Thursday, November 29, 2007

People with Disability - A Neglected Group

Disabled people are the most neglected and the most excluded group in India. Here are a few facts from the recent World Bank Report - People with Disabilities in India :-
  • Children with disabilities are 5 times more likely to be out of school than average
  • Employment of People with Disability(PWD) among large private firms was only 0.3% of the workforce in the late 1990s. Among the multinational companies, it is far worse with only 0.05% being PWD. Remember... this is the situation when at least one in twelve households has a member with disability.
  • 50% of Households still believe the disability to be a "curse of God" resulting in social stigma against PWD
  • Low Educational Attainment, Poor Employment Prospects (Employment rate among PWD fell from 43% in 1991 to 38% in 2002 n the midst of high economic growth) and stigma mean that PWD and their households are notably worse off than average
Sad thing is that even economic growth cannot alter the situation of PWD since economic growth can neither decrease the number of disabled nor provide them with employment prospects.Even simple tasks like traveling or entering a building is quite tough since these group of people are never taken into account while planning or construction. In fact none of the buildings in IIM - Indore are PWD friendly.

It is time we moved from just commitments to outcomes based implementation to bring out a difference in the lives of 40 to 80 million Indians with disability.

"The problem is not how to wipe out the differences but how to unite with the differences intact - Rabindranath Tagore

Thursday, November 22, 2007

Beware of Mumbai Airport Cab Guys

Like your first love, the first time you were conned by some one is always an unforgettable incident. This post is how i was conned at Mumbai. (I thought about writing it on reading Mumbai airport fraud in Vimal's blog.)

"Since I came out of the domestic airport to spend a few minutes with a few friends of mine, I was not allowed by the police officer to board the linking bus from domestic airport to the international airport. (Though at that time, it looked like the police officer was just showing his authority... after the con, i believe he is also a part of the scam gang). Since, it was peak time, the queue for the prepaid cabs was so long, I was forced to bargain with other cabs. One of the cab wallahs came for the lowest price among the lot - Rs. 200/- (which was still unfair). But having lived in Chennai for 4 years, overpaying is always a part of the deal if u want to go to a place fast. So I accepted it. Surprisingly, the car stopped in a dark place after a few minutes of driving and the guy handed me 3 one hundred rupee notes and asked for a single 5 hundred rupee note. When i handed a five hundred rupee note and he returned back the money that was got just 2 days earlier from the bank as torn. I got a little bit tensed. Anyway, knowing that i could get the rupee note changed in the bank, I gave him another five hundred rupee note.

Now he returned a 100 rupee note back saying that I gave him only a 100 rupee note. I sensed a serious scam. And weighed other options - there were 2 hefty guys on the car(Driver + Agent), I don't speak Hindi, my chances of getting a cab from this new place is minimal and most importantly I was already late for my flight(My Negotiation Classes has taught me that I could be easily intimidated). So I was forced to shell out another two hundred rupees. Immediately the driver and the broker got down and another person drove me to the airport. After that the cab wallah dropped me at a place where another airport staff tried to con me another 20$. Thankfully! I was alert by then.

So Beware! If you take a cab from Mumbai airport, always go for the prepaid one however long the queue is.

Also Read:

Chennai Petrol bunk fraud at "Escape Velocity - The most common petrol bunk fraud"

Mumbai Taxi Open Extortion at NDTV Message forums -

Thursday, November 08, 2007

LTTE's increasing support in Tamilnadu

It has been sixteen long years since the youngest person to become the Prime Minister of India was assassinated by a foreign force. In a world that changes every second, that is surely a long time. I was only six during that unfortunate incident. And I don't remember any of the things that happened. What i remember? Regret and Sadness with which my father explained - how one of the most beloved organizations in Tamilnadu became a villain in a single day.

LTTE! You betrayed our trust then! And showed that terrorists can never be trusted! (A lesson Pakistan is learning now!)

Sixteen years is a long enough time to forget our love/lovers... How could anybody wrong a person who has forgotten the incident that happened on May 21, 1991 - a monumental historical tragedy which LTTE deeply regret. Most of us(Indian Tamils) have forgotten and some have forgiven. As seen from the increasing support that LTTE is receiving these days - "JNU Tamil Students term slain Tamil Tigers a martyr". Today LTTE is again becoming a 'Tamil' Movement. M Karunanidhi - the cunning politician is again ready to carry the flag of this great Tamil cause. :(

For those people who wanna support LTTE, please remember
  • Once LTTE had the 'guts' to target a former Prime minister - a representative of our Indian nation, thereby targeting India itself. If it serves its cause, it will do it again, again and again.
  • LTTE is a terrorist organization without any democracy in its ranks
  • It is an organization that cleansed all the other brother organizations to create a monopoly for itself.(if you are fighting for a cause, you partner... you don't murder)
  • An organization if had been given the chance to form its own nation would have started - A Greater Fight for a United Eelam with Tamilnadu(India)
P.S: I am not asking you to stop supporting Srilankan Tamils in their struggle but asking not to support a terrorist organization(LTTE). And I disagree with various activities of Srilankan government too -

Related Post:

Monday, November 05, 2007

"Don't follow Us" - By An American to Indians

When the famous author of "The World Is Flat: A Brief History of the Twenty-first Century" - Thomas L. Friedman asks us(Indians) not to follow the Americans, my interest in his regular weekly column article on New York Times notched up one or two times higher. Read the full article at No, No, No, Don't follow Us. To my surprise, he was using the quote to look at the infrastructure problems that $2500 car by TATA Motors would bring to the limelight. He wants an India that makes itself the leader in both cheap cars and clean mass mobility resulting in an India that will be healthier and wealthier. The article echoes Ms. Sunita Narain who wants the Indian government to tax this cheap car heavily so that a better public transit system could be put in place(Taxing will remove the competitiveness of the whole project in one stroke!!!). He uses the example of Indian mobile industry that innovated to bring one of the world's cheapest telephone system of the world.

But I beg to differ because of the understanding of the mentality of the Indian political system which caters only to the most pressing problem in a efficient manner. Indian Politicians generally choose to innovate or change them self only when they have their backs to the wall [Yeah! Necessity is the mother of the invention] and culturally not known to have a future orientation regarding the present problems.

What I believe?
$2500 car rather than removing the need for a well maintained, efficient, cheap mass transit system would actually become the major turning point that would result in a better mass transit system suited for the Indian people(if the $2500 car became successful as predicted). The impact this car would be having in the rural and semi-urban cities of India like Tirunelveli, Indore, etc.. would be much greater than its impact on the metropolitan cities. And the majority of India lives on this rural and semi-urban cities. $2500 car would make the infrastrucutre shortage in India a comman man's problem from a industry's problem, thus making it a electoral issue, increasing the likelihood of an early solution.

Thomas L Friedman is talking from a narrow perspective of places he has visited like Bangalore, Chennai, Hyderabad, Mumbai, etc. . These cities already have a mass transit system in place(though not a efficient one). And his perspective does not include other places like Indore, Pune, etc.. where mass transit system even if present is negligible and no government can create one in its life time. Expected a better researched article from the author of such calibre. :(

Friday, November 02, 2007

Chennai - The Happening City of India

Only the people who live in Chennai understood the magnificence of the city... But others always complain about auto wallahs, heat, etc. For example even Sajeev keeps on complaining how sad the place is... [If you don't believe in my statement, visit the comments page of Sreeram's recent post 'Of Renaming Places'] While i generally ignore them since i understand the envy of others regarding Chennai. But here is a chance to throw mud at this erstwhile famous "Chennai-bashers" gang. After 3.11 PM of November 11th, you guys wont get the chance to throw foolish remarks like that.

What is happening on 3.11PM on 03/11/07?
A few people are trying to encourage the chennaists to capture that one moment on 3.11PM and upload them to a common pool to freeze the entire city into a frame, in the span of a second.

For more details visit 03:11 PM’.

Why 3:11 PM?
No great significance! Just another wonderful day in the life of chenna-ists...

Thursday, November 01, 2007

Google OpenSocial [Out "fox"ing Competition]

As I wrote in my earlier post - "Google out'open'ing competition in social media" , Google is expected to come out tomorrow with its announcement on "Open Social". On reading the recent press release from Techcrunch - Open Social by Google, the first thing that strikes you is the simplicity of the idea. Realizing the huge advantages that Facebook has - because of being the first entrant and innovator of allowing third party developers to develop APIs in its social networking website, Google has taken the first step of transferring some power to these third party developers to gain their attention and loyalty. [Remember one of the reasons for the Windows' stronghold on OS market was because of the large number of third party developers who bonded them self with Windows] If Google has not taken this decision, most of the third party developers would have sided with Facebook by creating their application only on the Face book Mark Up language and thereby leaving zero probability for the success of orkut. [And who has the time to rewrite the code for another social networking site???].

But now, Google through its framework is trying to avoid that situation by creating a industry standard for others to follow. It is trying to create an industry standard where third party developers use HTML and Javascript to write their social applications(so just one application for all the websites) rather than using a language specific to the website[e.g. Facebook Mark Up language - Facebook]. If a huge number of third party developers joined this framework, Facebook has no other option but joining the industry standard, thereby providing a level-playing field for Google. Also Google would be expecting its drive would garner enough attention for its social networking site - Orkut. Success or Failure of this drive by Google is going to decide the future of Face book.

Update: With Myspace & beebo(largest social networking website in U.K. and Ireland) joining OpenSocial, Facebook is the only one left out. They are having the meeting with Google engineers on friday to decide their stand. [And the only option for them is to join the standard] NY Times article titled - 'Google and Friends to Gang up on Facebook' does not seem too outlandish now...

P.S: After seeing this initiative by Google, it seems as though Microsoft paid too much of money for 1.6% ownership of Facebook.. :(

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