Tuesday, April 16, 2013
Friday, January 09, 2009
It is this thought that has been troubling me for some time now. If I am not going to exist forever, what is the point in building a fortune for myself and my family? Why should I persevere to ensure that my future generations live a good life? Why should I worry about what happens to relatives, friends, animals, birds, insects, trees, water, air, earth, space, the Universe? Why should I think about little insignificant details of my everyday life like whether I will be able to make it to the station in time to catch the 07:48 am fast train so that I can reach my work place on time. Why should I bother whether Arsenal wins the EPL/CL/CC/FAC/WCC/CS etc? Shouldn't I care two hoots about how India performs at the Olympics? Or how Argentina fares at the World Cup? Why should I go into delirium every time my site stats show that the hits have increased? Is there any point to it all?
And of course, as is wont to happen with all things in life, these thoughts, just like millions of my cells have before and like millions will in the future, die out. They are nothing but random neural firings, brought on by the caffeine. I am sure that drowsiness will get the better of me and the last thoughts that pass through my mind before it is consumed by sleep will be of that babe I saw across the street today. And when I wake up in the morning, all of this will be a distant memory. I will want to attack the day with renewed vigour and zest. Every freshly generated cell in my body will cry out for oxygen and lambast me if I fail to get in the daily dose of euphoria, despondentness, anxiety, expectation, frivolity, stinginess - any modicum of emotion to satiate my desires. I will want to debate the future of the bacteria that treat the wastewater at my place of work; crease my brow over the amount of reports that my bosses ask of me; smile when I see that my wife is calling me just to say hello; plan for that StarCraft extravaganza this weekend with my brother; think of ways to chide Yuri when Chelsea defeat Manchester United; await the end of the month to see the numbers in my bank account grow. Suffice to say, that I will be engulfed in my daily activities so much, that I will forget all of this death business.
And come the end of the day, some part of me will begin to wonder (probably some brain cells on their way out) as to what is the meaning of it all. Will this article make me famous and ensure posterity? Will future generations ever read this blog article and comment upon the grave (pun intended) nature of the subject matter? Questions, I wish I will never know the answers to - yet I seek desperately.
Monday, December 08, 2008
49-O? Constitution of India? What the heck is that?
Of late, in wake of the Mumbai attacks, a chain email which was hitherto being circulated during election time has surfaced again. This email, funnily enough, claims that (sic) "there is a system in our constitution, as per the 1969 act, in section " 49-O" ... convey the presiding election officer that he doesn't want to vote anyone!"
A clinical dissection of this email is warranted because if the Constitution of India allows us to not vote for jokers, then the writers of the Constitution (may their souls rest in peace) need to be thanked profusely!
Okay. Google for Section 49-O of Indian Constitution. What's this? All results points to pages which have the contents of the forwarded email! Hmmm... Must dig deeper to solve this mystery. Does the author mean the Constitution? Or does s/he want us to refer the Election Commission Rules? Is there any link to the Conduct of Election Rules? Will Radgovin aka Gman be able to unearth the truth in the quest for knowledge to destroy ignorance? Will he stop asking rhetorical questions? The answer of course is no.
I wonder what the Election Commission of India has to say about this:
Link 1.: http://archive.eci.gov.in/
No link to the Conduct of Election Rules on this site. However, there is a link which says, Proposed Electoral Reforms. Which brings us to:
Link 2.: http://archive.eci.gov.in/PROPOSED_ELECTORAL_REFORMS.pdf
Okay. This says that there is a need to amend the Rules 22 & 49B of the Conduct of Election Rules, 1961 so as to maintain anonymity of the voter who has voted for no one i.e. he has chosen to reject all probable candidates. This has been pending with the politicians (who make the rules, of course) since 2001.
Link 3.: (after a lot of searching) http://lawmin.nic.in/ld/subord/cer1.htm
The Motherload!!! Here's what the Rule 49-O is all about:
49-O. Elector deciding not to vote. - If an elector, after his electoral roll number has been duly entered in the register of voters in Form-17A and has put his signature or thumb impression thereon as required under sub-rule (1) of rule 49L, decided not to record his vote, a remark to this effect shall be made against the said entry in Form 17A by the presiding officer and the signature or thumb impression of the elector shall be obtained against such remark.
Does not make sense, does it? I mean, the right to voting secrecy is the cornerstone of democracy. The fact that all our politicians are united against such an act goes to show that our "major" political parties are not all that "divided" after all. I mean, they are always united against a common enemy: the educated masses. Whenever the "educated" class gets agitated, these (*^*%$^) find ways and means to quell their anger. In the mean time, the poor uneducated masses are given hand outs just before the deadline for election commission rules to kick into place. Just to keep their memories fresh so that they know which button to press on election day. A look at the figures of voting in cities vs. voting in towns / villages will show you why the politicians who are in power are in power. Check the living conditions in constituencies of some of the powerful ministers in any state. And I am sure that you will not be surprised to see the people there living contented, peaceful lives. Can't really blame them for that.
And what are the "educated" doing in the mean time? Lamenting about the lack of leadership in the Government, commenting on the state of traffic, security, roads, environment, health care, life style, moral righteousness. Oh, that & forwarding emails spreading disinformation. Don't get me wrong; I am part of all of this myself. I am not one to claim that I am over all of this. I am as susceptible to criticizing all that is wrong around me as the other guy.
I am an Indian, after all.
Another good link to read about the Right to Say No:
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Wednesday, November 26, 2008
Searching for good blogs
Tip 1: Ask your friendsNothing beats personal opinion. Google blog search and other related devices for searching for blogs on the internet can only take you so far. For example, I am currently subscribed to two Arsenal related blogs - A Cultured Left Foot (ACLF) and Arseblog, which in my opinion offer damn good reading material for Arsenal fans. However, these two do not appear in the top 20 or so search results. Most of the top results will be populated by popular sites where the "aam junta" go for their daily kicks. However, when you are looking for specific reading which will appeal to the thinker within you, it makes sense to take advice from like minded people. Ask your friends, chat to people about blogs they like (with topics of your interest), ask on orkut/facebook/wherever.
Tip 2: Check wordpress.com / technorati for "happening" blogs of the dayThese sites display a list of the hottest blogs of the moment. There is a reason that a blog article appears on the front page of such sites: popularity. And not just popularity amongst the general masses; popularity because they are good blog articles appreciated by chronic readers! There is a blog I subscribe to: Angry Aussie. The guy has a knack for humour & I picked up the link to his blog via Wordpress. Another pointer for a good blog is the number of comments it has. A blog having multiple comments by different people over a period of time is more likely to have good content as opposed to the blogger interjecting to reply to every other comment.
Tip 3: Once you find a good blog, check for related linksThe best bloggers hunt in packs. Correction, make that "write" in packs. That is not to say that they know each other in real life. Writers write because they have read a lot and cannot control the urge to pen down their own two pennies worth. The very fact that they are writing well suggests that they are reading well. Check the "blogs I visit" section of any good blogger. You are bound to find some wonderful reading stuff over there as well.
Subscribing to good blogs
Tip 4: RSS & SyndicationNow that you have found a blog that regularly updates and has exceptional content, you want to ensure that fresh material uploaded there is made available to you at the moment it gets posted. There are three ways to this: RSS via browser, feed reading software, online syndication providers. RSS stands for Really Simple Syndication where your browser automatically downloads latest posts on your "favourite" blogs. These are simple text downloads and will not be as effective if the blogger of your choice has a penchant for the visual media. Nevertheless, these are a very good starting point for you to decide whether a blog is worth reading or not. Syndication softwares download stuff to your PC and the best one around is FeedDemon (available for free download). Similarly, you can go online at google reader / bloglines / etc. to get fresh updates of your favourite blogs.
Tip 5: Sign up for emailSo you are tired of firing up your browser to visit that blog that you like reading the most. Check if there is an option to receive the feed via email. This is a very nifty option that most bloggers like to give to their readers. Nothing as convenient as getting the latest article in your inbox, is there? :)
Improving the content of blogs
Tip 6: Never thought that you could actually improve blogs in the blogosphere?Think again. Writers write because they want people to read. How will there be an impetus for a writer (unless s/he has a compulsive typing disorder) to keep on doling out good reading material? The answer is: feedback. Bouquets & brickbats are typically welcome and the best of bloggers take the time to read each and every comment posted about what they have written. Wherever improvement is warranted, it is usually implemented. So go ahead and type out that witty comment that you thought of. It might just make some one's day! :)
Wednesday, November 19, 2008
This is in reference to your article in The Times of India dt. 19/11/2008.
I would like to state up front that I am not in support of any political party that claims
to be working for the benefit of the local Maharashtrian.
Your article states that the data has been sourced from Maharashtra Government.
What were the means used to source these data? Was it gotten under RTI Act, 2005?
Again, the data is for industries in the private sector i.e. the so called micro, small, medium
& large industries. What about the data for Government organizations such as the MCGM,
the Railways, BEST, et al.? Why not publish data from the above records?
As I recall, the pro "sons-of-the-soil" parties are all agitating because of the Government
"safe" jobs being given to outsiders. You have very cleverly deflected attention from that
by publishing data of private sector and pumping up the high percentages.
I am all for equality in employment. I don't care who gets the job (Maharashtrian or otherwise)
so long as that person is capable to handle the responsibilities of the job & eligible for the vacancy.
I believe that the private sector employs people on the basis of their abilities and irrespective
of their background i.e. there is no scope for reservation. That they have employed more number
of Maharashtrians probably points to the fact of the superior ability of the said employees.
Either that, or the local Unions are strong holds of the locals. However, to me it seems more of
an exception rather than the norm.
I am sure that your headline will get lots of attention. I am also sure that you are going to get lots
of flaming emails in your inbox. But you deserve all of the hate that you will get; simply because as
an irresponsible media person, you have published an article for the sake of publicity and not for sharing
Govindraj S. Umarji
Wednesday, November 05, 2008
This is a review I had written for my own laptop (for a contest organized by a leading monthly magazine)
A laptop is about as effective as its owner wants it to be. In spite of all the hype surrounding newfangled laptops available in the market today, my plain old vanilla Compaq C301TU scores over them when it comes to sheer basic productivity. Sporting a spartan configuration of 1.6 GHz Celeron processor and 512 Mb RAM, the C301TU is not F1 class laptop material. However, it does provide for fundamental office work applications and simple gaming.
Performance: Since I am running Windows XP, speed is never a concern for me. The 512 Mb RAM suffices for most office applications and I can easily multi-task between office applications and roller coaster tycoon, if I so desire. Of course, for resource intensive tasks such as CAD, it makes sense to have minimum applications running. Switching between applications is a breeze and there is hardly any lag when switching from movies to office and vice-versa.
Looks and Handling: I opted for the understated look of the Compaq over the glossy finishes of the HP/Dell laptops. The C301TU is black and silver, has a wide screen and handles well. It can be carried around for hours without being a pain in the shoulder!
Connectivity: Wireless capability for a low price is the USP of this laptop. Coupled with a standard RJ-45 ethernet LAN port, this makes the laptop one for those addicted to the internet.
Battery life: The C301TU has consistently given me battery life of over 2 hours over two years. Since I live in an area prone to load shedding, this utility comes in really handy when work needs to be done and there is no power available. Even with movies/audio running, battery life is over 1.5 hours.
Applications: The laptop did not come loaded with a lot of software. However, a basic investment in office software makes the laptop very useful.
Support: Compaq (HP) offers good customer care, with all the software/hardware drivers available at their site. However, I have had to send constant reminders to the local dealers for getting an extended warranty. This is probably an area that requires HP's attention.
Cost: The deal is made sweet by the price, which was a modest 32k when I purchased the laptop over two years ago.
Overall a nice and cheap laptop to own and maintain. Great value for money for the corporate types on the move.
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Friday, August 01, 2008
Okay. Some people might think its a tad too early for this article. After all, pre-season has just dawned on us and there is still a fortnight for the 2008-09 English Premier League to start in all earnest. However, the clairvoyant in me cannot resist the urge to pen down my feelings: if only for the sake of posterity (or even better, for the sake of "I told you so!")
I've been an Arsenal supporter for eight years now. Come to think of it, I think I became a football fanatic (as opposed to a cricket fanatic) because of Arsenal. Much was made of Manchester United's treble achievement in 1999. I think it was a Reader's Digest article I read about this which made me sit up and take notice of this sport. Till then, football for me was just the game to be played during the rains (when of course, there was no way of playing cricket) Also, I had been recently introduced to the EA Games FIFA series of games.
The first team I noticed in the English Premier League was Arsenal. The symbol was the legendary cannon on the red background. And I thought to myself - that's an interesting name, Arsenal. It conjured up images in my mind of players running on the ground with guns drawn, gunning down opponents who dared to stand in their way. Incidentally, the first FIFA game I played, I chose Arsenal as my side and played against Liverpool. As is wont to happen to a newbie to football (and especially, football played on the PC) I lost.
However, the name of the team and some of the players stuck. I found that I was often selecting Arsenal to play against a plethora of opponents. I found that I could interlink passes between a certain Dennis Bergkamp and a Marc Overmars pretty well. And there was this chap called Thierry Henry, who would constantly outrun defenders at will. I was slowly falling in love with this team called Arsenal.
I don't remember the exact time I made the transition from cricket to football. However, I think that getting admission to an Engineering college which had football enthusiasts aplenty had a lot to do with it. Circa 2001, I started following the Premier League. And in 2002, Arsenal won the EPL under Arsene Wenger for the second time. There had been some records set during this season; however, I was to be made aware of these only after two years.
I took up playing football when in college and realized that I had certain qualities essential for a footballer. One, the ability to spot my team mates. Two, being in the right place at the right time. Three, a loud voice to shout out instructions to team mates. :)
I realized that Arsenal represented in every way the way I felt football should be played. It epitomized team work and passing and the bonding of the team was evident in the celebrations. No matter who scored, the entire team would join him to celebrate. And so would we fans.
The 2003-2004 EPL season was a realization of dreams of sorts. Arsenal played great football and won the Premier League after going unbeaten through the season. Every goal was a treat to watch and every match won was a thrilling spectacle. It was quite befitting then that the most successful team in the history of the Premier League should end this unbeaten streak. What was not befitting was the subsequent results that the team faced. A certain Mr. Mourinho took advantage of this and took an unknown Chelsea team to the top.
The seasons after that were nothing to write home about. We knew that Wenger was in the process of rebuilding a team and that honours would come. That a coveted prize came within our grasp and was snatched away was the cruel twist of fate. Although history will show Arsenal as the beaten Champions League finalists of 2006, live witnesses will remember the game as one totally dominated by Arsenal.
I digress. This article has got nothing to do with the past and / or my love of Arsenal. This article is about the coming year.
I last recall looking forward as eagerly to a season like this in 2003. The previous season, we had been unlucky in losing out the title to United. The 07-08 season was another heartbreak for the same reason. Yet, whatever I saw during that season enthuses me with confidence for the coming season. There is a sense of expectation, an anticipation of glory coming to The Emirates.
We have in our midst, for the first time in many years, a Winner. Something that was lacking all these trophyless years. Sure, we had Thierry Henry, Ljungberg and other veterans who had all been there and done that. However, they were at times out of place in the new squad that Arsene was building. Right now, Arsenal have a gem of a person in Cesc Fabregas. The young lad of 21 has under his belt a Euro win. And that win alone is enough to sustain his hunger for further titles.
Already, there are other players at the club who look up to this guy, who is short in stature but large in accomplishments. Look at his experience: filling up the boots of the erstwhile Patrick Vieira, taking up the creative responsibility in the midfield at a tender age of 18, Champions League silver medal at 19, being selected for the Spanish national team, Euro win at 21. So much accomplished in such a short time. Yet, the difference now is going to be the fact that he has won something. And it is reflected in his statements. Once you get a taste of winning, you have the confidence to go ahead and do it again.
Then again, we have winners with never-say-die attitude in the team. Players like Sagna and Eduardo, talents unearthed by Le Boss who have it in them to turn matches on their heads. Plus, they don't have the mental baggage of past losses; of just being there and not winning. The team is young and they are more athletic and agile than the other teams of the EPL. That this fact has not been used to our advantage is the only sore point I have.
There is so much to look forward to. And so much media pressure on these young chaps. I am sure they will cope well. I believe this team has what previous Wenger teams lacked: the so-called bottle that is required to grind out results. A combination of bad luck and loss of focus resulted in them losing out on a rightful Premier League title. However, this time around, things are going to be different. All because of a win.
This year, as always, Arsenal are placed first in the EPL at the start of the season because of the alphabetical arrangement. At the end of it, they are going to be at the top of it because they deserve to be. More importantly, they also have the desire to be.
Thursday, July 17, 2008
Following is an email I have written to a friend who is at the crossroads of his life and facing a "quarter-life" crisis [as opposed to mid-life crisis]
Hope that something good comes out of this long letter for the chap! :)
Dear Confused Friend,
Its good to see that you have managed to set a timeline for your future after LnT. I am sure most of the people your age will never have done such a thing. Heck, even grampa's like me don't do that sort of stuff! :)
I am sure that the email took more than an hour to type [and around a month to think up]. I am sure all that thinking will help you though. Here are my two cents worth:
1. Do you really want to start your own firm? Are you the kind of person who can get work done out of people? This point is definitely worth thinking about because the gist of your email [as I understand] is that you want to take up higher studies [MS/MBA] with the eventual aim of starting your own business. While owning a business is a swell thing, there are many hurdles in the path to success. The most basic one of them being: you have to pay other people their salary before you can claim your own. I am not going to insult your intelligence by saying that you have not thought of these things. However, I will advise you to delve into the business of owning your business a little more.
2. In today's world, you really don't need an MBA to make it big with your own business. Sure, it looks good on your visiting card and on your company website to write Mr. Such N Such, MBA, Stanford. However, with the passage of time, people [your customers] will be impressed only by the quality of your work and not your high CPI at some obscure course during an MBA education.
3. You need not have experience in "two of the biggest categories" to strike gold. You are expected only to understand the basics of finance and there should be a willingness to learn. What do you & I know about finance and/or accounting? Or consulting for that matter? You cannot have relevant work experience in those fields unless you work for such a firm. Since you are stuck with LnT for another year, why not try and get into the financial aspects of things? Work with Marketing to get a feel of cash flows and project finances. Work with Proposals to get a feel of market prices and how LnT is affected by it. Work with Contract Management to understand how to deal with Govt. of India organizations and learn about indirect taxation. I'd suggest working in at least one of the above dept. to add to your repertoire of skills. [if any!!! :)]
4. Don't disregard whatever you have learnt over the last year [even if it seems trifle to you]. Once you are out in the market for other jobs / starting your own work, you will realize the value of all the Excel / SAP / soft skill knowledge that you gained here. Spruce up your resume by making even mundane work sound exciting. I have no doubt about your conversational skills [you are second only to me! ;)]. A resume can get you an interview with a new employer / client. However, your speaking abilities and quality of work will get you the job.
5. Charity begins at home. Speak to Ms. Mabel Abraham, PGM and get involved in some of the volunteer programmes organized by LnT. I don't know if you can get a certificate for your volunteer work. However, you can and definitely will get references. An US MBA is all about networking and building contacts. So, to them, what people say about you is as important as what your GMAT scores / Chem. Engg. percentages say about you. Americans are known to weigh extra curricular activities more than academic. You've got it made with footer, now go get some volunteer experience.
6. As regards your dilemma over the behemoth vs. start-up company, I've only one suggestion to give: take your time. You've got time on your side - you are just 23. Work with both companies to have a feel of how things run. LnT will have already exposed you to the nuances of running a big business and interacting with people. Working with a small firm as an employee will give you closer control over costs and more personal interaction. Get more interested in the financial aspects of all work you do because eventually, when you have your own business, its all going to be about the money. The sooner you understand the nitty-gritties of finances, the better it will be for your start-up.
7. Its not necessary to get a Post Grad. to start a firm in environmental management / any new field. Starting your own company is all about managing people at the end of the day. You can & will always get people who are smarter than you, more intelligent and more knowledgeable. However, if you have the vision, they will willingly follow you to create riches for both you & themselves.
8. Last but not the least, I have written this information with a larger intended audience in mind. I will be putting this stuff on my blog. [with your name removed of course!] I hope you don't mind. And even if you do, I am going to post it anyway! :)
Govindraj S. Umarji
P. S. I never lose an opportunity to get an article for my blog for free! :)
Wednesday, June 25, 2008
This is a letter I am contemplating sending to the VP of HR of my company.
This is in reference to the "GET Problem" email you will have received from a GET today.
I don't agree to the forum and the means that said GET has used to convey his message to you. However, the message in the email is of pertinence. You will appreciate that Mumbai is a costly place to live in, even for the most affluent of people. For a GET who is earning 15,000 per month [and will probably earn around 18,000 per month after being confirmed] there is no scope for savings / investments. Most of the salary amount will end up in some landlord's bank account and the remainder will serve for daily necessities and miscellany.
I am a PGMT, and considering the fact that I hold a Masters Degree from IIT Bombay, my remuneration is not commensurate with what my classmates are receiving. However, since I like the work I am doing [and also since I have a permanent residence in Mumbai] I see no reason to leave our company. The same may not be true for other new joinees and one really cannot fault them for that.
Our company has introduced a policy of personal bond for retaining "talent" for two years. However, the futility of this will be evident once the current batch of 2007, leaves for greener pastures in 2009. People working here for two years will not serve any purpose. In two years time, we will not be able to recover the time and effort that has been put in the training of a GET.
In the ten months or so that I have spent in our company, I have seen some hard-working and intelligent team members leave. Some have left for higher education, some for higher pay packets and some for convenience. These people could have been retained and their loss is being felt in their respective SBUs. Ready-made replacements will not be available and the additional lag phase while the new joinees acclimatize to our company may turn out to be crucial. Our company is involved in time critical projects. A matter of few days can make a huge impact on our bottom-lines.
I am writing to you with the intention of sharing my thoughts with you. I am sure that you are already aware of these "problems" and have taken measures to counter this. Its just that I feel that these efforts are not being showcased properly. Some more work in this direction is warranted in light of the discontent.
Keeping a person on a bond for two years is not the solution to our problem.
Govindraj S. Umarji