is supreme, but the Constitutional amendment that gives you your authorities actually enabling amendment, it is not a compulsory requirement. Secondly, the language of the amendment does not talk about reservations, the language talks about any provision by law for advancement of socially and educationally backward classes. So, you could have chosen anything other than reservations, why reservations?

Arjun Singh: Because as I said, that was the 'will and desire of the Parliament'.

Karan Thapar: Do you personally also, as Minister of Human Resource Development, believe that reservations is the right and proper way to help the OBCs?

Arjun Singh: Certainly, that is one of the most important ways to do it.

Karan Thapar: The right way?

Arjun Singh: Also the right way.

Karan Thapar: In which case, lets ask a few basic questions. We are talking about the reservations for the OBCs in particular. Do you know what percentage of the Indian population is OBC? Mandal puts it at 52 per cent, the National Sample Survey Organisation (NSSO) at 32 per cent, the National Family and Health Survey at 29.8 per cent, which is the correct figure?

Arjun Singh: I think that should be decided by people who are more knowledgeable. But the point is that the OBCs form a fairly sizeable percentage of our population.

Karan Thapar: No doubt, but the reason why it is important to know 'what percentage' they form is that if you are going to have reservations for them, then you must know what percentage of the population they are, otherwise you don't know whether they are already adequately catered to in higher educational institutions or not.

Arjun Singh: That is obvious - they are not.

Karan Thapar: Why is it obvious?

Arjun Singh: Obvious because it is something which we all see.

Karan Thapar: Except for the fact that the NSSO, which is a government appointed body, has actually in its research in 1999 - which is the most latest research shown - that 23.5 per cent of all university seats are already with the OBCs. And that is just 8.5 per cent less than what the NSSO believes is the OBC share of the population. So, for a difference of 8 per cent, would reservations be the right way of making up the difference?

Arjun Singh: I wouldn't like to go behind all this because, as I said, Parliament has taken a view and it has taken a decision, I am a servant of Parliament and I will only implement.

Karan Thapar: Absolutely, Parliament has taken a view, I grant it. But what people question is the simple fact - Is there a need for reservations? If you don't know what percentage of the country is OBC and if, furthermore, the NSSO is correct in pointing out that already 23.5 per cent of the college seats are with the OBC, then you don't have a case in terms of need.

Arjun Singh: College seats, I don't know.

Karan Thapar: According to the NSSO - which is a government appointed body - 23.5 per cent of the college seats are already with the OBCs.

Arjun Singh: What do you mean by college seats?

Karan Thapar: University seats, seats of higher education.

Arjun Singh: Well, I don't know I have not come across that so far.

Karan Thapar: So, when critics say to you that you don't have a case for reservation in terms of need, what do you say to them?

Arjun Singh: I have said what I had to say and the point is that that is not an issue for us to now debate.

Karan Thapar: You mean the chapter is now closed?

Arjun Singh: The decision has been taken.

Karan Thapar: Regardless of whether there is a need or not, the decision is taken and it is a closed chapter.

Arjun Singh: So far as I can see, it is a closed chapter and that is why I have to implement what all Parliament has said.

Karan Thapar: Minister, it is not just in terms of 'need' that your critics question the decision to have reservation for OBCs in higher education. More importantly, they question whether reservations themselves are efficacious and can work.
For example, a study done by the IITs themselves shows that 50 per cent of the IIT seats for the SCs and STs remain vacant, and for the remaining 50 per cent, 25 per cent are the candidates who even after six years fail to get their degrees. So, clearly, in their case, reservations are not working.

Arjun Singh: I would only say that on this issue, it would not be correct to go by all these figures that have been paraded.

Karan Thapar: You mean the IIT figures themselves could be dubious?

Arjun Singh: Not dubious, but I think that is not the last word.

Karan Thapar: All right, maybe the IIT may not be the last word, let me then quote to you the report of the Parliamentary Committee on the welfare for the Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes - that is a Parliamentary body.
It says, that looking at the Delhi University, between 1995 and 2000, just half the seats for under-graduates at the Scheduled Castes level and just one-third of the seats for under-graduates at the Scheduled Tribes level were filled. All the others went empty, unfilled. So, again, even in Delhi University, reservations are not working.

Arjun Singh: If they are not working, it does not mean that for that reason we don't need them. There must be some other reason why they are not working and that can be certainly probed and examined. But to say that for this reason, 'no reservations need to be done' is not correct.

Karan Thapar: Fifty years after the reservations were made, statistics show, according to The Hindustan Times, that overall in India, only 16 per cent of the places in higher education are occupied by SCs and STs. The quota is 22.5 per cent, which means that only two-thirds of the quota is occupied. One-third is going waste, it is being denied to other people.

Arjun Singh: As I said, the kind of figures that have been brought out, in my perception, do not reflect the realities. Realities are something much more and, of course, there is an element of prejudice also.

Karan Thapar: But these are figures that come from a Parliamentary Committee. It can't be prejudiced; they are your own colleagues.

Arjun Singh: Parliamentary Committee has given the figures, but as to why this has not happened, that is a different matter.

Karan Thapar: I put it to you that you don't have a case for reservations in terms of need, you don't have a case for reservations in terms of their efficacy, why then, are you insisting on extending them to the OBCs?

Arjun Singh: I don't want to use that word, but I think that your argument is basically fallacious.
Karan Thapar: But it is based on all the facts available in the public domain.

Arjun Singh: Those are facts that need to be gone into with more care. What lies behind those facts, why this has not happened, that is also a fact.

Karan Thapar: Let’s approach the issue of reservations differently in that case. Reservations mean that a lesser-qualified candidate gets preference over a more qualified candidate, solely because in this case, he or she happens to be an OBC. In other words, the upper castes are being penalised for being upper caste.

Arjun Singh: Nobody is being penalised and that is a factor that we are trying to address. I think that the Prime Minister will be talking to all the political parties and will be putting forward a formula, which will see that nobody is being penalised.

Karan Thapar: I want very much to talk about that formula, but before we come to talk about how you are going to address concerns, let me point one other corollary: Reservations also gives preference and favour to caste over merit. Is that acceptable in a modern society?

Arjun Singh: I don't think the perceptions of modern society fit India entirely.

Karan Thapar: You mean India is not a modern society and therefore can't claim to be treated as one?

Arjun Singh: It is emerging as a modern society, but the parameters of a modern society do not apply to large sections of the people in this country.

Karan Thapar: Let me quote to you Jawaharlal Nehru, a man whom you personally admire enormously. On the 27th of June 1961 wrote to the Chief Ministers of the day as follows: I dislike any kind of reservations. If we go in for any kind of reservations on communal and caste basis, we will swamp the bright and able people and remain second-rate or third-rate. The moment we encourage the second-rate, we are lost. And then he adds pointedly: This way lies not only folly, but also disaster. What do you say to Jawaharlal Nehru today?

Arjun Singh: Jawaharlal Nehru was a great man in his own right and not only me, but everyone in India accept his view.

Karan Thapar: But you are just about to ignore his advice.

Arjun Singh: No. Are you aware that it was Jawaharlal Nehru who introduced the first amendment regarding OBCs?

Karan Thapar: Yes, and I am talking about Jawaharlal Nehru in 1961, when clearly he had changed his position, he said, “I dislike any kind of reservations”.

Arjun Singh: I don't think one could take Panditji's position at any point of time and then overlook what he had himself initiated.

Karan Thapar: Am I then to understand that regardless of the case that is made against reservations in terms of need, regardless of the case that has been made against reservations in terms of efficacy, regardless of the case that has been made against reservations in terms of Jawaharlal Nehru, you remain committed to extending reservations to the OBCs.

Arjun Singh: I said because that is the will of Parliament. And I think that common decisions that are taken by Parliament have to be honoured.

Karan Thapar: Let me ask you a few basic questions. If reservations are going to happen for the OBCs in higher education, what percentage of reservations are we talking about?

Arjun Singh: No, that I can't say because that has yet to be decided.

Karan Thapar: One, then, last quick question. Do you think this is an issue, which is a sensitive issue, where everyone knew there would have been passions and emotions that would have been aroused has been handled as effectively as it should have been?

Arjun Singh: Well, I have not done anything on it. I have not, sort of what you call, jumped the gun. If this is an issue, which is sensitive, everyone has to treat it that way.

Karan Thapar: But your conscience as HRD Minister is clear?

Arjun Singh: Absolutely clear.

Karan Thapar: There is nothing that you could have done to make it easier for the young students?

Arjun Singh: Well, I am prepared to do anything that can be done. And it is being attempted.

Karan Thapar: For seven weeks, they have been protesting in the hot sun. No minister has gone there to appease them, to allay their concerns, to express sympathy for them. Have politicians let the young people of India down?

Arjun Singh: Well, I myself called them. They all came in this very room.

Karan Thapar: But you are the only one.

Arjun Singh: You are accusing me only. No one else is being accused.

Karan Thapar: What about the Government of India? Has the Government of India failed to respond adequately?

Arjun Singh: From the Government of India also, the Defence Minister met them.

Karan Thapar: Only recently.

Arjun Singh: That is something because everyone was busy with the elections.

Karan Thapar: For seven weeks no one met them.

Arjun Singh: No, but we are very concerned. Certainly, all of us resent the kind of force that was used. I condemned it the very first day it happened.

Karan Thapar: All right, Mr Arjun Singh. We have reached the end of this interview. Thank you very much for speaking on the subject.

Arjun Singh: I can't say anything on that, I have told you in the very beginning that at this point of time it is not possible for me to.

Karan Thapar: Quite right. If you can't say, then that also means that the figure has not been decided.

Arjun Singh: The figure will be decided, it has not been decided yet.

Karan Thapar: The figure has not been decided. So, therefore the figure could be 27, but it could be less than 27, too?

Arjun Singh: I don't want to speculate on that because as I said, that is a decision which will be taken by Parliament.

Karan Thapar: Whatever the figure, one thing is certain that when the reservations for OBCs happen, the total quantum of reservations will go up in percentage terms. Will you compensate by increasing the total number of seats in colleges, universities, IITs and IIMs so that the other students don't feel deprived.

Arjun Singh: That is one of the suggestions that has been made and is being seriously considered.

Karan Thapar: Does it find favour with you as a Minister for Human Resource Development?

Arjun Singh: Whatever suggestion comes, we are committed to examine it.

Karan Thapar: You may be committed to examine it, but do you as minister believe that that is the right way forward?

Arjun Singh: That could be one of the ways, but not the only way.

Karan Thapar: What are the other ways?

Arjun Singh: I don't know. That is for the Prime Minister and the other ministers to decide.

Karan Thapar: One way forward would be to increase the total number of seats.

Arjun Singh: Yes, definitely.

Karan Thapar: But the problem is that, as the Times of India points out, we are talking of an increase of perhaps as much as 53 per cent. Given the constraints you have in terms of faculty and infrastructure, won't that order of increase dilute the quality of education?

Arjun Singh: I would only make one humble request, don't go by The Times of India and The Hindustan Times about faculty and infrastructure, because they are trying to focus on an argument which they have made.

Karan Thapar: All right, I will not go by The Times of India, let me instead go by Sukhdev Thorat, the Chairman of the UGC. He points out that today, at higher education levels - that is all universities, IITs and IIMs - there is already a 1.2 lakh vacancy number. Forty per cent of these are in teaching staff, which the IIT faculty themselves point out that they have shortages of up to 30 per cent. Given those two constraint, can you increase the number of seats?

Arjun Singh: That can be addressed and that shortage can be taken care of.

Karan Thapar: But it can't be taken care of in one swoop, it will take several years to do it.

Arjun Singh: I don't know whether it can be taken care of straightway or in stages, that is a subject to be decided.

Karan Thapar: Let me ask you bluntly, if you were to agree to compensate for reservations for OBCs by increasing the number of seats, would that increase happen at one go, or would it be staggered over a period of two-three or four year old process.

Arjun Singh: As I told you, it is an issue that I cannot comment upon at this moment because that is under examination.

Karan Thapar: So, it may happen in one go and it may happen in a series of several years.

Arjun Singh: I can't speculate on that because that is not something on which I am free to speak on today.

Karan Thapar: Will the reservation for OBCs, whatever figure your Committee decides on, will it happen in one go, or will it slowly be introduced in stages?

Arjun Singh: That also I cannot say because, as I told you, all these issues are under consideration.

Karan Thapar: Which means that everything that is of germane interest to the people concerned is at the moment 'under consideration' and the government is not able to give any satisfaction to the students who are deeply concerned.

Arjun Singh: That is not the point. The government knows what to do and it will do what is needed.

Karan Thapar: But if the government knows what to do, why won't you tell me what the government wants to do?

Arjun Singh: Because unless the decision is taken, I cannot tell you.

Karan Thapar: But you can share with me as the minister what you are thinking.

Arjun Singh: No.

Karan Thapar: So, in other words, we are manitaining a veil of secrecy and the very people who are concerned...

Arjun Singh: I am not maintaining a veil of secrecy. I am only telling you what propriety allows me to tell you.

Karan Thapar: Propriety does not allow you to share with the people who are protesting on the streets what you are thinking of?

Arjun Singh: I don't think that that can happen all the time.

Karan Thapar: But there are people who feel that their lives and their futures are at stake and they are undertaking fasts until death.

Arjun Singh: It is being hyped up, I don't want to go into that.

Karan Thapar: Do you have no sympathy for them?

Arjun Singh: I have every sympathy.

Karan Thapar: But you say it is being hyped up.

Arjun Singh: Yes, it is hyped up.

Karan Thapar: So, then, what sympathy are you showing?

Arjun Singh: I am showing sympathy to them and not to those who are hyping it up.

Karan Thapar: The CPM says that if the reservations for the OBCs are to happen, then what is called the ‘creamy layer’ should be excluded. How do you react to that?

Arjun Singh: The ‘creamy layer’ issue has already been taken care of by the Supreme Court.

Karan Thapar: That was vis-a-vis jobs in employment, what about at the university level, should they be excluded there as well because you are suggesting that the answer is yes?

Arjun Singh: That could be possible.

Karan Thapar: It could be possible that the ‘creamy layer’ is excluded from reservations for OBCs in higher education?

Arjun Singh: It could be, but I don't know whether it would happen actually.

Karan Thapar: Many people say that if reservations for OBCs in higher education happen, then the children of beneficiaries should not be entitled to claim the same benefit.

Arjun Singh: Why?

Karan Thapar: So that there is always a shrinking base and the rate doesn't proliferate.

Arjun Singh: I don't think that that is a very logical way of looking at it.

Karan Thapar: Is that not acceptable to you?

Arjun Singh: No, it is not the logical way of looking at it.

Karan Thapar: So, with the possible exception of the creamy layer exclusion, reservation for OBCs in higher education will be almost identical to the existing reservations for SC/STs?

Arjun Singh: Except for the percentage.

Karan Thapar: Except for the percentage.

Arjun Singh: Yes.

Karan Thapar: So, in every other way, they will be identical.

Arjun Singh: Yes, in every other way.

Karan Thapar: Mr Arjun Singh, on the 5th of April when you first indicated that the Government was considering reservation for OBCs in higher education, was the Prime Minister in agreement that this was the right thing to do?

Arjun Singh: I think, there is a very motivated propaganda on this issue. Providing reservation to OBCs was in the public domain right from December 2005, when Parliament passed the enabling resolution.

Karan Thapar: Quite true. But had the Prime Minister specifically agreed on or before 5th of April to the idea?

Arjun Singh: Well, I am telling you it was already there. A whole Act was made, the Constitution was amended and the Prime Minister was fully aware of what this is going to mean. Actually, he had a meeting in which OBC leaders were called to convince them that this would give them the desired advantage. And they should, therefore, support this resolution. And at that meeting, he himself talked to them. Now, how do you say that he was unaware?

Karan Thapar: But were you at all aware that the Prime Minister might be in agreement with what was about to happen but might not wish it disclosed publicly at that point of time? Were you aware of that?

Arjun Singh: It was already there in public domain, that's what I am trying to tell you.

Karan Thapar: Then answer this to me. Why are members of the PMO telling journalists that Prime Minister was not consulted and that you jumped the gun?

Arjun Singh: Well, I don't know which member of the PMO you are talking about unless you name him.

Karan Thapar: Is there a conspiracy to make you the Fall Guy?

Arjun Singh: Well, I don't know whether there is one or there is not. But Fall Guys are not made in this way. And I am only doing what was manifestly clear to every one, was cleared by the party and the Prime Minister. There is no question of any personal agenda.

Karan Thapar: They say that, in fact, you brought up this issue to embarrass the Prime Minister.

Arjun Singh: Why should I embarrass the Prime Minister? I am with him. I am part of his team.

Karan Thapar: They say that you have a lingering, forgive the word, jealousy because Sonia Gandhi chose Manmohan Singh and not you as Prime Minister.

Arjun Singh: Well, that is canard which is below contempt. Only that person can say this who doesn't know what kind of respect and regard I hold for Sonia Gandhi. She is the leader. Whatever she decides is acceptable to me.

Karan Thapar: They also say that you brought this issue up because you felt that the Prime Minister had been eating into your portfolio. Part of it had gone to Renuka Chaudhury and, in fact, your new deputy minister Purandar Sridevi had taken over certain parts. This was your way of getting back.

Arjun Singh: No one was taking over any part. This is a decision which the Prime Minister makes as to who has to have what portfolio. And he asked Mrs Renuka Devi to take it and he cleared it with me first.

Karan Thapar: So there is no animus on your part?

Arjun Singh: Absolutely not.

Karan Thapar: They say that you did this because you resented the Prime Minister's popular image in the country, that this was your way of embroiling him in a dispute that will make him look not like a modern reformer but like an old-fashioned, family-hold politician instead.

Arjun Singh: Well, the Tammany Hall political stage is over. He is our Prime Minister and every decision he has taken is in the full consent with his Cabinet and I don't think there can be any blame on him.

Karan Thapar: One, then, last quick question. Do you think this is an issue, which is a sensitive issue, where everyone knew there would have been passions and emotions that would have been aroused has been handled as effectively as it should have been?

Arjun Singh: Well, I have not done anything on it. I have not, sort of what you call, jumped the gun. If this is an issue, which is sensitive, everyone has to treat it that way.

Karan Thapar: But your conscience as HRD Minister is clear?

Arjun Singh: Absolutely clear.

Karan Thapar: There is nothing that you could have done to make it easier for the young students?

Arjun Singh: Well, I am prepared to do anything that can be done. And it is being attempted.

Karan Thapar: For seven weeks, they have been protesting in the hot sun. No minister has gone there to appease them, to allay their concerns, to express sympathy for them. Have politicians let the young people of India down?

Arjun Singh: Well, I myself called them. They all came in this very room.

Karan Thapar: But you are the only one.

Arjun Singh: You are accusing me only. No one else is being accused.

Karan Thapar: What about the Government of India? Has the Government of India failed to respond adequately?

Arjun Singh: From the Government of India also, the Defence Minister met them.

Karan Thapar: Only recently.

Arjun Singh: That is something because everyone was busy with the elections.

Karan Thapar: For seven weeks no one met them.

Arjun Singh: No, but we are very concerned. Certainly, all of us resent the kind of force that was used. I condemned it the very first day it happened.

Karan Thapar: All right, Mr Arjun Singh. We have reached the end of this interview. Thank you very much for speaking on the subject.

Tuesday, May 23, 2006

Role Play??

1) Project Manager is a Person who thinks nine women can deliver a baby in One month.

2) Developer is a Person who thinks it will take 18 months to deliver a Baby.

3) Onsite Coordinator is one who thinks single woman can deliver nine babies in one month.

4) Client is the one who doesn't know why he wants a baby.

5) Marketing Manager is a person who thinks he can deliver a baby even if no man and woman are available.

6) Resource Optimization Team thinks they don't need a man or woman; they'll produce a child with zero resources.

7) Documentation Team thinks they don't care whether the child is delivered, they'll just document 9 months.

8) Quality Auditor is the person who is never happy with the PROCESS to Produce a baby.

9) Tester is a person who always tells his wife that this is the Right baby

Brand YOU

In a conversation, when you happen to talk about your boss, what are the adjectives that come to your mind? Arrogant? Ruthless? Caring? Sensitive? Well, the responses may vary from person to person, depending on the relationship that one shares with his/her dearest reporting authority. But, today things have changed.

With the scarcity of relevant talent in the market, the super bosses from across industries are taking the initiative to alter that perception. After having done with branding your organisation as an ideal employer, chief executives and corporate gurus have realised that they need to pay close attention to how employees perceive them and what are the attributes that they associate with them.

“It’s important to brand oneself to create an identity in the corporate world. The corporate market, just as product markets is filled with many ‘me-too’ quality brands. And just as consumers react from the heart, so do fellow colleagues, subordinates and bosses- they too are human and there is always a dimension beyond performance that comes into play. So branding in the corporate scenario helps the individual to stand out in his/her own way. However, you must remember that you don’t really have to cultivate a brand.

"Be yourself. Don’t follow the book - otherwise you will always look like any other brand," explains Piyush Pandey, Executive Chairman & National Creative Director, Ogilvy & Mather Limited.

Can you see me? Visibility is another critical aspect of individual branding. When you’re the chief or the organisational representative, everything that you say or do could have larger implications. And the process of building one’s individual brand requires one to pay close attention to that.

“There is merit in creating visibility for oneself. I don’t keep a conscious check on where I am seen or with whom but I am conscious of where I am and what I say/do there because, it does have an impact on the audience’s view of me and the organisation I represent. In fact for me, the bigger thing to be sensitive about is to remember that I am not only Piyush Pandey-the individual, but I also represent the Ogilvy Group as its executive chairman,” believes Pandey.

One’s individual brand depends largely upon the nature of the person in question. If the person is charismatic and flamboyant, he/she should be able to put across a good enough personal brand.

“I know of some people in our business who are very good at creating and maintaining a well crafted public persona and in my belief, some of what they do borders on over-promoting oneself, perhaps at the cost of workplace productivity. It also depends a lot on your personal brand. In general, extrovert and socially active people manage their visibility better than ‘private’ people,” explains Kiran.

Making a point often, the way you extend minor courtesies (reply to emails/text messages etc.) or even the way you interact with colleagues could reflect your own personality and all this adds up to your individual brand. And carving a pleasant, helpful and approachable personality would require you to act accordingly.

“The way our peers, whether colleagues or friends, perceive us has a strong bearing on how productive we are in a team. If majority of my peers perceive me as a pain in the hind quarters, they will naturally get non co-operative towards me, pulling down not just my performance, but the whole team’s,” explains Ravi Kiran, CEO, Starcom MediaVest Group - South Asia.

Kiran further explains, “I believe my team members think of me as a people-sensitive, future focused, empowering, democratic, idea-sensitive and no-nonsense person. My daily workplace actions has contributed to creating this perception. I am an active participant in ideation sessions. Even outside formal sessions, I share my personal ideas quite freely with my team, and I do not encourage political behaviour. I have been very vocal within my organisation for the need to create a highly participative, rather than an autocratic workplace. I urge my colleagues through internal communication and at the time of evaluation, I tell them to focus on their own and their subordinates’ inherent talent rather than weaknesses.” Altering the way people perceive you can be a challenging task. And the only way out is to work towards building your brand through your actions and deeds that need to reflect what you stand for.

“I think I am seen as obviously creative, certainly one who likes ‘playing off the front foot’- that’s my principle in life; as one who is accessible and approachable; who takes his job seriously, but not oneself seriously. And yes, I’d like to be seen as an optimist who believes failure is okay and big postmortems are a waste of time. The only steps I take are to ensure that what I say and do remain true to this,” concludes Pandey.

Source: The Economic Times

Friday, May 19, 2006

Joel on software

Joel Spolsky has been writing on software, business, management, internet since 2000 on his site.

I found the archive there and i must warn you that if you have got work to do, please dont go to it. I had work to finish and i went there and was stuck there for quite some time.

Joel has a funny side to him and an incredible of simplifying things.

Better be postponed for some day when i dont have much work..

Hope you like the articles in the archive. Enjoy!

Guy Kawasaki's listing of The Top Ten Lies

Here are the links to Guy Kawasaki's lists of the top ten lies of

Venture Capitalists
Marketing Gurus
Corporate Partners

Sunday, May 14, 2006

What's in a name??

I received this forward about a month ago. Some nice old pictures. Funny how some of these revolutionary technologists figured out what to name their company or technology.

Tim Berners Lee -- Founder of the World Wide Web

Bill Hewlett(L) and Dave Packard(R) of HP. Behind them in the picture is the famous HP Garage. Bill Hewlett and Dave Packard tossed a coin to decide whether the company they founded would be called Hewlett-Packard or Packard-Hewlett. And the winner was not Bill... the winner was Dave.

Larry Page(L) and Sergey Brin(R), founders of Google. Google was originally intended to be named 'Googol'. It was spelt wrongly as 'Google'. So they kept the name as GOOGLE.

Ken Thompson (L) and Dennis Ritchie(R), creators of UNIX. Dennis Ritchie improved on the B programming language and called it 'New B'. B was created by Ken Thompson as a revision of the Bon programming language (named after his wife Bonnie). He later called it C.

Steve Woznaik(sitting) and Steve Jobs of APPLE Computers. He was three months late in filing a name for the business because he didn't get any better name for his new company. So one day he told to the staff: "If I'll not get better name by 5 o'clcok today, our company's name will be anything he likes." So at 5 o'clock nobody came up with a nice name, and he was eating APPLE that time, so he kept the name of the company 'Apple Computers'.

Gordon Moore(L) and Bob Noyce(R), founders of Intel. Bob Noyce and Gordon Moore wanted to name their new company 'Moore Noyce'. But that was already trademarked by a hotel chain. So they had to settle for an acronym of INTegrated ELectronics - > INTEL

Andreas Bechtolsheim, Bill Joy, Scott McNealy and Vinod Khosla of SUN (StanfordUniversity Network) MicroSystems. Founded by four Stanford University buddies.

Linus Torvalds of Linux Operating System. He initially used the Minix OS on his system which he replaced by his OS. Hence the working name was Linux (Linus + Minix). He thought the name to be too egotistical and planned to name it freax (free + freak + x). His friend Ari Lemmk encouraged Linus to upload it to a network so it could be easily downloaded. Ari gave Linus a directory called linux on his FTP server, as he did not like the name Freax. Thus, Linus kept the name of his new OS to Linux.

Infosys - when it was just started(1981).

Friday, May 12, 2006

Lessons from Michael Dell's desk

Lessons Learned :-

If you've got a idea, it pays to do something about it.

Sometimes it's better not to ask or to listen when people tell you something cant be done.

With every new growth oppurtunity came a commensurate level of risk.

No matter what your industry, try to identify potential problems early and fix them fast.

Involve your customers early in the development process.

Establish a fluidity and consistency of communications.

The right people in the right job are instrumental to a company success.

You need to embrace an experimental attitude in making deccision.

Make failure acceptable as long as it creates learning oppurtunites.

Delight your customers.

Dont be satisfied in learning only about your industry.... learn as much as you can about your customers previous experience, not only with your competitors, but with other companies as well.

Go beyond selling your product or services, and make yourself valuable to your customers as an advisior.

Speed for market is important for two reason. One is that it creates competitive value that can be shared between buyer and supplier. The other is that when it comes to delivering the latest product - no matter what it is - you're either quick or you're dead.

Dont underestimate the value of information.

Flip the equation: Dont settle for the standard supply/demand relationship. Work towards demand/supply.

Differentiate for the competitive edge.

Learning to thrive on constant change is the next frontier.

Reorient your priorities : Price is not the prevailing factor in the connected ecconomy; as the internet levels the competitive playing field, competitive value is more apt to be found in execution.

Stress personalization, convenience, ease of interaction for your customers.

Friday, May 05, 2006

25 Most Innovative Companies and why?

The Boston Consulting Group-BusinessWeek 2006 list of the Top 25 Most Innovative Companies is based on a survey of more than 1,000 executives at the biggest companies around the world. The resulting ranking is both predictable -- Apple at No.1, Google at No.2 -- and surprising: Where's Motorola? Where's Siemens?

To understand the thinking behind the ranking, they asked the survey respondents to explain their votes. Here are the key reasons behind their belief that, say, Toyota is more innovative than Microsoft.


• Delivers a stream of extremely well-designed products that create and build new markets from existing technologies/platforms

• Has the ability to create demand by understanding customers' needs and anticipating new ones

• Reintroduces new products at the right time and effectively markets them

• Has built a culture that encourages innovation and accepts the risks entailed


• Delivers a steady stream of innovative and useful technologies, tools, and services against tough competition

• Leverages its brand to move into new business areas

• "There are a lot of search engines -- and then there is Google"

• Is changing the way people interact with information


• Innovation is engrained in the culture

• Empowers and incites employees to innovate

• Effectively balances technology with customer needs

• "Post-Its"


• Its leading-edge hybrid technology meets market needs and its manufacturing technologies deliver a quality product

• Uses design, technology, manufacturing, and marketing for maximum market penetration and profits

• Doesn't think conservatively in a conservative industry


• Pushes innovation through technology

• Uses innovation to remain market leader

• Takes existing market innovations and "makes them right"

• Expands beyond core market as new opportunities emerge


• Engages in continuous product and process innovation

• Established the organization to innovate, driven from the top

• Uses metrics to be successful

Procter & Gamble

• Employs "Connect & Develop" model to leverage external resources to drive innovation

• Great brand manager

• Nimble enough to push quickly to market, despite its size

• High patent rate


• Maintains market leadership and brand recognition in competitive mobile-phone market

• Clear customer focus

• Great product-portfolio management and fast to market

• Ability to reinvent itself


• Ability to intelligently market a commodity product as an experience customers are willing to pay a premium for

• Creation of a "third place"

• Extension beyond coffee to create a lifestyle brand


• Draws on intellectual property to be innovative in many areas/ technologies

• Has the ability to repeatedly reinvent itself as tech paradigms shift

• IBM Fellows program


• Has a unique approach to international flights

• Extends that thinking to other lines of business focused on customer value

• Willing to take risks

• "It just seems like they're in the business of imagination"


• Challenges market with superior product design and understanding of customer needs

• Speedy new product introduction

• Went from low-cost, low-quality electronics company to cutting-edge consumer electronics brand in 10 years


• Emphasis on product-design innovation

• Always on leading edge of new developments

• Ability to establish new platforms in multiple segments of the consumer market


• Leader in supply-chain and sales-channel innovation

• Mass-personalization


• Offers new approaches and processes to bring ideas to market, including user research, cross-functional teams, and rapid prototyping

• Has a track record of design excellence


• Challenges industry convention by combining excellent automotive design with cutting-edge technology development to create and market the "Ultimate Driving Experience"

• Has become a leader in automotive telematics


• Constantly pushing the envelope of computer-chip design

• Great ability to reinvent itself with new technologies

• Rewards and builds on the strengths of its employees

• "Always asking 'What's next?'"


• Online community breaks the rules to create new ways of doing business

• Constantly developing new ideas and opportunities


• Customer-focused marketing and product offerings keep customers coming back

• Has changed the way people buy products in the traditional furniture industry

• Brought design to the masses


• Uses technology and pioneers processes to streamline its complex supply chain

• "Hardball approach to global economy"


• The retail experience provides excellent product choice, attractive store layout, and great customer service

• Reinvented their brand with focus on substance, style, and value

• "Redefined the term 'discount retail'"


• Superior engineering and design capabilities deliver attractive products that meet customer needs

• Relentless focus on quality

• Robotics


• Uses its data to derive insight into customer preferences and provide them with a meaningful online experience

• Brought simplicity to e-commerce


• Its services are changing the way the business world communicates

• Has made mobile e-mail user-friendly


• Crafts new approaches to different markets to stay ahead of its competition

• One-make, one-model plane fleet makes for low-cost maintenance and easier training

• Has set the standard for efficiency in its industry, in part by drawing on the ideas of employees

• "Remained profitable even after 9/11"

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