Death of the Purple Canaries

Mining can be a quite a hazardous vocation. Deep inside the burrows of the earth, miners dig for minerals, coal and other stuff to satisfy the ever-increasing appetite of our society, risking their very life and limbs in the process. In the wibbly-wobbly shafts, that can collapse at a moment’s notice shutting them forever from their loved ones, the miners look for reassurances in whatever manner they come, be it scientific or superstitious.  A little yellow canary in a cage is one of them,  renowned for its life-saving charms.

For ages, these little-cute-yellow-fluffy-birdies have been carried down the mine tunnel, often at the very front of the miner party as a good luck charm. These pale-coloured birds are very sensitive to dangerous gases like methane or carbon monoxide, and whenever they encounter it, they die rather swiftly and stoically. Their deaths are construed to be an alarm by the miners, to exit the tunnels immediately before the leaked deadly gases affect them.shutterstock_66032467

Do the miners love these canaries while they are alive, or possibly love them even more when they are dead, no one knows for sure. Yet, the death of these little canaries spells life for the many miners. Or one could say, that their deaths is a precursor of worsening times ahead, a warning of impending doom or destruction in case of status quo. It is a rather poetic or a prophetic end, depending on one’s objectivity. But one thing is for sure; no canary has been celebrated or knighted once dead. When they die, these birds are unknown and unwept. Their death is not a sacrifice, but merely an early sign. That’s how cruel life is.

Much like the canaries, though not an iota as cute, lives a species in our modern-day society. They are celebrated and feted, and fed and fattened. Yet, when they are sacrificed, not many tears are shed. This urban species is rather purple in its behaviour, and swiftly meets the end, when the economic conditions wary. They are most sensitive to forces of economics things like recession, depression or slowdown hit them hard. And their doom should be a warning for lot others, yet is often ignored.

Who are these little fluffies living out in our modern day cities, who aren’t so little anyways? Well, these purple canaries are also known by other synonyms like the fourth-estaters, the journalists, the presswallahs,  the jhollawallahs or whatever you call them. They live boxed in little cages, twittering nicely on a sunny day, when all goes well. Yet, when things go south, so do these chaps. In most cases, they will be the first ones to be retrenched, sacked or just booted out. A little visit to the local press-club will enlighten anyone on this rather ironical tale of a breed that gets to break bread with the high and mighty, yet, when the bread is at a premium, they are broken up easily instead. Thus, whenever there’s an economic descent or a slowdown, you will find more journos with their resumes on sites like Naukri.com and others. Continue reading

India Gangraped

In the aftermath of the heinous Delhi gang-rape case and the Mumbai gang-rape incident, numerous people were out on the roads holding candles, placards and what not. The media, as it is nature, went into frenzy; solemn anchors asked dire and direct questions. Panels were formed, experts were asked, politicians expressed outrage, protestors ranted loud. Newspapers and magazines too joined the  frenzy, with relentless coverage, sad statistics, and unending stream of visual infographics that drove home the point firm and hard: India is being raped and brutalised; left, right and centre.

Rape, yet again, was the hot potato, right from the panel studios to the living room. Rapes were being reported with amazing regularity from all over the country, foreigners, Indians, no one was spared. Numbers that came out only underscored the point. Here are a few statistics that will scare you:

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  • 24,206 rape cases were registered in India in 2011, according to NCRB.

  • A woman is raped every 18 hours or molested every 14 hours in the Capital

  • Cases of rape went up by 873% in the last decade. Shockingly, between 2007 and 2011, rape incidents increased by 9.7%, three times faster than all other crimes put together

  • Nearly 68,000 rape cases were registered across the country during 2009-11 but only 16,000 rapists were sentenced to prison

  • NCRB data shows there were 1,22,292 cases of molestation during 2009-11

The statistics don’t stop, like an endless stream of data they just keep going on. But what essentially can be summed up is that women in India are never safe, with one being raped every few minutes in some part or the other. The figure could be very high, as it is generally assumed that a majority of cases are never reported out of fear or shame.

The moot question is, how did the affairs come to this end so suddenly? Were we always like this, or have we become so in the past few years? Were the Indian males sleazy, opportunistic bastards all this while or have they become one suddenly? Continue reading

Why Mumbai needs Meru? And, why there’s more to it than meets the eye?

On Feb 4th, major newspapers in Mumbai carried a fervent (and a rather long one as well) appeal from Meru Cabs, asking the lay public for support, something that went like, we served you now, support us. Saying it in short, the ad talked about how hoodlum practices had forced the company to stop its operation and how in spite of almost all the drivers wishing to return to work, they were not let to, by a “handful of people with ulterior motives”. At the end, there was a business plea, to let a corporation carry out its business unhindered by political machinations.

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For many of us in Mumbai, the current Meru fracas is certainly not a new one. Over the past year or two, it has become a regular affair. Over some trifle issue or the other, the olive-green taxis will be off the road, and after some reconciliation they will be back. Only for the same cycle to repeat all over again. In fact, the ad itself mentioned that the company has suffered such “strikes” 6 times in the past two years. None of the competitors, the Mega, the Easy or the Tabs, have faced such issues. So, what exactly is the company doing so wrong that it’s facing such backlash again and again?

Curiosity finally, got the better of me, and I started Googling on the subject and asking my friends in the industry to find out how and why things had come to such a pass. And here’s how the story unfolded. Starting off in this very city of Mumbai in 2007, Meru today is India’s largest radio taxi operator and world’s 3rd largest company, operating some 5500 cabs in metros like Delhi, Bangalore and Hyderabad, in addition to Mumbai. Statistically, Meru serves more than a million passengers a month; executing over 20,000 trips on a daily basis (it even holds a Limca Book of Records for the same).

Now, just as Redmond is synonymous with Microsoft or Atlanta with Coca-Cola, or even closer home how Bangalore is synonymous with Infosys, Mumbai and Meru have an intrinsic connection. In fact, it should be a matter of pride for all of us that in a short course of half-dozen years, a start-up from the city attained such success that it was even featured in WSJ or even as a Wharton case-study. Meru’s success is symbolic of Mumbai’s entrepreneurial acumen, where if you have a great idea and a determined will nothing can come in the way to success. Except possibly for politically-aligned trade unions.

Time for flashback. When Meru started operations back in 2007, we Mumbaikars were completely at the mercy of the city cabs (referred locally as kaali-peeli). Hyper-inflated bills, rowdy behaviour, rash driving, and others were all the calling cards of the kaali-peeli. Commuters were helpless in front of these cab-wallahs, who ran according to a writ of their own. In this mire, appears Meru, a professional run-taxi operator, that delivers a swanky sedan at your door, with a civil driver and a mechanism to ensure no over-charging. While over the years, Meru added a lot many features to their cabs, like web-booking, credit-card payment, etc., the earlier 3 were its only USP. Continue reading

Top 10 excuses to skip work & watch Indo-Pak game

Holidays hold a special place in an Indian’s life, especially the corporate worker. In addition to the CLs, PLs, and the MLs, Indians are also thankful to the many gods and great men who decided to take birth, marry or die on this land; resulting in a fairly decent number of extr’olidays. And then, when it is not the gods, the politicians are always pliant. So, we have a good set of forced holidays brought about by different outfits under the garb of Bharat Bandh et al.

But Wednesday, 30th March falls under a very special category. It is neither a festival, nor any great men (women too) were born, died or anything on this day and finally no political outfit has declared it as Bandh-day. Yet, across the length and breadth of this nation, work will come to a standstill this day, precisely from 2.30 pm onwards, as the Indian cricket team face off with its not-so friendly neighborhood rivals Pakistan. As the game gets going, millions of Indians will be glued to the television screen, cheering, screaming, ranting and raving, as every ball is pitched up on the 22-yard strip.

The match has put companies in India on a dicey wicket. Since, the fiscal-year closing is looming large, there is just too much of stuff that needs be done. On the other hand, it is only but natural that employees will be following the match ball per ball.

To resolve this dilemma, companies across the board have adopted different measures and means, while some have given a day off, the others are putting up screens and offering pizza to all the employees at the workplace itself. Companies like Reliance Infrastructure have given a day off, while others like Axis Bank, Bharti Axa General Insurance, Future Media, Cadbury India and Future Bazaar will work half day. Continue reading

Does Apple hate India?

It is often said that much like an inamorato or a paramour, you either love Apple or hate it. Renowned for its path-breaking innovations, Apple products are much desired all over the globe, from a college kid to corporate head honcho. Same is the case in India as well. Going by the strengths of all the people touting iPhones or moving around with iPads, it will be hardly surprising if we are not as obsessed with the Mac Maker as the Americans are. And yet, why do we have a feeling that the love isn’t mutual, in fact it seems more of an infatuation more than anything else.

A clear indication of this one-way street can be made from the way Apple treats the Indian market. There is an almost disdain on how and when products are launched in the market. For instance, Apple today announced that it will be shipping the new iPad2 to 25 countries mostly European nations and Mexico by March 25th. The company has also indicated that the device will debut in Hong Kong, Korea, Singapore and additional countries in April. Yet there is singular silence when it comes to talking about India.

The few Apple-branded retail outlets dotted across in India, still sport the older iPads and are completely clueless on when and how the newer one will appear. Considering that it took Apple a good ten months after the global launch to officially launch the iPad in India, Indians will have to wait for some time. Leaving the patriotic jingoism aside, the market is rife with accusation that the delay in the India launch of iPad1 is proof that Apple treats India as a market to dump its old goods. The fact that it launched the first version iPad here at a time when it was in the final stage of launching the iPad2 only strengthens the perception that the company wishes to dispose of its inventory in India. Continue reading

Number Portability from Nov 25; Should we party?

Yet again IT and Telecom minister A Raja has announced a new date of introduction of the MNP (Mobile Number Portability) facility. Accordingly, the service will be rolled out in 11 cities across the country, and the first place to have the service is Haryana. The service in the rest of the 11 cities is said to be implemented by December 20.

Now, the fabled MNP, that basically lets you retain your cell number ever as you change the mobile operators (for a fee of course) has been a hotly debated and argued subject in the Indian telecom space. According to many analysts, the introduction of MNP will truly be a game-changer. Not surprisingly then, that the status-quoist well-entrenched telecom operators, who are accustomed to adding a few million more subscribers month on month, are dragging their feet on the same.

Little wonder, we already have missed 3 deadlines for the launch of the service. MNP deadline had previously been set to December 31, 2009, then to March 31, 2010 and later to June 30, 2010. But time and again, it was found that the operators were not ready with the proper infrastructure to support this facility.

In between, PSU major BSNL, made much fanfare about its readiness and spoke about the launch on November 1, 2010. But then, that did not happen either and now we all await November 25 and the government will be coming out with detailed guidelines and advertisements on the same pretty soon.

So now that MNP is all set to be a reality, should we uncork that Champagne? Well, you could if you want to drink the Champagne, but wait a bit if you want to celebrate the coming of MNP. Remember that old adage, or rather, let me remind you of two: Many slip between the cup and the lip and the devil is in the detail. Continue reading

Paragliding @ Panchgani

“Remember keep your legs straight, run fast and when you reach the edge — look straight and jump,” was Sultan Bhai’s  terse command for me. I would have readily followed his instruction, but for one simple thing, he was asking me to jump of a cliff in Panchgani overlooking a valley, a straight drop of a few thousand metres, enough to make Protinex  out of your bones. But, then, I had willingly chosen to undertake the mission and could only nod meekly in agreement, leaving everything to his good sense.
All geared up and in the air
Paragliding is not for the faint-hearted. The human body, for all its evolutionary beauty, is still fairly brittle and can barely take a big knock. So, surviving a fall from a few hundred feet is dicey, forget about a few thousands. Not to mention, there are scores of videos that are available on Youtube,  that capture how things can go horrifically wrong in a matter of seconds. Unlike other sports, the risks are fairly high and you cannot bet on the outcome.

Yet, standing there on the cliff, I must have seen some 9-10 nervous people jumping of the cliff, soaring in the air and returning quite safely to reassure my worried heart. Also the fact that I would not be alone on the trip, there would an experienced hand with me on the sojourn to take care of all the technicalities and also to ensure that after some minutes on the sky, I land safely back on terra firma. Considering my over-healthy frame, my para-guide Babu, waited for the wind currents to increase a bit. His main worry was that once we jump, it should not be that my weight pulls us both down towards certain doom. Hence, I had to wait till early-evening before taking the plunge.

The price for a few minutes in the sky was not cheap. For low-flying 15 minutes, it was 1500 bucks and for high-flying 30 minutes it was 3000. I opted for the latter as I didn’t know when next I will be air-borne, so might as well as make the best of it right now. Before the flight, the guys make you sign a declaration bond, stating that in case of an accident there is none else to blame, etc. Believe me, at that moment the declaration form seemed ominous. Continue reading

7 Steps to becoming the CIO

Peep into an ant-hill and you will know what seamless order and perfection is. The tiny insect cousins have truly evolved a highly complex organizational structure that in spite of being hierarchal is also highly efficient. At the very apex sits the queen, cynosure of all the domicile ants, and does little work except fawn and procreate. Below the queen, there are the scores and scores of workers ants that toil endlessly to ensure that queen is unperturbed and amply at ease.

Were we to project this organizational structure on to a standard enterprise, more so on to IT function of the typical enterprise. It will be fairly evident, that the CIO is the queen of the IT-hill, fawned upon by the rest of the managers and professionals. The IT function head has little to do with IT these days and frets and fumes over mundane things like RoI, people management etc.

For the sake of illustration, take the case of Mr. O, who is a CIO of a fairly large pharma company, leads a lifestyle that could be the envy of many. More often than not he is constantly touring the country and globe for work, conferences, etc. He is courted by vendors, analysts, journalists, and others who are all ears for every word that escapes his mouth. The CEO of the company is all ears, whenever Mr. O has a new proposal or strategy. He moves along in hallowed circles receiving awards and recognition with amazing regularity, has a spacious cabin with all the works.

So when does Mr. O work? Well, honestly he does not really work, but merely gets his work done. Over the years, he has outsourced much of the infrastructure management to external vendors. Even so, he still has a small and cosy team of managers and IT professionals that handle the day-to-day functioning of the IT infrastructure and the data center. The ant-hill isn’t much different from the IT-hill, isn’t it?
One cannot be sure if the worker ant within the ant-hill aspires to be the queen, but the IT manager at the IT-hill surely desires to be CIO. This was evident, when we floated out a survey on what it takes to be a CIO to sample of around 500 IT mangers drawn from different verticals, cities, and profiles. To say that the response was overwhelming would be an understatement; close to 300 IT managers had completed the survey within 2 days, while the others continue to do so over the next few days. The dozen odd questions were designed to capture the ‘essentials’ of what it takes to be a CIO. Once, the verdict was out from the IT manager’s end, the same question was posed to the CIOs and external consultants and they were asked to share their views on a similarly designed survey.

Based on the findings of the two, the IT manager survey and the CIO & consultant one, we present the 7-step guide to being a CIO. While much of this may seem fairly obvious and common sensical, yet, remember that it is the small things that make a CIO. And it is these traits and specialities that need to be imbibed and displayed to earn the CIO cap. While the steps might seem fairly easy, they require a complete change of mindset. So, if you are ready for the challenge, here is the way, presenting the IT Next’s 7-step guide to becoming CIO.

  • Be business savvy
Over the past many years the role of the CIO a 180° turnaround. While, he continues to remain the king (or the queen) of all things technical, the role has expanded in a way to encompass all the organization. Thus, a CIO is no more chained to the data center or the IT department, but is expected to take on a much bigger and strategic role within the organization. Also the fact that with rapid digitization, IT and technology is not merely backend, but very much front-end as well. Thus, while a retailer might be concerned about implementing the best inventory and warehousing system at his shop, he could also look at the Web and mobile as an additional front to reach out to the customer. Herein IT provides him a completely new revenue stream that did not exist before. The CIO in this case needs to be the change agent that brings about such a transformation, not reactive but proactive. Continue reading

Interview: Dr RK Pachauri (IPCC)

“Is the climate change situation as dire as you make it sound?” Is invariably the first question that any interviewer puts to Dr. Rajendra Kumar Pachauri, chairman of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) and the director general of The Energy and Resources Institute. Ever since 2007, when Pachauri came out with earth shattering commentary that our planet was moving rapidly towards an ecological disaster of gargantuan proportion, somewhat of an Eco-Armageddon and it was human activity that is responsible for the same; he has been hailed as a hero and reviled as a villain across the globe. Since, then Pachauri has been asked above question over and over again, and yet the environmental Nostradamus always answers the question calmly and lists down all the dangers that confront us in a solemn demeanor.

For western nations like the US that after years of releasing obnoxious pollutants in the atmosphere and wanting other nations like India and China to take a commitment first, Pachauri is a somewhat of a bogeyman. Nonetheless, he has taken a strong stance on what the world needs to do forestall the doom and how the developed countries should not merely shift the onus and blame to developing countries. In recognition of his efforts and those of IPCC, the Nobel Committee conferred on IPCC and Al Gore, the Nobel Peace Prize in 2007. In his acceptance speech on behalf of IPCC, Pachauri had invoked the Sanskrit adage, vasudev kutumbakam (the whole universe is one big family) and asked everyone to contribute to the fight against climate change.

Post Nobel, Pachauri turned into the most recognized face of climate change and he continues to invoke the same vasudev kutumbakam principle to ask all to join in the challenge. In a special discussion, he talks about the ways in which Indian corporate sector can play a significant role in battle, on CSS, nuclear energy and so many other things.

Whenever, we talk about climate change it is often from a macro perspective, namely what the governments can do on it. Do you think that at a micro level, say enterprises too have a certain amount of responsibility and can work towards a better world?
Indeed it is so. There is a whole range of things that companies and enterprises can do. The impacts of climate change are going to be very diverse, they are going to range from an increase in extreme climate events, to heat waves, drought, and also changes in precipitation pattern so the availability of natural resources like water is going to be definitely affected and it is going to impact on the working of the corporate sector. So companies need to start looking at how they need to adapt to these extreme events, for instance if there is an company that uses a large amount of water like a semiconductor fab; the water is not going to be available in the manner and to the magnitude they need in the future. So probably they need to think in terms of recycling of water, using processes that are less water intensive, etc. So these are adaptations measures that they can. And this will not only benefit the company but also go a long way in the fight against climate change.

What do you think about the eco-consciousness of the Indian corporate sector?
Well, it is growing, it is still not where it should be but I think the consciousness is growing. What is important is that there is desire to understand and to find out what they can do. But not all of them are not well informed on what the impact of climate changes are and how they should respond to it. I want to highlight the fact that the need to reduce the emission of green house gases (GHG) is also linked to energy supply because energy is going to be an issue that will affect countries, corporate entities, and even individual. The security of energy supply is certainly in question as far as the future is concerned. So to the extent that corporate sector can use energy more efficiently, perhaps to shift as much as possible to the use of renewable energy. There own security about the supply of energy will enhance. And while doing all that they will also be able to cut down on costs. They will have to carry out some due diligence, exactly define what they can do. The corporate sector in India needs to wake up to the challenge of climate change.

Right now, most of the green initiatives carried out by the corporate sector are clubbed under the CSR tag, what do you make of it?
You know, I think by and large a lot of corporate organizations treat CSR as a kind of a cosmetic effort. I don’t think that is the right spirit. CSR should be mainstream, after all if a company has to succeed it alsoRK Pachauri 1 has to ensure that the society succeeds as well. And hence, for that to happen companies need to start looking at some of these initiatives as part of their overall operating strategy, not something that you do external to the enterprise. Hence, it is essential to integrate the two.

Due to your association with TERI, you have been privy to a lot of information about the various sectors of Indian industry; what do you think about the eco-consciousness of the IT industry vis-à-vis the rest of the sectors?
Some of the IT companies are indeed getting conscious of the fact, but I am not sure whether they are doing too much about it. Even if you look at some of the buildings that they construct, they have not really paid any attention by and large to energy efficient design, reducing energy in a way to make it sustainable in terms of supply opportunity in the future. And I am not too sure whether most of them are looking at even at the hardware and the software that they use being focused on energy efficiency. So I still think that there is a long way to go and I am not singling out the IT industry, every industry and enterprise needs to gear up for the challenge. Continue reading

Interview: Jimmy Wales (Wikipedia)

‘Jimbo’ is how Jimmy Wales is quite wellknown within the cyber community and there is an interesting story as to how he got this nickname. Years back, when Jimbo was kick-starting the community project (predescessor of Wikipedia), he was looking for a user name or a nickname, since most of the permutations involving his first name i.e., Jimmy were unavailable, he decided to settle on Jimbo, the one nickname that was not. And it has stuck with him ever since.

Over the past few years, there have been quite a few occasions that I got to interact with Jimbo, but due to some odd karmic coincidence, I never got around interviewing him for Dataquest. Thus, when one such opportunity presented itself, I jumped on it. And Jimbo too was kind enough to spare around an hour for a tete-a-tete.

When I called him at his San Francisco home, Jimbo was busy playing some a game on the computer with his daughter and seemed a wee bit unhappy at the onset on being gleaned away from the fun-thing. But as the interview progressed, he sort of warmed up; talking about different aspects of Wikipedia and how the future might pan out for the world’s leading collaborative encyclopedia project. Here is the interview of the Wikipedia man, as it was published in Dataquest.

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The Power of Collaboration

You was what the Time magazine chose as the Person of the Year for 2006. The choice underlined the emergence of interactive Web or what is more popularly known as Web 2.0; a universe where millions of users communicate and collaborate seamlessly. Of the three instances of Web 2.0 services that were cited, Wikipedia was one of them (the others being YouTube and MySpace). In the intervening years, Wikipedia has only grown in strength, today it is one of the 4th most visited websites in the globe. Every month close to 280 mn people look up Wikipedia for information or to edit the pages.

Jimmy Wales co-founded Wikipedia in January 2001, as an online encyclopedia that could be edited by anyone. Over the last eight odd years, Wales has become an icon for Web 2.0 and has been recognized at various forums as a thinker and an activist. In 2007 the World Economic Forum recognized him as one of the Young Global Leaders that are having a positive impact on the society at large, while numerous other lists have pegged him as one of the most influential thought leaders or scientists.

But, there is no dearth of detractors to Wikipedia as well, with numerous people pointing out flaws in its liberal editing model, or the fact that the information is not really authenticated. Wales has also been targeted time and again for his personal traits, be it the person he is dating or the page he is deleting. Nonetheless, he continues to be a vociferous mascot for Wikipedia, touring across the globe and spreading the message. In an interaction with Dataquest, he speaks about what makes Wikipedia tick and how not only individuals but also enterprises could use it as one of the information sources. Excerpts:

Recently, Wikipedia successfully raised some $6 mn through contribution for running its operations and you also made a very personal appeal in that regards. What really necessitated the personal appeal? Has the downturn had an impact on fund raising?

Fund raising is not something unusual as we do it every year, where in funds are raised for the following year. As we follow a non-profit root, we are dependent on charity from the normal public to run our affairs, so that is pretty usual for us. As far as the personal appeal goes, I make it every year, so that is not something different either.

To be honest, I did not see any specific instance of economic conditions affecting our fund raising. Our users across the globe understand that we need money to survive and hence they donate in whichever way possible. I am very grateful to all those who did, be it slowdown or not.

It has been some eight years since you launched Wikipedia, and it has grown immensely in these years. What is the road ahead for Wikipedia?jwales

Though it has been eight years, I strongly feel that we are just at the beginning of community driven projects online, where thousands of new things evolve over time and we are going to see a lot more projects of this nature over the coming years. People across different fields are getting together to create things and this trend will only increase. So you just wait, there will be a lot more Wikipedia kind of projects in the years to come.

Wikipedia is renowned as an exhaustive source of information but is there a physical limit to the growth, ie, is it possible to get any and every information on Wikipedia?

Well, to start with, there are very different limits to what can go in Wikipedia. First and foremost lets remember that Wikipedia is an encyclopedia, which directly means that there are scores of things that Wikipedia is and is not. Also, we have a strong focus on good quality and that is not possible unless you have good references. Sadly good references are not in abundant quantity, so that puts a limit to what can be achieved or not. Continue reading

Schadenfreude Millionaire

It’s evening time at the posh Lincoln Plaza Cinema, in Broadway, New York an Amy Wilder is sitting perked up and looking with disbelief at the film running on the big screen ahead. Though, she has never really visited India, but has heard a lot about the country especially due to the job losses in the US. Like many else she believes that every white-collared IT worker that is retrenched in US is replaced by a brownie in some obscure city of India. Over the years, Amy, and many like her, have come to believe that India is no merely a land of elephants, snake charmers and the rope trick artists, but a potent threat to the workforce because of its laborious and educated workforce. The stereotype had steadily been effaced.

Yet, sitting in the Lincoln Cinema, she witnessed an image of India that she has often heard about but was not sure that it existed; an impoverished country wherein people were reduced to despondency, fighting, bickering, cheating, and killing each other. Thanks to the ‘Incredible India’ buses that flitted on the Broadway Street, her image of India as a third-world country had been replaced by that of an emergent and mystical land, the country of IT and that of the Taj Mahal. But Slumdog Millionaire got her thinking again

Seeing the two little orphans scampering across the cramped and filthy streets of Mumbai made her realize that India was not really a country that should be loathed, but rather pitied. In fact, on coming out of the theatre, Amy felt better about her existence, even though she was facing tough times in the face of job loses and defaults on mortgage payments, but at least it wasn’t as bad as in India, where small boys were blinded and made to beg on streets, or mobs of religious fanatics went about killing people just like that. Thank you lord for not making me an Indian, she heaved a sigh. Continue reading