The Jig Saw

Saturday, February 26, 2005

India: The next knowledge superpower's top story on India

There's a revolution afoot in India. Unlike any other developing nation, India is using brainpower rather than cheap physical labour or natural resources to leapfrog into the league of technologically advanced nations. Every high tech company, from Intel to Google, is coming to India to find innovators. Leading the charge is Infosys, the country's first publicly listed billion-dollar IT company.

However, there are dramatic problems of poverty and infrastructure. To transform the nation, Indians will have to change their way of thinking about science and technology, take risks in research, and deal with the issues of education, infrastructure, bureaucracy and corruption.

Indian Broadband

[Via Rajesh Jain] Om Malik makes a point I whole-heartedly agree with: "I find that most Indian companies are offering metered broadband access, treating bandwidth like a scarce commodity. That is a bone headed move only thought up by bureaucrats who are used to playing the scarcity game. Growing up there, getting a phone connection was so hard and often involved baksheesh. That mentality prevails. These boneheads should realize that in order to stay competitive Indians need to have as much speed as they can get for the lowest possible price. Look at Koreans, and Chinese."

I have not seen our bandwidth costs in our business change at all in the past 3 years. I find that hard to accept because supposedly the international and national bandwidth prices are falling all the time. As a business, I need a flat rate for unlimited data transfer -- the cheap plans all come with caps on data transfer. India needs cheap all-you-can-eat broadband if we are going to even have a chance in the digital age. We still don't seem to be learning from our past mistakes -- the digital infrastructure India needs is a not a luxury but a pre-requisite.

India Will become bigger than the US

Time magazine in April 2004, declared Professor Sachs as one of the 100 most influential people in the world. As the Special Advisor to UN Secretary General Kofi Anan on the Millennium Development Goals, he says, "India is poised to become one of the three large economies of the world. By the mid century I think India could overtake US by absolute size."

Click here to read more

Friday, February 25, 2005

HCL Info launches cheapest PC

In little over a year of introducing personal computers, PC, at Rs 14,990 plus taxes, HCL Infosystems has launched another one at Rs 12,990 plus taxes. What is more, you could even buy it in installments of Rs 360 a month. It’s a computer that comes with a 1GHz processor, a 30 MB hard disk, 128 MB RAM, a 15-inch colour monitor and even a 52 x CD ROM drive.

Chowdhry added, "We have a very sincere belief, that in this country the bottom of the pyramid is where the market lies. 70% of India lives in small towns and villages. So, if we don’t create products for them, how will we ever grow the market in a big way?"

Click here to read more

Air-charge mobiles, courtesy IIT-D

[via Financial Express] The specially designed turbine, which cost about Rs 200 to be developed in the lab, is so small that it can be kept in a pocket, said professor Lalit Kumar Das, IIT Delhi.

The primary objective of the device is to extend mobile “connectivity” where there is no electricity. It also saves energy, though not to a significant extent, he said.

The electricity could also be used for other purposes, such as illumination and playing a radio. High intensity light devices (hilds) and radio require low energy to function that could be easily provided by the turbine, he said.

The device is best suited for coastal areas where the wind blows almost continuously. It would help light hilds in areas where there is no electricity, he said.

Click here to read more

Don't multi-task, multi-think instead

Jeffrey Baumgartner writes on Innovation Tools

This simple action does several things at once.

Firstly, It allows you to maintain your focus on the task at hand. By making a note of your thought, you are clearing your mind of the distracting idea. This can only improve your focus on the task at hand.

Secondly, when the action of performing task A inspires an idea relevant to task B, it is very often the case that the idea is a creative one that would not have come to mind had we been focusing on task B. In other words, multi-thinking often inspires creative ideas.

Thirdly, if performing task A provides inspirations for task B, you may come across synergies between the two tasks; synergies which reduce your overall workload ­ and actually improve your productivity. Such synergies are best discovered through multi-thinking. Indeed, when ideas come to mind. Do not simply write them down. Try to draw links between your ideas for task B and task A.

Click here to read more

Thursday, February 24, 2005

Got an old computer laying around? Wanna donate it?

Computer Aid International is an UK registered not-for-profit working to bridge the divide between the developing and the developed world.
Why not make your old computer a valuable educational tool in a school in a developing country?

Click here to donate your PC

WiMax may reach rural areas first

[via zdnet UK] BT may launch WiMax in rural areas ahead of cities following the success of its trials of the high-speed wireless technology.

BT's researchers took WiMax to four remote locations in the UK to test it in the most severe weather conditions over the most testing terrain. Seventy-three percent of wireless broadband users in rural areas expressed 'extreme satisfaction' with the service, although Patel said the results may not reflect the service accurately.

Click here to read more

Beaming Into Your PC from Anywhere

Wildstrom, BusinessWeeks Technology & You columnist writes about 2 new services to access your PC from anywhere -

Two new services, GoToMyPC and LogMeIn, promise simple and secure access to your computer from just about anywhere -- provided, of course, that you leave it on, and online.

Click here to read more

Monday, February 21, 2005

Master Tasking

[via Michaelh Yatt's Working Smart Blog]
“Master Tasking” is the process of identifying your five to seven most productive, most important work-related tasks. A Master Task List is similar to a job description but more useful. It answers the question, “What was I really hired to do?” Here are some characteristics of master tasks:

  • They are usually important but not urgent.
  • They spell the difference between success and failure.
  • You have a hard time getting to them.
  • They are things you usually do on your own.
  • They can be scheduled but usually aren’t.

The purpose of developing a Master Task List is to enable you to focus more easily on those activities that really add value to your department, your division, and your company. Once you have a Master Task List you can measure your performance against it. More importantly, you can schedule these activities so you accomplish the most important tasks related to your job.

President Kalam's Republic Day Speech

India has approximately 2.3 lakh Village Panchayats. I visualize establishment of village knowledge centers in these Panchayats to empower the villagers with the knowledge and to act as a nodal center for knowledge connectivity for the villagers. The knowledge center from which the villagers would access the information through the village information officer can also be used for collection, digital storage and dissemination of village specific information pertaining to any relevant information to the villagers. This will provide direct quality employment to over one million who will be instrumental in promoting higher level of wealth generation in our rural sector.

Click here to read more

Saturday, February 19, 2005

Wi-Fi and Wi-Max: Rural Mexico's Last Train to Development

Digital guru floats sub-$100 PC

[via BBC]
Nicholas Negroponte, chairman and founder of MIT's Media Labs, says he is developing a laptop PC that will go on sale for less than $100 (£53).
He described the device as a stripped down laptop, which would run a Linux-based operating system, "We have to get the display down to below $20, to do this we need to rear project the image rather than using an ordinary flat panel.
"The second trick is to get rid of the fat , if you can skinny it down you can gain speed and the ability to use smaller processors and slower memory."
He plans to be distributing them by the end of 2006 and is already in discussion with the Chinese education ministry who are expected to make a large order.

Click here to read more

Thursday, February 17, 2005

A Problem Shared Is a Problem Solved

On the rise of open source innovation
[via Fast Company]

One new idea is distributed or open source innovation in which customers (or anyone else for that matter) are the co-producers of the products and services they consume.

Open source software development began when one smart individual realized that he wasn't half as smart as all the other people he knew if he put them together.

Recently the idea has been transferred to all manner of projects ranging from an open source encyclopedia called the Wikipedia and collaborative industrial design such as ThinkCycle to open source aeroplane design, cola recipes, film scripts, and beer. The latter was developed with the help of some self-appointed beer aficionados (found on the Internet) who created everything from the name of the beer to its packaging and advertising. Even NASA has embraced the idea by using volunteer scientists (or "clickworkers") to identity and catalog craters on the surface of Mars.

Click here to read more

Obsession with India and the latent potential

It is probally obvious form my blog that I'm gung-ho about the latent potential that India has. Here's something about me - I'm working at IIT Madras on an experiment to outsource work from urban to rural areas. It is something a few people are talking about, many are skeptical about and no one has proved succesfully.

Comments welcome :) Love to argue ...

The next knowledge superpower


Over the past five years alone, more than 100 IT and science-based firms have located R&D labs in India. These are not drudge jobs: high-tech companies are coming to India to find innovators whose ideas will take the world by storm.

High-tech is not the sole preserve of the rich. Fishermen have begun using mobile phones to price their catch before they make port, and autorickshaw drivers carry a phone so that customers can call for a ride. Technology companies are extending internet connections to the remotest locations. Small, renewable electricity generators are appearing in villages, and the government is using home-grown space technology to improve literacy skills and education in far-flung areas.

Click here to read more

Tuesday, February 15, 2005

President's PURA Vision

Knowledge Powered PURA (Providing Urban amenities in Rural Areas)

President of India, APJ Abdul Kalam's vision for rural India -

More than two thirds of our billion population live in the rural parts of India. The vision of transformation to a ‘developed’ India can only be realized if we launch a mega mission for empowering the rural people. My visits to the rural parts of India have confirmed that the problem of rural India depends on the extent of connectivity available there. The connectivity that I refer to would include four components.

Physical connectivity
by providing roads in rural areas, electronic connectivity by providing reliable communication network and knowledge connectivity by establishing more professional institutions and vocational training centers. Schools with best infrastructure and teachers who love teaching, primary health centres, silos for storage of products and markets for promoting cottage industries and business, employment opportunities for artisans are some of the elements of PURA. All this connectivity needs to be done in an integrated way so that economic connectivity will emerge leading to self actuating people and economy.

Such a model of establishing a circular connectivity among the rural village complexes will accelerate rural development process by empowerment. I am sure that removal of poverty will call for Providing Urban amenities in Rural Areas (PURA). The model envisaged is a habitat design that would improve the quality of life in rural places and make special suggestions to remove urban congestion also. Instead of village population coming to urban area, the reverse phenomenon has to take place.

The PURA has to be a business proposition economically viable and managed by entrepreneurs and local people and small scale industrialists, as it involves education, health, power generation, transport and management. Government’s support should be in the form of empowering such management agencies, providing initial economic support and finding the right type of management structure and leaders to manage and maintain.

Click here to read more thoughts

Monday, February 14, 2005

Nasscom chief, Kiran Karnik, reveals the future of IT and BPO in India

NASSCOM President Kiran Karnik on tier two cities and outsourcing ..

"We are optimistic that the industry is now moving out of the big metros. Metros have been good with great source of human resources and we would like the industry to go to smaller towns, which can be an even better source of talent. Infrastructure has to accelerate so as to be ahead of demand."

Click here to read more

Animation BPO beckons India

[via CIOL]
JadooWorks strongly believes that there's tremendous talent in rural areas and the company has gone to places like Mahabalipuram, Tanjore scouting for grid sculptors, painters and other art forms. Having convinced them to take up animation as their career, they provided training to these rural folks numbering around 70 to 80 for six months. "With an intensive training programme they are all now transformed from traditional to digital platforms and producing interesting stuff for the industry," explained Ashish Kulkarni, CEO, JadooWorks.

Click here to read the article

Reverse swing in outsourcing

:) Interesting ain't it?

[via via Asia Times]
Over the past year, thousands of top- and middle-level executives from the United States and the United Kingdom have left their countries to explore job opportunities in India's Wipro, Infosys, Satyam and Tata Consultancy Services, to name a few. This is apart from regular middle- and top-level management positions in multinational companies such as IBM and General Electric that have set up huge operations in India. It is estimated that the number of foreigners working in India in the software and outsourcing industries is mounting rapidly. The Foreign Registrar Office in New Delhi puts it at 50,000, and counting.

Anil Mahajan, executive director of Talent Hunt Private Ltd, said, "Till recently, we were getting regular job queries from expatriate Indians wanting to move back to India. We were taken by surprise when overseas professionals from countries as far as the US, UK and South Africa also started calling us up to enquire about job opportunities here. This has now become a trend."

Click here to read more

Domestic market too opens up for BPOs

Saloni - Can the rural population be trained to service a share of the domestic outsourcing market?

January 29, 2005

The domestic market, which is now opening up, could become a ‘large, full fledged market’ in the next three to five years. “Roughly around 80,000 to one lakh people in the BPO companies serve domestic market currently. In the next five years, over one million jobs will be created just to address the domestic market. Players like BSNL alone require 35,000-40,000 people for customer care,” TG Ramesh, head BPO iGate, said.

HTMT, whose current business from domestic clients is small, expects that the percentage could grow to 5% this year. “Right now, the trend is very small, but down the line, we expect Indian market to contribute to 15-20% of our business.”

BPOs may also try to serve domestic customers through third parties, Mr Nagaraj added.

Click here to read more

Saturday, February 12, 2005

Making business for the poor

Monday Feb 12, 2005

Professor C. N. Prahlad, the University of Michigan Business School, author of the book "The Fortune at the Bottom of the Pyramid-Eradicating Poverty through profits "presented some cases for all innovative approach to convert the poverty into an opportunity for all concerned. He said, what is needed is an approach that involves partnering with the poor to innovate and achieve sustainable win-win scenarios where the poor are actively engaged and, at the same time, the companies providing products and services to them are profitable. The market at the BOP with more than 4 billion people living on less than US $2 per day presents tremendous opportunity for the private sector.

These opportunities can be unleashed if large and small firms, government, civil society organisations, development agencies, and the poor themselves work together with a shared agenda. Large-scale and widespread entrepreneurship is at the heart of the solution to poverty. Prahlad has tried to show that at the top of the pyramid are the wealthy, with numerous opportunities for generating high levels of income. The distribution of wealth and the capacity to generate incomes in the world can be captured in the form of an economic pyramid. The quality, efficacy, potency, and usability of solutions developed for the BOP markets are very attractive for the top of the pyramid.
The traditional MNC approach and the approach suggested by Prahlad here -- top of the pyramid to BOP and from the BOP to the top of the pyramid could work. He presented some successful examples and tried to prove that innovative approaches can "convert the poverty into an opportunity for all concerned", including the poor and the private companies. As per his opinion, we should not be seeing the poor just as the target beneficiaries of development assistance, but as creative entrepreneurs who take initiative, often for the basic survival.

An innovative private sector can find ways to deliver low cost (even sophisticated) goods and services to demanding consumers across all income ranges. It can sell to the urban distressed areas as well as the poor rural villages or towns. Innovation might arise from the focus on the lower quintile market which creates cost advantages from economies of scale, or the firm may have developed distribution links to the end consumer in the village and so are able to better harness knowledge of the actual needs of this segment of the market. Firms might keep costs low through outsourcing, for greater flexibility. The private sector can thus alleviate poverty by contributing to economic growth, empowering the poor by providing them with services and consumer products, increasing choices and reducing the prices. The first creates employment and income growth. The second improves the quality of life for the poor. The greater interaction between those at the bottom of the pyramid and the private sector creates opportunities for direct involvement in the market economy.
With broad recommendations for action developed by the UN Commission on Private Sector and Development (namely: to collaborate and mobilise capabilities of the private sector, to drive innovation and use of IT: to engage in public-private partnerships for sustainable development; and to form ecosystems and build networks of companies), it said these should be translated into concrete actionable initiatives at the country and regional levels. Some potential ideas like women entrepreneurship development; pro-small entrepreneur reforms; kiosks/one stop shops for registration; single business permit; alternative dispute resolution; automated assignment of cases; specialised debt collection courts; collateralising real estate assets; business plan competition; in-country monitoring; ISO certification support; hands-on educational programmes; and microinsurance schemes etc. are also helpful as recommended by the report.

Efforts to design innovative project initiatives should, however, go further and beyond what has worked successfully to-date in terms of SME development and promotion of micro-enterprises. There is an immense opportunity to maximise the use of the private sector market-based forces to fight poverty at the BOP. In the light of the above, a potential role of UNDP could be in providing market intelligence to identify profitable initiative that help satisfy the needs of the poor while paying by the rules of the market. UNDP may help Bangladesh by taking specific role which will in turn would help developing SMEs. SME representative organisation can take lessons from the report of the commission on how to integrate large companies with SMEs through well defined ecosystem to make market for the poor and help them sustain the market.

Thursday, February 10, 2005

Govt to BPO firms: Go for towns, villages


IT ministry on Tuesday asked BPO companies to move back offices to smaller cities and expand into rural India.

IT secretary Brijesh Kumar said India continues to be attractive destination for outsourcing and the challenge before the industry is to train skilled manpower and rapidly grow in tier-3 towns.

Click here to read more

Wednesday, February 09, 2005

Respect the rural

[via Financial Express] Invest in alternatives to sustain economic growth

Wednesday, February 09, 2005

Points to ponder on -
- Despite a plethora of incentives, the rural economy has been unable to unshackle itself. Blame that on inefficiency or inertia or leakages.

- Recall that over a third of rural households have non-agricultural occupations, an important sign for the future—as the ratio increases, the cyclical nature of agriculture may have lesser impact on rural incomes. On the upside, there are immense opportunities waiting in the wings.

- Rural-to-urban migration is a huge socio-economic problem for us.

Click here to read more

Homeshoring: Tech jobs in mid-size America

[via zdnet]'s Ed Frauenheim reports that Bangalore, Shanghai and Singapore--as well as Silicon Valley--have new competition from smaller cities and rural areas of the United States...

A chief reason technology companies are turning to midsize cities and rural areas in the United States is their lower-wage work force. Employees there can be paid less than in today's tech hubs, largely because the cost of living is much lower. For instance, a $400,000 home in Boston would cost about $69,000 in Oklahoma City, according to Coldwell Banker Real Estate. The cost of living in Twin Falls is 33 percent lower than in San Jose, Calif.--the heart of Silicon Valley.

Click here to read more

Things to think about - Can tomorrow the competition be smaller cities and rural areas of India? Is there a a little-noticed talent pool that remians untapped? Can homeshoring be explored? Isn't that the new name for domestic outsourcing?

Tuesday, February 08, 2005

Nasscom '05: Rural India calling

Tuesday Feb 8, 2005

MUMBAI: Addressing the inaugural session of Nasscom 2005, IT Minister Dayanidhi Maran and Chief Minister of Maharashtra, VilasRao Deshmukh appealed all IT companies to make IT viable for the masses, especially in rural areas. Nasscom 2005: India Leadership Forum, kick-started in Mumbai on February 8, 2005.

In his keynote, Maran said that there is a need to invest in IT education at the grass root level. "Taking IT to the masses should bridge digital divide and since India is a multi lingual country, software companies need to make cost-effective applications in different Indian languages," he added.

"There are still a host of areas that require our undivided attention, major pieces in the ICT industry puzzle that need to fit in and a significant number of market segments where our industry still needs to stake a claim and strengthen its credentials," he further added.

Maran also said that, Internet penetration needs to grow by leaps and bounds. Currently, Internet growth in India is limited by low PC penetration, which in turn is inhibited by the high prices of computer hardware. The government is working closely with the industry to ensure that PC costs come down rapidly and Internet access devices are within the reach of the ordinary citizen.

Deshmukh insisted that the state IT policy is being revised to boost infrastructure and all the hotspots including airport would soon be well equipped to cater needs to all the visitors coming and investing in Maharashtra.

Earlier addressing the gathering, Nasscom chairman Jerry Rao apart from his wish list, asked for better infrastructure which has always been a major cause for concern among IT and ITES companies.

IIIT all set to launch low cost PC

Tuesday Feb 8, 2005

Pune-based International Institute of Information Technology (IIIT) has developed a low-cost personal computer - Nicetop - costing around Rs 10,000 for use in rural India and expects to launch it in the next two-three months.

Nicetop has a 32 bit processor, 64 MB RAM, hi-color monitor and is embedded with Linux OS. It comes with an embedded client and a thin client, with many thin clients connected to a fat client (embedded client), said Sunil Patil, IIIT Dean (Academics and International Relations) . The product would enable farmers to access weather bulletins, primary healthcare data, information on agriculture and prices of commodities in various markets, he added.

Click here to read more

Friday, February 04, 2005

Tattoo Auction of Animal Rights Activist Ended

Insanity rules!! Reminds me of Saki's The Fall of Icarus, a satire about Henri Deplis, commercial
traveller and his tattoo.

Wednesday Feb 2, 2004

LONDON (Reuters) - A plan by an animal rights activist to sell-off a lizard tattoo on her right arm came unstuck Tuesday when the online auction house she was using pulled the plug on electronic bidding.

eBay UK removed "Lizard Skin," an auction offered by Ingrid Newkirk, the British founder of People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) because her ad breached guidelines.

PETA, the world's biggest animal rights group, said eBay regarded the tattoo as "human remains" which contravened the company's policy to not allow auctions of human body parts.

Newkirk said in a statement she was unimpressed by the move:

"I am just another animal, these are animal remains," she said.

"You can't miss the irony when it is acceptable to steal skins from their original owners and auction them off, but forbidden to auction a person's voluntarily offered skin to be surrendered only upon her death."

Billed as "waterproof and weathered" and "suitable for making into a wallet or watch strap," the tattoo was offered to draw attention to the plight suffered by skinned animals.

Proceeds had been due to go to charity.

Thursday, February 03, 2005

Rural areas are big business, Baijal tells telecom firms

Thursday Feb 3, 2005

"Telecom service providers have to stop seeing the rural areas as a non-viable area. The market in rural areas is two and a half times bigger than urban areas," said Baijal, citing the example of how companies that recognised this potential had benefited.

He urged Bharat Sanchar Nigam Ltd (BSNL) to share its infrastructure with other operators on a commercial basis as no other service provider barring the state-owned company had the requisite fibre optic connectivity in rural areas.

BSNL has 30,000 exchanges in villages connected by fibre optics and is providing telecom services in 515,000 villages.

Baijal welcomed the Government's decision to increase the foreign investment cap in telecom service providers from 49 to 74 per cent. "This would help meet the large investments required to boost infrastructure," he said.

The telecom sector estimates a need of around Rs 1-1.5 trillion ($23-$34 billion) to match the growth in China and achieve the target of 200 million telephone connections.

Read the complete story here