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Showing posts from May, 2006

Listen To The Supreme Court, Or Else !

Many Americans hate George Bush for Iraq. That hate rises as the body bags keep piling piling up. Three days ago, two CBS journalists were blown up by a car bomb in Baghdad. A third one barely survived. The journalists were in Iraq out of choice. The scores of dead American soldiers were not. What option does the American public have ? Very little. They elected George Bush. In a democracy, you've got to follow the process.

The student community is rightfully angry with the Government. Its protests have had some impact, but nowhere as enough. That only goes to show how thick skinned our politicians can be. Particularly where they perceive a larger votebank connect. We can protest, oppose, picket and shout slogans. Or wear black badges.

We can keep agitating against the ruling political class or certain members of it. We can fight for their removal. Or ask them to pull back. Or boycott them at every turn. And keep up the protests. But they too represent the will of the majority. Whet…

Now, Pin The Government Down !

A young colleague of mine came wearing a black band on his right arm to office. He was protesting against reservations over the weekend. Braved the hot sun and shouted slogans at Bombay's Azad Maidan. It was fun too, considering a lot of pretty girls were part of it, he admitted. But he says he's part of a larger group, that is committed to opposing reservations.

That's the good news. The momentum is picking up. And young, possibly middle and upper middle class India is opposing reservations to the hilt. And why shouldn't they ? They have much to loose. And its not their fault the Government is not doing its job, helping those who should be helped, effectively.

I am still not convinced whether reservations are the right solution to the right problem. Its the wrong solution the wrong problem. A classic politician's move - A short term, quick fix for an issue they have no desire to address, in the long term. Because they are not around that long. And they lack the ten…

Students Of India, Its Your Problem As Well !

I'm glad the Indian Institute of Technology (IIT) students (finally) emerged from their campuse in Bombay to form a chain of protest. That’s good to hear. Now, where did they do that ? Not near distant Mantralaya or Azad Maidan or some such public place where their protests would surely have more impact. Rather, in the relative comfort of Powai, in North Bombay. Oh yes, it was right outside their campus. Wow ! That must have taken some effort.

As long as they protested, I guess. Maybe this is exam time. Which leads me to wonder. Why, again, is a fundamental issue of meritocracy in education not affecting the rest of the country's student community ? Or the creation of more quality education seats. Surely, even a child can tell you that adding seats in premier institutions is not like topping up an ice-cream cone. Or packing a Bombay local train with a few more hundred commuters. Its got to be thought out and planned out.

China has faced similar problems. And responded with a str…

Why Are The Doctors Protesting, Alone ?

I don't get it. Until a few weeks ago, I thought the additional 27% reservations for Other Backward Classes (OBC) affected a whole lot more folks. Someone posted a comment cum link on my blog seeking support for an Indian Institute of Technology (IIT) student initiated effort protesting against Arjun Singh's quota capers. Many Indian Institute of Management (IIM) students (or were they former) too made noises.

And yet, the only people protesting the hardest seem to be the doctors. Whose being on the streets unfortunately has the maximum impact on the people they are suppposed to serve, typically poor patients needing medical attention. Often urgent. And they look like the villians in the story.

That has not stopped them. Medical students from West Bengal and Bihar to Delhi and Mumbai, they are uniting to take on the government. Even Mangalore ! And the momentum only seems to be gaining. Students are talking of stepping up their efforts and creating a nationwide movement.

Amazing …

Indians Spin Textile Story in Shaoxing, China !

Neeraj claims the first three months in China were torture. "I couldn't understand a word. I thought I made a mistake by coming here," he says passing around cups of Indian tea in his office cum guest house. Neeraj is a textile trader based in the bustling city of Shaoxing. The apartment is packed with fabric samples on hangers. "And then," he says, "it began making sense." Evidently, as he asks the cook to include dal in the menu for lunch, in fluent Chinese.

Neeraj is one of some 1,200 Indians living and working in Shaoxing, located three hours south of Shanghai and on the southern wing of the Yangtze River Delta. Shaoxing is popularly known as the textile capital of China and even Asia. What its perhaps not popularly known is the fact that it has highest concentration of Indians for any city or town in China, more than Beijing and Shanghai combined.

Like Neeraj, most of the Indians here in Shaoxing (also known as the wine city) are textile traders. …

India's 21-Day Disadvantage

The conference room has a busy, workman’s look about it, with a long table in the centre. Around, on the two of the walls hang shirts with premium labels; Abercrombie & Fitch, Nordstrom, Tommy Hilfiger & Hugo Boss. Through the large, sealed window, is the familiar Shanghai sprawl of skyscrapers stretching across. Its raining outside.

We are in the China sales offices of the $500 million Esquel, a Hong Kong headquartered shirt maker, among the world's largest. Rebecca (name changed), a young merchandiser of Taiwanese origin, is taking my friend Vijay through a corporate presentation. She mentions, by the way, that her founder, Marjorie Yang was voted one of the most powerful women business leaders in the world by Fortune. Yang is also MIT and Harvard educated.

The next slide is on Esquel's production (60 million shirts) facilities. I notice their largest manufacturing plant is in Gaoming, near Guangzhou on the east coast. The plant employs some 21,000 workers. The rest ar…

Suryanarayana & Other Fearless Indians

Two years ago, at a technology seminar in Bangalore, I got talking to a telecom engineer in his 40s. He worked with one of the bigger private telecom companies and was responsible for building and maintaining their fixed line infrastructure. As I look back, I would say he looked like a homely, south Indian man of the house, with a soft-spoken and gentle demeanour.

The kind of man who would work hard and well until 6 pm and then go home to his extended family in a house possibly built by his father or grand father in Malleswaram, the older part of Bangalore. And so we spoke, of the challenges of telecom infrastructure and the opportunities that were opening up. And the competition.

Then I asked him where he had worked before his present job. I presumed he had worked with a state-owned telecom company, Bharat Sanchar Nigam. I was right, he had. But then he said he was away in Africa for a couple of years before returning to his present job. Where was that, I asked, mildly. “Somalia,” he a…