Feeds:
Posts
Comments

Archive for the ‘Me Reasoning’ Category

I was in IIT Powai a couple of months ago for a workshop in marketing which lasted a couple of days.
As such, we were put up in the in-campus residential suites for guests – which to say the least, blew my mind!

The hostel (2 people staying in a room) was nothing less than a 3 star place – which spacious and comfortable rooms, air conditioning, in-room phones, awesome food and even a great view. And all this from within the IIT campus!

I was attending the conference with Gaurang and we would stroll out exploring the IIT campus in the evenings when we had nothing else to do. For those who haven’t been to an IIT Campus, let me describe the place. It was beautiful!

A student haven.

Flood light lit grounds and courts open till late night, students painting the cultural center walls with art and preparing for the upcoming Techfest, some kids hanging out at the local juice wala – it was awesome! Something that I will always miss as a student who went to a day college.

During that time, Gaurang and me got into a discussion as to why there wasn’t any ground breaking research happening at the IITs. There is so much public money going to waste! (After all, the IIT fees are highly subsidized by the government)
For the amounts of money and effort spent on educating people by the government, as an outsider, I don’t see much happening in the research area (specially in the public sector / government fields) at the IITs. That in my opinion is a huge waste of talent.

Compared to us, colleges in the US contribute tonnes (as much as 50%) to the research that goes on within the country.

Well, I learnt something today which went a long way in explaining why our education system is the way it is …

I am reading “Imagining India” by Nandan Nilekani (the book is pretty awesome if you ever wondered why things are in India the way they are. It takes you on a journey of how the country has sometimes walked, occassionally run and often hobbled the 60+ years after indpendence along with tremendous insights on what can be done to change the systems. A must read for all our bureaucrats!)

Anyways, getting back to the topic – what happened is this.
Post independence, India was an extremely poor country. Inspite of this, Nehru along with the first governments, allocated a sizable amount to the development of the educational institutes in India. (and thankfully at that).

They even greatly subsidized the fees (at that time it was approximately Rs. 500 which was 1/3rd the actual costs).
However, in addition to this, they went and created special research organisations to research on various aspects instead of sending the research down to the IITs.

In addition to this, the amount of research which could be done in the IITs was grossly curtailed by the government itself.
Due to this, the college could not raise funds by doing research and the fees being highly subsidized, the colleges – became a loss making enterprise for the government from day one.

Which is the reason why nobody from the government cares much about the state of IITs and also which is why we have so few of them today.

Fortunately, what needs to be done is very simple.

  1. Free the IITs and institutes from the shackles of the HRD (which has a history of screwing things up at constant intervals of time).
  2. Let the institutes decide what fee structure they should go with and give them a free hand to implement this.
    (All US universities work on the same principle and it has worked well for them so far)
  3. Allow universities to do research in whatever area they please – so they don’t have to depend upon government grants as much as they do now. Not only will our teachers be better paid (thus raising the standard), our students will be more motivated to take up courses which have research in their key areas.
  4. Get rid of the stupid reservation system. It has been decades now since the Mandal Commission and its time for us to move on …
  5. Create thousands of more IITs. (Atleast people now are echoing this sentiment)

Anything more that you guys can think of, please add to the comments below. Thanks!
(I had a couple of more things in mind – but Wikipedia just went down and in that shock, I completely forgot what they were)

I hope the present government makes some drastic changes in this department. Starting with the HRD making an exit. (Don’t they have other things to manage anyways?)

Update (1-Aug-09):
Extremely interesting comments popping upĀ  in the Comments section. Be sure to check them out and add to it :)

Read Full Post »

After a lot of thought and deliberation and musings, I have concluded that:

“The value of a life is directly proportional to the number of people it touches in a good way and inversely proportional to the number of people it touches in a negative way.”

When you are gone, the summation of the loss which a number of people feel is equivalent to the value of your life.

Any thoughts on this?

[Update 1]
Modified the definition to take care of all the bad guys :)
See comment 2 below.

Read Full Post »

I have off late started judging businesses depending on their parking policies.
No seriously! If you see some of the extreme arm-twisting techniques and prices some of these malls use, it’s unbelievable.

Firstly, charging for parking is illegal (I think) and yet everyone does it!
But if you think about it, we Indians being the free-loaders that we are – would just abuse free parking and I know tonnes of people who regularly do it.

C’mon – haven’t you gone and parked at a mall – just to go somewhere else nearby.

So, after a lot of thought and consideration, I kinda agree being charged a nominal fee for parking my vehicle.
But at the same time, the price should be justified.

The places and policies that top my list are:

1. Crosswords (at Sohrab Hall)
They have reserved FREE parking for people visiting crosswords. All you need to do is – on your way back, get the ticket stamped which says that you were in the store.
This seems completely justified – considering the amounts they spend on reserving parking slots for their customers – the least people can do is visit the store and see what they have on offer.

2. Inox (Free parking for 30 minutes)
Inox charges 10 bucks for bikes and 20 bucks for cars – completely justified in Pune – and this also seems like the norm.
However, what I really like about them is that they have 30 minutes of free parking. (This was an hour earlier but I could live with 30 minutes)

What this does is – gives you enough time to hop into the theatre and buy some tickets or grab some lunch at McDonalds without paying the equivalent of your Mc Donalds’ meal. If I am watching a movie for a couple of hours, fine – I agree with being charged – but theatres shouldn’t charge people for coming and buying tickets!

3. Pune Central (Parking charges redeemable during purchase)
Pune Central charges you for parking – but you could exchange the ticket inside when you purchase something.
This seems kinda harsh – considering that you may not like something and still be paying just to browse around the store. (Hey! Wait a minute! Shouldn’t stores be making it more conducive for you to browse around?)

Anyways, so yeah! What Pune Central does seems pretty just to me.
Actually Dorabjees in camp does the same thing – but you need to purchase a minimum amount of things (I think 100 bucks) before they will re-imburse you for the parking. Not entirely fair – but still okay sometimes.

Now for the worst offenders!

1. E-Square
Nothing – and I mean nothing beats paying 40 bucks for parking your car. I have noo idea what these guys do to your car. 40 frikkin bucks for parking! I could put a litre of fuel in my car for that amount and drive half way around Pune.
Totally sadistic, arm twisting tactics (and there is no public parking available near E-Square for miles!!!)

This is one of the reasons I really hate E-Square and avoid going there.
(The other being the weird seat arrangements and the crowds – but thats for another post)

2. Ishanya, Nucleas, Gold Adlabs, Lifestyle, etc. etc.
(And every other place which does not re-imburse you even on purchasing)
Ishanya and I however have a special history …

When Ishanya opened sometime ago near my house – I thought it was fabulous!
The mall was gigantic – you could get anything there, spend a good couple of hours just browsing around and even the parking was free. (and they have ample parking believe you me)

However, I was in for a rude shock one day when I drive in and am charged for parking which is not even redeemable.
The worst thing is that Ishanya is literally in the middle of no where and you have no option but to park your vehicle inside. Its like paying 20 bucks for an entry ticket to the museum!!!

Anyways, I came back and shot an email to them complaining about it.
To my surprise, the next day, I received a call from their head of operations (signing the email as President, ThinkingSpace Technologies has an effect sometimes) who assured me that they would start the redeemable policy soon and that they were charging parking because people would park their bikes there and go off someplace else.
(Yeah right! If you’re in the middle of nowhere, where do you think I’ll go?)

Anyways, its been a year and more since, and still nothing has been done.

However, I have stopped visiting Ishanya.
Result? I try and buy whatever I need from local places around my house. Ishanya being the last option.
(I dunno – I just somehow feel cheated going there)

To cut a long story short, I do empathize with businesses and their problem with free-loaders parking in places reserved for customers – but these businesses need to come up with more amicable solutions to this problem.
Charging monstorous amounts for parking is just going to hurt your business.

I love what Crosswords is doing – but I also understand its difficult to implement.
But I’m completely cool with the Pune Central approach too. (Redeem parking when you buy)

I actually have a better idea!
Redeem double the amount of parking when you buy something! (Applicable over a certain limit. For below the limit, just redeem the amount what you paid for).

Here is wishing some sense manages to creep into the heads of people making such idiotic decisions (especially the ones from E-Square) and hoping that ’09 is a brilliant and fun-filled year for everyone!

Read Full Post »

This happened the last time – and I bet it will happen again once the dust and smoke settles down.
Last time, people commended – how life went back to normal and the resilient nature of the people of Mumbai India.

It is actually sad that people approve of how life gets back to normal.
It should not! Lessons need to be learnt and things need to be changed …

We Indians are probably one of the most tolerant and laid back group of people in the world.
It’s time to get a little bit angry and a little paranoid …

It’s not too late to have a plan. Terrorism is upon all of us now – not only in J&K.
Time to stop covering our eyes and prepare to deal with these guys as and when the situation arises …

Read Full Post »

Startup hiring …

Yes we’re hiring …

There are millions of blogs out there on startup hiring which preach on the dos and don’ts of startup hiring.
I’m not trying to preach anything here – just sharing my experience with the first batch of hiring activities that we’ve been upto …

Hiring they say – is difficult – even more so with a startup.
We guys keep getting a decent amount of resumes every week which we religiously archive. So when we decided to get a couple of people, thats where we decided to look in first. We’ve had a multitude of resumes from various different segments (all computer related of course) – quite a few freshers and people with a year of experience and looking to change a job and some even with 2, 3, 4 and 5 years of experience. (Yes. We were shocked ourselves when we found out that people with so much experience want to ride the uncertain-startup-waves). But its definitely a good sign to see people wanting to not work in a multinational company, take a little bit of risk and do something extremely exciting at work.

The first thing that I personally check for is the to field of the email.
All people interested in joining ThinkingSpace, need to mail in their resumes at careers [at] thinkingspace.in.

It is unbelievable how many people bulk send their resumes to various companies and put all those addresses in the to field. C’mon people! Give me a break. If you cannot take the trouble of personally emailing a company you’re looking to join (something you will be investing the next 2 – 3 years of your life in) then I am not going to bother calling you for the interview – no matter how impressive your resume is.

As a matter of fact, the resumes of such people are not that great anyways – so this is a good quick filter.

The smarter ones bulk email putting you in the bcc field – better – but I still know you are bulk mailing. So out goes your resume. Learn how to use a mail merge next time.
Bulk mailing also indicates how desperate you’re to get a job and that you’re not particularly interested in the company you wish to join.

So far, we have been calling people directly for an interview – which works out decently well for us.
Except that some people are unprofessional enough not to show up and not inform you. Then they email you and tell you something to the effect of – I have my certification exam – can I come back next week. Yeah right!

The first inteview we do, we generally try to check whether the guy is right for a startup and whether a startup (particularly our startup) is right for them. So far, all the people we interviewed knew what a startup was like and gave decently convincing reasons as to why they wanted to join one.

After this is over, we generally start the technical process – which involves a few coding challenges and a rapid fire technical interview. I know we are doing this in the reverse order (first HR and then technical) – but it works for us.

There is no sense in spending time, money and effort in doing a technical – getting a good person and then finding that they didn’t even know what a startup was and what will be required of them.

The technical round is another shocker. It is amazing how many people over rate themselves.
The question – “On a scale of 1-10 (1 being the lowest) – where do you rate yourself in XXX” always gives an excellent picture of where the guy actually is.

The good ones generally tend to rate themselves much, much lower than the bad ones.
Its also shocking to see how many people with their basic computer fundas all mixed up think they can code well. I’m guessing this trend has something to do with the larger companies (read Infosys, Wipro, TechM) picking up large number of people with no coding skills and then training them.
People have become complacent knowing that if they have decent aptitude skills, they will make it.

Unfortunately for them, a larger number of companies don’t have thre resources nor the time to teach people the basics of OOPs or whether private constructors are allowed by the compiler and what happens when you define a constructor to be private. Four years of an engineering degree ought to have taught you atleast these things …

It also pays to be sincere and honest I feel.
Atleast for startups. You could know a lot of things, but when you don’t – you must have the heart to admit it and the drive to figure it out yourself.

Read Full Post »

I spent a good hour at Landmark (which is a pretty large bookstore in our city) the other day – having nothing to do. I ended up buying two books even though I entered the shop with the intent of just casually browsing through the store and passing some time …

While browsing, I had picked up a couple of books with the intent of buying them – but later placed them back on the shelf, changing my mind the last minute.
The books I eventually ended up buying were – The Alchemist (something that I have wanted to read since a long time) and Games Indians Play (a book in which the author tries to explain why Indians behave the way they do using Prisoner’s Dilemma in Game Theory)

The books I ended up placing back on the shelf were – “A Thousand Splendid Suns” by Khaled Hosseini (not the right time to jump into a large novel) and “It Happened in India” by Kishore Biyani (wasn’t very keen and would be able to borrow it from a friend later).

Anyways, getting back to the topic at hand – the reason I wrote this post – is because I was wondering — how we willingly spend money for different things.

I have never felt the pinch while spending money on books – I spent a good 400 bucks on books I didn’t even intend to buy when I got to the place.
Similarly, I never quite feel the pinch while buying computer hardware – say a new hard disk or some ram.

Honestly speaking, I have started feeling the pinch (computer hardware) a little as compared to my college days – but nothing compared to spending a similar amount on getting my bike serviced — or on buying clothes for example.

I found it ironic that I could buy books worth a 1000 bucks in the morning – and cringe when my mechanic told me later that evening that I would have to change the brake liner of my bike which would cost me 250 bucks.

I really wonder why…

Maybe its because the way we are brought up.
Maybe because I had a sort of a “no questions asked fund” for buying books as a kid – that I continue not to feel the pinch now.
Or maybe I just strongly believe in the benefits of buying books.

I really don’t know – but I definitely do believe — different people do have different policies on spending money on different things. I just really do not know why.

Read Full Post »

I met up with a friend of mine recently who is working with this big multinational company.
Lets assign this company a completely random name – just because I am too lazy and don’t want to keep typing it again and again … Umm .. lets call it TM.

Okay …
So this friend of mine – an extremely bright, intelligent and hardworking student from back in college joins TM thinking that its a big company with thousands of people – and he’ll have every opportunity to grow and learn there …

He couldn’t be more wrong …
When he met me, he was completely stressed out – and very dejected …
I couldn’t believe it was the same confident guy I knew back in college …

He was suffering from something I call – “The Big Company Syndrome”.
I’ve had so many of my friends tell me the same story this friend of mine tell me – and about this same company – TM.

Moreover, you can smell something fishy when a company asks its employees to sign a two year bond of Rs. 100,000 (or was it 200,000?) as means to retain them…

Anyways, in bigger “service” based companies such as TM, people get treated as resources.
Most often than not, your superiors don’t give a crap about you and you end up being the extreme end of the tail in which everyone above you is trying to please everyone else above them and as such, don’t bother with those below them.

A very common occurrence in companies such as these – is having no work and ending up on bench for a long, long time.
This might be extremely hard for many to swallow .. but according to me, you are already in an awesome spot.

If life gives you lemon … Make lemonade!

How difficult is it anyways?

  1. Cut the lemon in half.
  2. Get a glass of water.
  3. Squeeze each half of the lemon into the glass.
  4. Add a pinch of salt.
  5. Some sugar to taste.
  6. Stir well and drink chilled :)

My friend here, tried his best to get work – but his superiors just neglected him …
All his requests were met with a few peanut jobs – which he completed in a matter of days – and again, had nothing to do.
This, he explained, bothered him a lot – and rightly so …
When you have been hired to work, it hurts not getting any responsibilities …

But the really sad thing is that in such large companies, nobody really cares …

Unless you have a terrific team leader or project manager, you are going to be in the same predicament.
And chances of getting a great superior are very, very low …

If you are stuck in a similar situation, you have two options:

Option A
This is the more ethical and fun option to do:

  1. You type out a nice resignation letter.
  2. Pack up all your stuff.
  3. Delete all the personal files from your machine.
  4. Walk up to your manager – preferably when he is surrounded by other co-workers.
  5. Tell him what a jackass he has been.
  6. Throw the letter at his face.
  7. Storm out.

You’ll definitely get a better job. Don’t worry.
If you were good enough to be hired by this company, many other companies will take you easily.

Option B
Though I agree that this option borders on the unethical side, it is completely justified in such a situation.
Company loyalty can go take a hike.

In this option, the first thing you should do is stop asking your boss for work. That is simply the dumbest thing to do.
Come to work on time, punch in and relax.

You’re still getting paid right?
Do the work they give to you – but don’t be too enthusiastic about it – because honestly, nobody cares!

In your free time – and you’ll have tonnes of it, read, blog, write some pet hobby projects, put it up on the internet for others to use and grow yourself …

If you really get good at it, you can even consider freelancing – but this depends on how good you are hiding it during company hours.

I have heard stories of people running entire software side businesses using the company phone of TM itself.
They work as software contractors – getting work from some people – outsourcing to others – and taking a cut in the middle. They make this money in addition to also getting paid from the company for doing nothing.

This would be entirely shocking to many – but sadly, this is the way most large Indian software companies work.
You just have to learn how to work the system …

If you can’t, you’ll probably screw up your health with all the tension or commit suicide with all the depression.
And if you look at it – in the long scheme of things that is life – a couple of bad years in a bad company does not make any difference …
On the other hand, it just makes you stronger and wiser …

So when life gives you lemons, just make lemonade yaar!!! :)

[ Min number of posts to go till Mar 17, 2008 : 75.]

Read Full Post »

Older Posts »