Exported oriented businesses and EEFC accounts

For an export oriented business its always good to have EEFC accounts because two reasons. 1. Better forex rates 2. if interested, one can monitor the market & earn some extra revenue.

Lets take case I
———————-

When a client makes a payment in USD, if we have a INR account with an Indian bank, during the wire / swift process, the conversion rate is optimised to make maximum profits for the bank. Say, we will be given lowest rate of the day etc. It gets worse if the transaction is above a threshold say 3K USD as manual intervention is kicked in & we end up getting even lower rate.

If the wire is redirected to a USD EEFC account, we can convert the same against the card rate or the negotiated special rate which will be often better than the floating rate.

Here the process involved is SWIFT and not ACH.

Case II
———–

Closely monitor the forex markets & play the game to get the better rates. If we are really confident, like the sort that does butterfly analysis and stuff, we can go for a loan against the forex reserve and use it for OPEX & may end up making profit from the forex conversion, protection from inflation etc. Now this is for the biggies like infy i guess.

Now the question what is SBIePay, HDFC, Citi licenses do:

they are multi currency payment gateways approved by the RBI. Till now it was not possible for PGs like EBS, CCAvenue, payzippy etc to receive foreign currency & if we use the PGs of banks, they used to take the automated route thus ending up giving us lower rates.

Technically its very simple as all it takes is to receive forex & then deposit to the appropriate EEFC a/c.

But then there was a small catch, it needed RBI permission. And to get that we need to be the likes of CIAL who has say, 100K USD transaction per day.

We can use swift but if the amounts are less than 2000 USD (1920 USD as per a calculation I did few years ago), wire will not be cost effective as the cost for wire is something around 35-45 USD unless there is a special arrangement with the bank. In short for such transactions we end up using services like Paypal. Now they are very aggressive & we end up getting around INR 2.5 less than the market price / card rate per USD. Plus there is a service charge which also quite high. In anycase for 10K USD there will be a loss of INR 25000/- now if the USD is getting stronger against INR, say by 5 paise by the time the cash reaches our account, the loss increase further.

an example with paypal with 4K USD

Amount received will be 3823.70 after service charges.

Total amount:
-Rs.221,822.39 INR (equals -$3,823.70 USD)
Fee amount:
Rs.0.00 INR
Net amount:
-Rs.221,822.39 INR

Conversion from:
-$3,823.70 USD
Conversion to:
Rs.221,822.39 INR
Exchange rate:
1 US Dollar = 58.0125 Indian Rupees

The original amount the client paid was USD 4000. If we calculate at 1 USD = 60 INR, we were supposed to receive INR 2,40,000/- our loss is INR 18178/-

PS: today’s non-negotiated rate with SBT is 59.67 INR / USD.

measuring Indian patriotism

OVer the years I was observing the patriotism fever that happens to Indians around August 15th, January 26th and during conflicts with any of the nearby countries. I was lucky enough to have a mechanism to plot the graph over the years. This is done with few photos uploaded to flickr with Google search terms related to the fever.

The current status can be seen below screenshots. Will post a snapshot tomorrow which I expect to show a steep growth.

This shows the rise in patriotism in last 28 days. I think roughly this will represent the overall rise in patriotism of those who are listening to media.

This shows the rise in patriotism in last 28 days. I think roughly this will represent the overall rise in patriotism of those who are listening to media.

 

 

Google searches hitting the image

Google search queries hitting the image

Various keywords related to patriotism

Various keywords related to patriotism

 

stats measured with a different photo - this one historically gets hits during republic day period.

stats measured with a different photo – this one historically gets hits during republic day period.

The stats on  16-08-2013 will be posted to get a better measurement.

Perhaps we need to understand the need for being Indian 24x7x365 & not just for around 60 days in an year !

4197040130_07bff0459b_z

Aadhar aka UID project – questions and concerns.

There is confusion and ambiguity about the Unique Identity aka Aadhar project implemented in India by UIDAI. This post is an attempt to compile the questions and concerns from various sources. I will update the post with clarifications when available & try to keep updated with recent developments. My personal opinions or ideas will not be added & will try to ignore anything that sounds illogical. Credit to authors will be given at all times when its possible to find the authors & this post is under Attribution-ShareAlike 2.5 India for India & under Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported in all other countries.

Concerns:

Here are some questions on Aadhaar which not answered at al1. The UID was promoted as a `voluntary’ `entitlement’. Now, people are being threatened that they canot access any services or institutions unless they are enrolled for a UID. This has not happened only because states have so decided, but are based largely on the reports of various committees.


2. This coercion has been introduced into a project where no feasibility study has been done till date. On 28 September, 2010, 17 eminent citizens had raised questions about the launch of a project of this nature without even a report on feasibility. The Parliamentary Standing Committee had raised similar concerns. There are no answers yet,and yet the coercion has become the norm.

3. The Standing Committee on Finance roundly rejected the National Identification Authority of India Bill 2010, by its report presented to Parliament on December 13, 2011. It also said that the UID project needs to be sent back to the drawing board, citing various deficiencies in its plan and execution.

The UIDAI and government have chosen to ignore the report. There is still no law. And the UID project, and the compulsion that has been introduced, are occurring beyond the protection of the law.

4. Proof of Concept studies were done only after the project was already underway. While doing the PoC on enrollment (uploaded in February 2011, over 4 months after enrollment had begun), the report says, they did not include arecanut workers and other plantation workers because this would only complicate the sample. How can such a study find validity. Also, the findings of the study are not substantiated; the evidence is not available, and those reading the report critically have found it to be self-serving.

The Fingerprint Authentication report (March 2012) and the Iris Authentication report (September 2012) suffer from similar problems. And unreasonable assumptions have been used to make it appear like the technology can be made to work: for instance, it is said in the report that iris never changes! A study by two professors at Notre Dame demonstrates that this is in fact untrue, and that those who have been saying it have done so because no longitudinal studies had been done thus far, since this is such recent technology!

5. The UIDAI, is pushing for `re-engineering’ all systems and `seeding’ all data bases with the UID number to make it `ubiquitous’. This will make all systems dependent on the UID system functioning. Already, the inability to authenticate people is showing signs of requiring the use of `manual override’, which is a magnificent source of `leakage’ and of exclusion of those the systems does not authenticate. This unseemly haste to shift to untested and undependable technology is a source of grave concern.

6. The seeding of the number everywhere also raises privacy concerns. UIDAI has not denied that the UID project raises serious privacy issues. But UDAI has sidestepped the issue, saying that it is an issue wider than the UID project and needs a general law, and so he will not worry himself about it.

Whatever his assumption of responsibility to ensure the protection of privacy — and in this case it would include concerns of profiling, tracking, tagging, convergence of data, data mining, the state and all manner of people gaining access to this data bank that is being created especially in the context of data becoming a transactable commodity — must precede consideration of any such project. Instead, there is no law governing the project and the uses to it which it may put; and there is no law on privacy either.

7. While still on privacy, it is being propagated that `the poor have no use for privacy’. This casual dismissal of such a right, especially given how vulnerable the poor, including classes of migrants, homeless, jhuggi dwellers, casualised workforce, for instance, are needs to be confronted.

8. There is much concern about the companies to whom the UIDAI has given contracts. There are companies like L1 Identity Solutions whose favoured customer has been the CIA, where a former director of the CIA, George Tenet, was even on their Board. Accenture Securities Ltd, another company shortlisted for the project, is on Smart Borders Project with the US Homeland Security. US law requires all agencies to provide any information demanded of them to the Homeland Security if asked.

When the UIDAI was sent an RTI asking why they had enlisted foreign companies such as these in the project, the answer was that they had no way of knowing whether they were foreign companies — because the way invited participation did not elicit this information!

The absence of a law means that there is nothing binding them to a legal structure within which we could hold them.
The contracts with these companies are being denied for public perusal in the name of `confidentiality’

9. The rampant outsourcing in the project means that all manner of people handle our data, including biometric data, and there is little that we can do when it is traded, misused, shared, lost ….

In January 2011, the Home Ministry had said that they could not use UIDAI data because it was insecure, unverified and could pose a security threat. Then they patched up their differences and decided to share the country 50:50! As citizens, though, the rapprochement does not answer the problems raised by the Home Ministry.

Where are the answers?

 

Confusion between NPR & UID projects.

 

It seems there is confusion regarding the purpose two identical projects and no one seems to know the difference.

 

Court orders requesting clarification:

 

Ownership of data

It seems there is no clear answer as to who owns the data and recent news articles like “Your data, going on sale soon” discusses about these ownership issues.

Safety of data collected

There are numerous incidents of data collected being found discarded. The biggest such reported event is this one : Maharashtra loses data of 3 lakh UID cards

 

 

What is the difference between a Bill and an Act ?

 

Legislative proposals are brought before either house of the Parliament of India in the form of a bill. A bill is the draft of a legislative proposal, which, when passed by both houses of Parliament and assented to by the President, becomes an Act of Parliament. As soon as the bill has been framed, it has to be published in the news papers and suggestions are invited from the general people, and after going through the suggestions of the people the bill is amended and then Bill may be introduced in the Parliament by ministers or private members. The former are called government bills and the latter, private members’ bills. Bills may also be classified as public bills and private bills. A public bill is one referring to a matter applying to the public in general, whereas a private bill relates to a particular person or corporation or institution. The Orphanages and Charitable Homes Bill or the Muslim Waqfs Bills are examples of private bills. – wikipedia.org

US Patriot Act & security of Indian citizen data

In a nutshell, the act can force companies registered in the United States or their subsidiaries elsewhere to share any or all data to law enforcement agencies. A detailed description can be found here: USA Patriot Act

This is a major issue for many technology companies including Google, Apple, Microsoft, Facebook, Yahoo, Salesforce, Data.com etc. The act is in clear violation of EU data protection regulation, UK privacy act which clearly states individual data can be stored only in UK or safer harbors but access must not be allowed. Swiss regulations makes this more complicated. As far as India is concerned IT act 2000 and its 2008 amendments  and not talking about any of these issues. The privacy law is still under scrutiny. There are incidents of many firms deciding against doing business with US based companies of which some are listed below.

  1. European Firm Refuses To Go On the Microsoft Cloud Due to PATRIOT Act Concerns
  2. Microsoft admits Patriot Act can access EU-based cloud data
  3. PATRIOT Act and privacy laws take a bite out of US cloud business

Now lets back to our context. This simply means that other countries can access all our biometric data without any permission whatsoever from us or our government. If one thinks, this is OK, then this discussion is definitely for such people.

The question has been raised here long back but I am not sure how and why we are going to circumvent it. Here is a discussion about it which even activists seem to be not noticing – The Trouble With Big Brother’s Eye

 

To be added:

Time period of validity of a bill, Reasons for a bill not be presented in Parliament, Is there a provision under RTI to find out why a bill is not presented to the parliament.

 

Photo editing with Freedom – the GIMP way

 

Until recently, the issues with FOSS and photo post processing was loss of data while RAW conversion, poor colour management, lack of 16  bit support etc.

Finally it seems Gimp 2.9 is addressing the 16 – bit issue which was until recently addressed only by CinePaint. Yes there are multitude of options like Photivo, Krita etc but IMHO if all these efforts are combined in building a better GIMP, RAW support etc things could have been better. Looks like too much of a freedom is not always the right way unless there is a guiding force.

Gimp 2.9  30 May 2013 development branch

Gimp 2.9 30 May 2013 development branch with a unified / single window, support for images with upto 32 bit floating point precision (hurray!!), better colour profile management – trust me! my TIFF images looks the same in Mac OS X & GNU/Linux now, GEGL

Here I am trying to get Gimp 2.9 working on GNU/Linux flavours and if possible on Mac OS X as well & explaining photo processing with Gimp 2.9. I am thinking of using RawTherapee (http://rawtherapee.com/) for RAW conversion as I am not happy with UFRaw. For the colour management I am using Open-ICC profiles, Argyll CMS & UI

The workflow:

  1. Photos are taken in Adobe RGB 1998
  2. Monitor uses calibrated profile
  3. Processing is done with ProPhoto profile from OpenICC bundle
  4. RAWTherapee is used for RAW conversion
  5. Final output in JPEG and TIFF are saved with Adobe RGB 1998
  6. Gimp 2.9 compiled from source is used as it supports 16 – bit image formats
  7. RAM is used for GEGEL swap for faster performance by mounting tmpfs with 6GB (instead of default 50% physical memory size)
  8. Linux SWAP is also getting used upto 2.8 GB

 

Setting the stage

The first step is to install OpenICC profiles

Compile Gimp 2.9 as per the instructions

1. http://crunchbang.org/forums/viewtopic.php?id=25716

2. http://www.gimp.org/source/howtos/gimp-git-build.html

Install RAW therapee & get an image ready.

 

Errors & fixes:

The first error I came across was babl accessing a different process and can be fixed with a less “secure” kernel setting as shown below.

Change ptrace_scop by Editing  /etc/sysctl.d/10-ptrace.conf & the resultant value should be: kernel.yama.ptrace_scope = 0

Keel in mind that this will be applicable only after restart & we can change proc values as follows.

# echo 0 >  /proc/sys/kernel/yama/ptrace_scope

 

Second error:

Yet to find a solution for this.

babl-memory.c:114 babl_malloc()

(script-fu:1976): LibGimpBase-WARNING **: script-fu: gimp_wire_read(): error

 

 

I will be updating the document with more insights and automation. For now, the above steps should work and may be you want to look into some GIMP tutorials like: http://blog.patdavid.net/2013/03/the-open-source-portrait-postprocessing.html

 

Updated: 30-05-2013

the pivotal moment

This post could be an evolving one and may keep updated for sometime until I find it well refined. The post is the result of a chain of events happened over last 3 – 4 years where my focus was on people, people & people. I think I can say that I have transformed at a great pace, helped transforming many but for atleast last one month I was going in circles thinking about “why some people perform and others fail”. In other words some manage to transform and others get lost in a maze & the chances of someone getting lost is directly proportional how smart that person is ! Though somehow my idea was invest people, motivate, give room for mistakes / errors so that they learn from the same. But there was something wrong.

A very shocking event was, A young boy completed a simple task which another set of people I loved, supported, considered very smart and creative couldn’t do in more than six months in less than 2 hours. I had decided to give room errors to this particular group and did the same my organization as well. Instead of hiring from outside decided to “blaze” up folks from the team and create a scenario for growth. Personal, professional, organizational – carefully designed a scheme after working for months. Involved some external teams which I thought also could help and achieve organizational growth. The end result was, I found a pattern, inability to rise to the challenge.

 

Now this was a big learning for me, no I am not putting it as a failure but I had actually found a pattern, a common trait over a period in four years.

  • I believed in People, People and People – but failed to understand not everyone likes challenges. I purposefully acted as a facilator of challenges which others took as problems ! That too the ones without solutions.
  • People hated the need to change which came along with Challenges
  • Though everyone thinks, including me that they are capable of raise to the occasion  face challenges, when faced with a given challenge we all tend to fail. In short the challenges ended up as hurting egos than an opportunity to learn !
  • Why – My interactions with groups and with internal team was always about telling them about “why we do what we do ?” Passed on the message that, we are passionate about technology and should use our passion to create tools and solutions that can help stakeholders, clients, employees, users to enhance their lives. From my interaction with the external group also I learned they also do the same – they are passionate about something and they are on it. Two things went wrong here, internally the “why” was either misunderstood or never communicated beyond my immediate circle. With the external group I was talking to stakeholders who understood the “why” in their scenario but was working with those who never understood the “why”
  • I entrusted people with the duty of great things, after measuring them up & thinking that they will love it. I was also jealous that I was never given such opportunities while I was just obeying instructions – oh yea, it didn’t work too. Apparently, its difficult to understand and measure the opportunity at hand.
  • Ego – I am not sure whether it was my personal ego that I can do this or overconfidence and dependence in people or egoistic about the people around me. The ego part become much more destructive when I learned about Ricardo Semler & “Managing without Managers”. I became more confident about what I was doing, my ego told me that the folks around me can take up ownership. My ego told me that the groups I am involved are much more capable of Semco’s 10,000 odd people. The last nail in the coffin was the book “The Lean Startup”. I found some similarities, which made me tell this to a friend “We are doing something very unique here, partnered with few exciting people & though this is little bit crazy, I am quite sure that we will be studied in B-schools and management schools.”
  • I passed on ownership to people – my version was I was empowering them ! Now I realize that along with it I ended up spending too much time teaching people many things from scratch and spending more time with someone who was performing well. It seems those who were stuck, lost & became more frustrated, but I believed in the ultimate power of human mind which can fight any challenge. As for the external group, the PoC couldn’t even respond to emails & it was a completely lost game.
  • Over estimated myself – my ability to multi-task, ability to motivate, ability to pass on the answer to “why” to everyone ! This also resulted me liking people for what they are not, what they are not doing because my theory was all that needs is motivation and hard work. Kept on investing on this wrong assumption.
  • I ended up doing the same things again and again, ended teaching people the same things which was very unproductive. Instead of evolving or transforming, I was going in circles. I was simply frustrated.

 

What is next ?

Take a pivot, a deviation from what is being followed now & address each one of the above. This was where I was spending time for quite sometime. I met a friend & mentor this week. We talked for some 7 hours, I even argued.

Now I am at peace. Because I think I have it figured out. I am also proud, very proud that I have many transformed, some special cases whom I choose just by looking into their eyes and seeing the sparkle or the eagerness to finish a task though not matching any criteria – has came back to me about talking things I had no clue whatsover :-) But more than that it burned when seeing yet another group failing just to transform.

This is what I think what’s to be done right now. Just like facing the fireballs in the video below & I am not alone or shattered.

Answer the why

This is the most important aspect. Need to focus on making everyone around it understand this. May be there is a need to re-connect with many but its essential. Every stakeholder should be clear about why we are here & everything that we do are just means to achieve it.

Don’t train people from start !

Experience matters. period. We need experienced hands who are trained and who can answer why.

Don’t be too personal.

This comes as a trait when someone is too passionate something. Professional aspects are overrun Personal aspects. There has to be a clear balance between personal, professional growth finally contributing to the organizational growth.

 

People are different !

Very. Not everyone likes challenges or don’t even understand what they are. Sad but one can achieve anything if they wish for it is not true for everyone.

 

Now, I think this makes me at peace, helps me with a turmoil to certain level. And yes, very happy about learning something very useful.

 

Note: incomplete musings, there will be more upcoming versions. This may help people who are lost in their careers to look into themselves and fix them up & organizations which are growing organically.

Rating of Engineering Colleges in Kerala 2009

Posting a link to the rating of engineering colleges which Regional Engineering College Calicut Alumni Association Cochin Chapter (NITC) did in 2009. This was a 6+ month project undertaken by some of the most eminent engineers in the country or perhaps in the whole world. Sharing for public access. Further details can be found in the survey result pages.

Rating of Engineering Colleges in Kerala

SPAM. I hate it. So do you

Just found an old article I wrote on Spam. I had won first prize for an article competition for this one. I am quite proud about it :-) and I ended up writing this since someone had spoofed my email. I have no clue as to what happend to the prize / prize money I received ! Apparently the only thing I remember is finding about Domain Keys just few minutes before the final deadline of the competition. Oh yes, its written using LaTeX

So here it is: SPAM. I hate it. So do you 

The Balance sheet of Life.

The Gallery

I am sitting on a bench facing the small patch of land by the river. On my right there are two others who are Japanese and another European man. On the bench facing the river there are couple of other Japanese and an Indian talking to a European lady about languages. There were more people on the three benches that formed a small gallery. In front of us a man wrapped in white clothes and clean shaven head walks to the fire, stops and drops few herbs into it. The near by man, a doms, handed over a long bamboo stick and the man wrapped in white clothes took it and touches something hollow three times. I could hear the thud sound thrice. As he handed over the bamboo and walked away, muscles on my face tightened, I didn’t blink. I looked at the man sitting next to me, he didn’t blink either and I could see that his face muscles are tightened just like mine & the fire nearby is reflected in his eyes. Suddenly dogs started howling, it got louder and become so loud that for a moment I thought its pre-recorded sounds played in a loud speaker. But it wasn’t it. It died out just like it started.

 

Harischandra Ghat, Banaras, 2012 April 29.

 

There are few more fires burning by Ganges and the care takers are reshuffling the wood to help the fire. They use the long bamboo sticks and moved around woods using two smaller bamboo sticks as if they are tongs. A small boy of perhaps 3 years of age is playing nearby, may be the younger brother of the boy who is looking after the fire. Power came back and the area is now lightened up with the sodium vapor lamps. I could see men sitting little far from the fires and a new set of people arrived soothing the loud silence with “Ram nam satya hai” and went closer to the river. There were hardly any women around. I am sitting facing a small building and I knew that there are more benches on the other side of it. I started walking there, still looking at the fires. I walked past a small shop selling some sort of powders, perhaps sandal wood, earthen pots to collect the ashes and heaps of wood for the fire. Few kids were playing cricket with a small piece of wood and they are confused as the ball just gone missing. I was about to sit on one of the benches next to an old man and a sadhu that someone came hassling and settled there. I sat down on the floor next to the bench. There is yet another small construction – a small temple and a Trishul with a small fire burning next to it. In front me a dog is sharing the rugs with a sadhu who is busy powdering something with a stone. There were just a handful dogs and all were merrily wandering around apart from the one which is leisurely  relaxing on the rugs.

 

The old man sitting on the bench in front me turned around and asked “boat ?” and I said something in Hindi and now the man asks in Hindi, “Nau chahiye kya ?” I said, “nahi bhayya” and he leaves me alone. I sat there just being myself and still wondering where am I or rather what am I. It was peaceful and my thoughts about on going business meetings vanished, the outcomes didn’t bothered anymore. I thought about the day passed where I was thinking about a project proposal, it was funny, holed up in the most ancient city on the planet and thinking about a project where objectives were not clear, the past months, past years, the years that gone by which has placed me here, the times when I had to stop every three steps to mend straps of the sandal  & back to present when I carry the most expensive and sophisticated gadgets available. About thousands people whom I have met over the years, many with whom there is no contact anymore. Well, what’s there in balance sheet now ? Nothing very impressive but I knew it didn’t matter. The so called cheap chappal which lasts for 3 steps or the gadget which drains every three hours, everything is pretty much the same. The profitability of a life cannot be measured in what is left behind for one leaves few memories in the hearts of others to fade away. There is nothing else. Nothing else matters. A sadhu turned around and looked at me, I tried to smile at him, he didn’t respond at all. He stood up  and walked to the temple, walks around a bit and settles back to his place on the bench. A family arrives and they wants to go for a boat ride to see the Ganga Aarathi.

 

 

The same place earlier in the day:

 

The idea of starting a boat ride from a place which puts ‘the end’ amuses me and I followed them to the Ganges. Few boatmen approaches them and they started bargain with them. The fire beside them casted dancing shadows on the men and women.

Another boat man approaches me, unsure of my origin, he talks to me in some foreign language which I don’t understand, I ask him “aap kaham sai hai?” .. “Hum tho Banarasi hai” he replies. We talk about the boats, who owns the boats etc and I told him that I am trying to be with myself for now, he looks into my eyes, we both understands each other and he walks away. A medium sized beetle falls on the floor, split of a second a small dog rushes and savours it. Might be a lucky one to die here !

 

On far right lights from the buildings reflected in the still waters of Ganges the breeze fills me with the remains of the fire. The family manages a profitable bargain and sails away towards Dashashwamedh Ghat.

 

Aarathi at Dashashwamedh Ghat:

 

A profitable bargain ! What’s profit ? The traditional wisdom defines it as sums in a P & L statement. What’s mine ? Numbers from few complicated excel spreadsheets appeared in memory, not so bad they were. A small, glittering cloth fluttered in front me. The orange coloured cloths are available in the shops where they sell powders and earth pots, this is the same cloth left behind by someone, I felt quite uncomfortable about the double meaning, the pun, a balance sheet here.

Few men and women are sitting near are me silently staring into the fire infront of them. For a moment I had the urge to throw away the bag, the shirt I had which is already half unbuttoned to survive the heat. I stood up, picked up my bag and camera and started walking. I was feeling peaceful, a sense of satisfaction. As I was strolling yet another sadhu started into my eyes, an intense, piercing look and he made sure his eyes are locked with mine by slowly moving his expressionless face still working on powdering the dry leaves of salvation in his hands. I didn’t blink, kept on the stare and smiled at him. I walked past the scales where they measure the profitability of life, groups of men, dogs, cows, people on the benches near the fires, children playing by the fire. I knew I will have to return, because this is where we all belong, I knew that this is very easy to sell a Ferrari and become a monk but thats being incompetent, I still need to fill the cells of my balance sheet which exists in the souls of the people around me and become a monk owning a Ferrari or more.

Scales weighing wood, the final profitability calculator:

 

 

 

Epilogue

I sat down after crossing few more ghats and went back to the hotel room after a while. Later I went back to Delhi, finished of yet another meeting, lost the project for which I was there. But the journey adds a whole new dimension to life and a better understanding of everything around us. I am thankful to my folks @ Agileblaze, my family, friends, people who made these journeys possible & to the almighty to help me walk the path of enlightenment and teaching what really matters. I am back home, busy filling my balance sheet.

To be washed away by Mullaperiyar.

Mullaperiyar, Kerala, Tamilnadu, Idukki

Yesterday, the Christmas day I had gone out to get few vegetables which we had missed out during the shopping. Everywhere the discussion was about Indian Prime minister meeting with the head of a province / state to discuss about a dam which is supposed to collapse any moment killing millions of people.

For the uninitiated: Mullapperiyar is masonry gravity dam which 100+ year old, built during the British rule and it helps millions of people in Tamilnadu to earn their lively hood. The farmers in around 4 – 5 districts depends on this water to grow vegetable which feeds among other people, lots of people in the 100% consumer oriented, white collar job preferring, well informed and literate masses the neighboring state Kerala. The dam under dispute is made of largely mud and is situated in a tectonically sensitive region prone to tremors. The dam may collapse in 10 – 15 years if there are no natural calamities and there is a probability of causing the biggest tragedy known to humans. In the long term it will make another set of people who is using the same water to grow agriculture products will be perished. This makes the scenario a tough one to solve. The information overload created by social media, the trend following masses of Kerala is under a mass hysteria.

The main stream media shows only what people needs and no-expert opinion or condition of other dam etc are not considered and from young to old, everyone in Kerala believes the dam will break any moment and the neighboring state and some of the forces is using the occasion to gather some attention. Its interesting to note that the Kerala side is ready to build a new dam, somehow they believe that earth quakes will not happen during the period and are open to share water with neighboring state. The other side claims that the dam made of mud will withstand more water and claims that there will not be earthquakes.

Now from a logical point of view, I have no opinions or I am not biased. As far as I am considered, all the dams should be destroyed, all the nuclear plants must be destroyed and no plastics should be used etc etc. A long term solution without impacting both the sides seems to be a solution – which is not about building a new dam or decommissioning the existing one but reducing the water level and then both the sides sitting together around a table and discussing the matters the natural way. Yes, what is happening now is manglish speaking, sorry manglish spitting VJs and radio jockies are celebrating this as a Facebook revolution and this very post has a heading to attract some organic keyword based search from search engines.

 

Now, back to the photo and Christmas New year celebrations. People tend to believe its their last time to celebrate and not leaving any opportunity to celebrate. Years back I remember it was lot more difficult to educate and bring people together to fight against causes. Now its lot more easier. The only trouble is no-one seems to be bothered about real causes. Say Aadhaar aka UID project of India which is about slaving people for their entire life time and probably even after death if their bodies are not burned. In a land of poets and generations of people who never bothered about death or pain but only about freedom and fought for it this is indeed a strange phenomenon.

We had poets who wrote, slavery is unacceptable but death is. Have we forgotten ? The irony is complete when another set of people are promoting anarchy in the name of freedom and even using the father or nation for media campaigns. Right now media teams will be getting ready for the 4th season of Lokpal and finding stories supporting and against Anna Hazzare. There are nuclear reactors being built in the neighboring regions which will again make all of us live a dangerous life, probably eating mutated fish, with bulged bellies or long ears and we may not die. We will not die in a immediate flood but suffer, we will have mutated children looking like aliens in hollywood movies. Yet we prefer to live like zombies ?

Or are we just zombies who lost the ability to use common sense and educational background to choose between right and wrong ?

Anyways, I have my post with enough keywords, I will get lot of clicks just like some main stream news papers who has landing pages filled with the proper keywords. Give me my hits, help me make money. I wish I had a FM station & a TV station or two also !!

On a different note, the Idukki dam is about to complete its 50 year life span and we have to start a facebook page and start campaigning to build a new one right away. (And thus, I got one more keyword – Idukki. Hurray!!!)

Wishing a Happy New Year and its us who paints our lives happy or miserable and no one can help you do that.

for Aavani

Avani, Our friend Suresh’s seven year daughter is suffering from an illness called Medullo Blastoma (highly malignant Brain Tumor). She had undergone a surgery in Baby Memorial Hospital, Calicut, Kerala. She has to be taken to HCG hospital, Bangalore for further diagnosis and treatment within next few days. The financial requirements for the further treatment is estimated at 4 – 5 Lakh Indian Rupees (10,000 USD) & we are trying to help in emergency. As its difficult to raise such a large sum immediately, we are requesting help from the community.

We have opened an account for the solely for the purpose and requesting everyone to contribute whatever little you can.

Hareesh who is Aavani’s neighbor can be reached at  +919656223338 for more information about Avani or Visit – http://helpaavani.blogspot.com​ where we will post updates.

Requesting everyone to help and share the news among your immedeate friends. If you are working in a office may be something like collecting from your friends and depositing to the account will help out.

If you think you help the little violinist, here is further details:

Account Name :    Aavani Suresh treatment Fund
Bank & Branch :   State bank of India, Calicut Govt medical College Branch
Savings Account Number : 318 6628 2581
IFSC Code : SBIN0002206
Swift Code : SBININBB392

Detailed information:

Aavani Suresh, 7 year old girl child, was having a history of vomiting and consulted paediatrician (Dr Rosely Kurian, Near Presentation School, Chevayur, Calicut). The child was also having mild fever. The paediatrician prescribed antibiotic, and paracetamol and the vomiting subsided during the course of medicine. Two days after the completion of the course of medicine, the vomiting in the morning started again. The paediatrician found some problem and advised Mr Suresh (Father of Aavani) that an ENT consultation is required for the child. Mr Suresh took the child to Baby Memorial Hospital, Calicut and consulted Dr Gopakumar(ENT specialist, Baby memorial Hospital). Dr Gopakumar also found out that the child is having balancing problem when closing her eyes and recommended to do MRI scan of brain.

They have done MRI plain and MRI with Medicine. In MRI scan, the radiologist reported likewise “possibly Ependymoma, differential diagnosis includes Medullo Blastoma”. The MRI result was shocking. There was a
large tumour of 3 cm diameter in the fourth ventricle of the brain near the brain stem. After seeing the MRI, Dr Gopakumar recommended to meet Neurosurgeon Dr Shivakumar(Baby memorial Hospital) for further
treatment.

Dr Shivakumar told that this is a case of Medullo Blastoma and needs surgical removal. Better to do it as early as possible because the tumour is growing rapidly and it is obstructing the flow of cerebrospinal fluid in
the brain. He also told Mr Suresh that he could go for a second opinion with any other neurosurgeon of his choice. Mr Suresh met two neuro specialists and they also told him that there is no option other than surgical removal of the tumour. Mr Suresh met Dr Shivakumar to discuss about chances of complication, cost of surgery etc. Dr Shivakumar told that there are so many complications in every neurosurgery, but there is no other option. The surgery will take about eight hours and the approximate cost will be around ninety thousand rupees. He also told that, after the surgery, the tumour cells have to be sent for a Biopsy to see whether the cells are malignant (cancerous) or not.

Mr Suresh and his friends gave consent for Neurosurgical removal of the tumour and the surgery was done on 20th July 2011 by Dr Shivakumar at Baby memorial Hospital, Calicut. The surgery was successfully completed without much complications and the sample of the tumour was sent for Biopsy. Dr Shivakumar told that the surgery was successful and the biopsy report will come in a week’s time. On 26th, the biopsy report came with a very sad news that the tumour cells are highly malignant and suggested craniospinal radiation. Dr Shivakumar told that the child requires radiation therapy after fifteen days (usually it takes about 15 days for the brain to stabilise after the surgery). Dr Shivakumar also suggested that it is better to go to a paediatric oncology specialised centre with latest equipments which helps to reduce the after effects of radiation.

As per the suggestion from some of the well experienced nuclear medicine specialists who deal with radiation therapy, we decided to go to HCG oncology centre, Bangalore, for further treatment. (Hospital website: http://www.hcgoncology.com/). This hospital is selected because of their very latest equipments and highly experienced team in paediatric radiation oncology. We have already submitted all relevant medical documents to the Doctor’s panel at HCG oncology hospital and we are waiting for their reply in order to get admitted. As per the initial discussion they informed us that the average treatment cost will be around 5 lakhs. We are expecting the admission in the hospital within two to four days for further treatment.

Update: 4th August, 2011

Aavani has left to Bangalore with her parents in a car from Calicut via Palakkad-Selam-Hosur & few friends are trying to arrange accommodation in Bangalore. She will reach Bangalore tomorrow morning.

Aavani about to leave for Bangalore ...

Pigeons in the hostel and Google+

Now that Google has re-realized the potential of social networking or cashing on human relationships I am writing down my ramblings on the phenomenon called “everyone needs to satisfy their ego or attention” aka Facebook effect.

Somehow I was lured into the social networking arena long back I remember signing up with a alternate mail address in Orkut and filling in minimal information because of  privacy concerns. Irony was when in 2005 I became one of the first cloned human beings and had trouble chasing down the culprits. (Finally decided not take legal action as two of the involved parties will face deporting from Gulf and permanent ban). The positive side of the incident was I became increasingly aware of the potential and dangers of the medium, read about anything and everything in the topic including the definite papers from Orkut. One of the most interesting communities I found on Orkut was “I hate pigeons in the hostel” This was a perfect example the ideas explained in the paper “Exploiting geographical location information of web pages” but here, not just location information was shared, but a person’s innermost feelings and opinions about pigeons were available at the disposal for exploitation / targeting. Eventually I had moved out of social networks and tried to build a real world network called Koottam.org along the lines of certain couch sharing projects and is still pretty much active.

 

Let’s take deviation and take a look at Google’s revenue stream. Most of it comes from display advertisement even though the company is fighting Apple in the handheld market and Microsoft in the enterprise market by providing office clones via browsers. To complete the eco-system Google Appengine and enterprise market place also is being established. But all these businesses are still in pre-alpha mode compared to the display advertiment market which it effectively does by  making use of content partners aka Google Display Network, various frontends like Gmail, Google groups, Orkut, AdSense etc. Though poineers in social networking Google never seemed to be interested in the business until Facebook started pushing Like buttons and various share options aggressively. At the time of writing major tech portals only allow one to post comments after signing in via Facebook or Twitter and of the 5 random display partners from the Google display network I verified talks nothing about Google but has either Facbook Like or Share enabled and some even have a facebook fan page occupying half the home page. In short Facebook was slowly eating into the core business of Google and sharing this information with a new search engine called Bing. This new search engine had recently established a praetorship with Yahoo! another not so big search engine. Along with this, the internet killer, sorry, Facebook slowly started replacing content with Facebook pages and presents not so cool, but easy statics about their pages to every one  500 million people who was unware of online advertising or tools like Urchin (Google Analytics) or Google Adwords.

 

I am not sure how many of the google display partnersites are integrated with Facebook but considering the large number of penetration, including Youtube its pretty much evident that Facebook/Bing tracking systems gets updated about activity in Google’s vast display business simultaneously. And there was a big catch Facebook and thus Bing always knew whether the visitor likes pigoens or not but Google has completely missed the point and employed the pigeons for ranking pages. This information about pigeons which Google ignore is a big threat to the core business as it depends on CPC / CPA. With the massive amount of data available to Facebook and the possible integrations with Bing, it will not take them much longer to come up with Adworks competition with better targeting. I will be surprised if Facebook doesn’t launch advertising outside of their massive platform via facebook share like widgets.

 

I am not impressed about Google+ expect for the added privacy features but that comes with a price called circles which are extremely difficult to create and manage even using a 22″ monitor. Also until today, I mainted different email ids and accounts for managing social networks and communication. Suddenly, combining social network to my primary e-mail id itself is the biggest privacy issuse as far as I am concerned.

But  Google will eventually learn about what we think about pigeons and over come the competition. Reason being the new doors which google has opened with the new product and upgrades to google adwords, Google apps etc. Its common knowledge that the social networks are the biggest consumers of content on portals like YouTube. With the recent announcement of DRM based YouTube rentals and availability of Social Gold reward coins I am assuming Google will be able to do some crazy things. Google Offers another very promising new launch which can be piggy backed on G+. A very cool idea Google Offers can try is ability to exchange Google’s virtual currency for offers via the new service. Game developers will be very soon opened doors to develop games on G+ & armed with the virtual currency Google has finally a weapon against Facebook’s plans to become world’s biggest bank. I am looking forward to see the roll out of location aware offers via G+ which can be further incentives by SocialGold and tieup all this with Google’s primary business of display advertisements. I am not forgetting about Google TV and building an extension to adwords which can show ads on TV and make people share it on G+ and much more. Groups is another massive amount of untapped data which G+ could make use of and from what I have read, the Google groups team is already sitting in the same building as that of the Emerald Sea building and cooking things. Looks like G+ is the technology giants attempt, a well rehearsed and executed attempt against threats from Bing+Yahoo & all knowing Facebook. Hope it works out and internet remains a free place rather than limited as pages within someone’s data center.