Net Neutrality!

Is Net Neutrality the way?

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Net neutrality is the principle that Internet service providers must treat all data on the Internet the same, and not discriminate or charge differently by user, content, website, platform, application, type of attached equipment, or method of communication. For instance, under these principles, internet service providers are unable to intentionally block, slow down or charge money for specific websites and online content.

 For example, imagine someone using a paid service from a website, regularly. That person does a lot of purchases on the site. If there is no net neutrality, the service provider will have the authority, in connivance with the web site, to allow faster access to large customers! It is like mother giving additional cookie to favourite child! In certain cases, they may block access to you! To avoid such situation Net Neutrality is essential.

Discussion on this subject has started recently in the US. Internet was born with Neutrality and US government under Trump for their own reasons want to end Net Neutrality. Main thing is that nobody “owns” internet! Internet is a service created by scientists which has changed the world beyond imagination. It is a rare service which is independent of language, nation, cast and creed!

A couple of years back Facebook tried to bypass Net Neutrality with a concept called Free Basics, in India. They said after arrangement with some service providers, if a user has fully used his usage limit, he will still be allowed use of Facebook. This is the first step away from Net Neutrality. If this were allowed, then service providers would have made their own rules slowly and allowed access as was beneficial to them. Government of India came down heavily on them and stopped free Basic from rolling out.

Today there is a news that in the USA, that FCC has repealed all the laws set by Obama administration to keep Net Neutrality. Is this the beginning of war on the net? Does it mean that there will be rich man’s internet and poor man’s internet? Does this mean that if you pay more fees then you will be able to sit in the first-class lounge?

People who are for non-neutrality argue differently. They claim that they will provide basic services to all in the same way; however, those who pay more money will get services even if their package has been used up. But what about those who already have unlimited package? Will the speed remain same for them beyond “fair” usage? Will they get lesser priority beyond a certain limit? Who will decide fair usage? Once the discrimination is allowed then it will be impossible for anyone to track what certain sites do or what certain service providers do? Agencies cannot track these misdemeanors.

In Portugal, something similar is already happening. Even though they are under EU laws, each country has its own bit of freedom. Portugal is allowing their ISP’s to play around a bit. Large ISPs have given every indication that the idea of freedom costing extra isn’t too far from their ideal. And abusing a lack of broadband competition to force users to shell out additional funds to access to the content and services of their choice isn’t too far off of what has already happened;  AT&T had decided to block Facetime from working unless users shelled out for more expensive plans, or Verizon’s had decided to charge users $10 more just to avoid arbitrary video throttling. This is going to happen! 

All these years internet is being treated on par with Electricity, Water usage. For using these services, one did not have to do anything special. If you used more electricity or water, you paid more. These utilities never say, we will give you xxx units only. You pay more then only you get additional usage. Or since you are not our priority customer, water pressure will be low at your end.

I feel that jury is still out. But with USA formally declaring internet as “Non-Neutral”, we will know the real meaning of the same over a period. Portugal has done it, but they have done it in a small way and discretely. There is another argument for “Non-Neutral” internet; the proponents of this are saying that there will be large investments in internet technology because of new policy. According to them there are “serious” users and “non-serious” users. Majority are of the second variety. For them probably internet will continue to be available as it is available today. Serious users may not mind paying a little more for additional, better, faster and un-restricted services. On the other side Netflix has already shown how people love to use it. So they already have an upper hand on the ISP’s!

Friends, I am non-serious user of internet. Will it really matter to me about net neutrality? Honestly, I do not know and only time can tell. New internet order has just started today, formally. So let’s wait and observe.

Multitasking! Boon or bane

100% social media free time is very important in any relationship!

I have been reading that all the successful people are expert multitaskers. They have many habits that allow them to handle multiple tasks simultaneously. This makes them more efficient and performance oriented. But I read an article today which started some thought processes in my mind. Multitasking of current days includes checking WhatsApp, Facebook, Instagram, during working hours. The article even says that this multitasking is affecting the GDP of the nations. People are wasting to 1 to 1 ½ hour from their working time on WA/FB/INST. Initially, I doubted these figures either way. I thought these figures could be larger  or smaller. In large organizations the sites like FB/Instagram are blocked and hence cannot be accessed. But with large numbers using Smartphones one does not really need Computers to access these sites. In some organizations, people from a department are spread all over the country and they are travelling. They form WhatsApp groups and officially use them for keeping in touch with each other. My experience these days is that I get fastest response for my WhatsApp messages in comparison with any other mode of business communication!

The figure of 1 to 1 ½ hour is not the actual time spent but when your thought processes are broken while working, by using social media, people lose the link. So, getting back to groove plus actually checking social media may add to this figure of 1 to 1 ½ hour! This is a real menace and the society at large will have to find a solution. People use their cell phones for work, so banning them at work is not possible. Organizations can say that if you are using company phone then use it for work. How do you keep track if one has used WA for official purpose or personal needs? People will simply use dual SIM card cell phones and have WA on personal SIM!  Enough of work related complications but what about personal life and social media?

There is story of a young couple, very much in love, they got engaged to be married. Next day they went for cup of coffee in a Bistro! Instead of looking into each other’s eyes, they were looking at the screens of their own cell phones! If you don’t have the urge to look into each other’s eyes at this stage, when will you do it? With the new gadgets and newer media our lives have become different. Is multitasking really important at home? Can we not live without it? To some extent it is essential, but I feel that we are going overboard. The other day my grand daughter Rhea, all of four years old, was doing some painting, she loves it let me assure you! While painting she was humming an old Kishore kumar song, “Ye Ratein, Ye Mausam nadika kinara!” (The choice of song is again a surprise, courtesy her Mumma!)  Jaya was sitting by her, just attending to her! Maybe she was skimming through a newspaper, nothing more serious! Suddenly there was a ding on Jaya’s cell phone and she had received an e mail. She quickly read it and was thinking of the reply! Immediately Rhea said, “Aaji will you look at cell phone later? Can you help me do the painting better?” Rhea was doing perfectly all right in her painting but she realized that Jaya’s mind was a bit distracted. She did not like it. A child can put her demand bluntly but as we grow older we become more courteous and don’t demand full attention.

Same things happen in husband and wife relationship too! Can’t they give each other 100% distraction free attention for some time during the day? Same things can happen with friends too, for that matter in any relationship. We tend to give gadgets and social media more importance than the person. This type of distraction leads to different consequences in different relationships. I remember ages back, I was called by Managing Director of company for business discussions. I reached on time was ushered in his cabin. In a few minutes we were both served piping hot coffee and boss was speaking on his cell phone, very important stuff about his Rotary Club activities. He finished his call in 15 minutes. Before he could apologize to me, (I was naïve and thought that he would apologize!) the phone rang again and another 15-minute call discussing more socially important things. When the third phone call started after one-minute break, I signaled to him that I wanted to use the washroom. I walked out of his cabin and sat in my car to drive back to my office. Half an hour later his secretary called just as I was settling down in my office chair. Probably after two more rounds of calls, our friend realized that I had left. I had taken a decision to stop doing business with them and managed to do it smoothly within six months.

We can take such decisions in business, at least sometimes! But what can we do in personal life, with spouse, with friends, with relatives. One cannot take divorce, one cannot break long friendships! So how do we find the golden mean? The children are usually open as well as blunt. This was displayed by Rhea’s telling Jaya to pay attention to her. What she expected of Jaya is an opening of “Trust Fund” so large that there never will be any deficit. I have used the Simile between the “Trust Fund” and “Trust” she expected from Jaya. Apparently, it is such a small demand, but we have made things difficult for ourselves. We don’t give “100% free time” to each other! We keep on doing so called multitasking of looking for stuff on social media! While on my way  to office there are always some people who stop side by side at traffic signals. The moment they stop, they take out their cell phones and start looking at WA/FB/Inst. There are about four signals on the way, each taking about ¾ minutes to reach. What important messages keep on coming every ¾ minutes? Can’t messages wait till you reach your destination? A person may have something very important going but how almost all must see their cell phones at each signal? Driving carefully in traffic is important, cell phone causes a distraction.

Friends I strongly suggest that today’s social media attack is like a terrorist situation. We cannot stop the real terrorist attack, but we can always avoid social media attack by initially reducing and then trying eliminating trust deficit that gets created in relationships. Why not think of giving blank signed cheque in the relationship which is indicative of 100 % attention? Rhea’s of this world will tell you on your face that you are not attentive but others will not!

1949 or 1979? 

Nostalgia of 50’s and 60’s!

I am trying a different format of blog which I may repeat if both you folks and I find it comfortable!

I thought why not ask a question to myself in the form of Vikram Vetal story! Vikram, the King is Pramod and Vetal, the spirit is replaced by new entity, “Internet Genie”! (called Genie)

                                                            InternetGenie

Pramod somehow caught hold of Genie, managed to make Genie run at the high speed that was expected of him. Genie as usual started narrating a story. He started with a question, “If you were given a choice, will you be born again in 1949 or 1979, which year will you prefer?” Pramod knew that if he uttered a word, Genie would slip out of his control and system will hang! So Pramod did not give any reply to the question asked.

 As usual, Genie kept on talking. Pramod now that you are in Golden period of your life, you will be a good judge to say if you would rather be born in 1979! Person born in 1979 will not be able to judge if his birth should have been in 1949. You have seen a much simpler world, almost on the verge of being naïve. Cities were smaller, life was simpler but then there was nothing to do in the evening except news at 7 pm and 8 pm on the radio! While you were in school/college there were shortages, incomes were low, and eating an apple was considered a luxury! Ultimate aim in those days was to have your own bicycle.

Had you been born in 1979, as you ended school and entered college, you would have had colour tv, the rationing was almost gone, availability of everything had improved. Eating out in big restaurants with parents would have been a thing to look forward to. Maybe some parents had cars! Sachin Tendulkar had started playing for India, MS DOS, PC, web, these words were discussed. Maruti had already won the heart of Indians but die-hard Ambassador fans were still looking Maruti down!

You were of course very busy managing careers, family, children and trying to attend to the general responsibilities of life, so time had been at a premium. Before you realized that you were around 50 your son had moved to the US. Your daughter had already decided to join dentistry. But you guys could find some time for your children, supporting their extra-curricular activities when they were younger. Already 500 MB hard discs were fitted on pc’s.

Make a jump to 2017, you are now around 70 but you could have been around 40 had you been born in 1979! Now the real tussle has started in your mind. Is 70 or 40 good age to be in 2017! At your present age of 70, you would have been an also ran if you had not retrained yourself in IT related technology. Techno phobia would have really pulled you back but those who have retrained are having fun. Cell phones, tablets, Facebook, WhatsApp, YouTube are fun things and there is no time restriction. There are no parents to give lectures. You can give a lot time to your grandchildren on equal footing, with modern gadgets, which you did not have when your children were growing, and really enjoy.  Your fun quotient is very high because you have traveled in a bullock cart as well as in Boeing Dreamliner 787!

If you were to be born in1979, at around the age of 40, you would be very,  very busy! You would have grown with all the new technology around you. But not enough time available, all the time work, work and work. Working life in 2017 being very hectic, you would have had everything except time! You have never traveled in the bullock cart so conceptually  not many big changes for you; your fun quotient would not have been really significant! Your children are still young. You have to take them to gymnastics, judo, art class, dance class and so on. So, time available is further cut down. You would have jokingly said, ” Now I have regular day job and run taxi service to take kids around after coming home!”

Pramod I can see you smiling and coming up with an argument. I know what you are going to say. In 50’s/60’s you saw Waheeda & Devanand from 20 feet distance, shooting for a movie!  You met Mukri, Ashok Saraf on a train while coming from Bombay once. You also met Bapu Nadkarni test cricket all-rounder in a train journey to Bombay, another time. In your 79 avatar such events would be only in dreams! Celebrities and hero/heroines are humans like us but human touch is getting lost for this generation because of changing times or is it because human touch is out of fashion?

Pramod went into nostalgia when he heard Genie talking about Waheeda! He forgot the golden rule and said,” Genie you will never understand the naïve 60’s but those were the days! I am good to be born in 1949 enjoying best of the both worlds!”

With this statement Pramod broke the golden rule of silence that Genie had locked him in.  At that instant Genie slipped out of Pramod’s grasp, Genie’s speed became equivalent of 2 G and system hung!  Genie could not help but make a passing remark before escaping. “But Pramod whatever you may, I know that Virat Kohli, Priyanka Chopda and Ranbir Singh are your current favourites, though you are not openly accepting!”

Pet the Whale!

Look for the real things in life and try to enjoy THE moment!

When I heard Joel Sartore say, “Pet the Whale”, while giving a lecture on whales photography, I honestly did not understand the meaning of the line. Meaning of Pet is “stroke or pat (an animal) affectionately”. But when he explained it, I understood the real meaning of the same. In fact I understood the meaning of life in that one sentence. He is an expert photographer with many contributions in magazines like National Geographic! His job and profession is to take photographs. He was explaining about an expedition where other people were also there. These people were on the expedition to see the whales from close quarters! Sartore continued with his job of taking photographs. Others also started taking videos, photos of the whales. When they came back to the shore, our friend asked the whale watchers, “Did you pet the whale?” All said,” No, we were busy taking photos and videos!” This is where they lost the plot. They had gone to watch whales from close quarters, and even to touch the whales if they came close enough. Whales did come near the boat where people could have patted or touched the whales. That was once in a lifetime opportunity. Our friends kept themselves busy taking photos and videos, and lost a great opportunity!

Many times we take such approach to life. Instead of absorbing the particular moment of enjoyment or glory, we tend to do things which could have been done later or need not have been done. Whale watching group had a golden opportunity to see the whales from close quarters and maybe even pet the whale, touch the whale. But they lost such a great opportunity in view of the posterity, to have photos and videos! We sometimes miss out in judging what is more valuable.

In another incident  Sartore and his wife had decided that they will share the experience of their first child’s birth. He was in the labour room for the event but photographer in him took precedence. Instead of sharing the experience, with doctor’s permission he started clicking away. At the end of the event he rethought the whole thing. The great joy of sharing the experience of the birth of the child was lost! For their second child he took only one photo of the new child!

Our engineering college had a boat club. One of our friends was so competitive that his thoughts were always about racing and beating everyone, whichever boat he used. Competitive spirit is good but there are other joys of boating, singing, doing picnics or taking girls for moonlight boating! The atmosphere at the boat club was fantastic but our friend could never enjoy and soak himself in the atmosphere! 

With advent of technology we have formed groups of friends from alumni, office, colony and others on WhatsApp. The idea of these groups is to share with each other some interesting things and exchange views and ideas. But this never happens and most cases the plot is lost to  forwards that are sent. These forwards are on all the subjects in the world from magical remedies to cure cancer, how our ancestors had more knowledge than google and recipes for saving India from bad old enemies. The basic idea is that from our houses, where ever they are, we should be able to chat instead of face to face discussion. But where have we reached? If used well this tool could be really fun but… 

With the advent of camera in cell phones in last 10 years, people have lost the urge of enjoying life in the conventional sense! When young or old people go for holidays, for parties, for picnics, main thing they want to do is take photos or selfies instead of soaking themselves in whatever they are doing! Selfie shooting has turned into a dangerous game because people get so much involved, that some have fallen to death in the sea or from the mountains. Why has this happened? What is the big deal in selfies? The idea of soaking into atmosphere is becoming foreign to people. Their need to share on WhatsApp and Facebook whatever they are doing, is much stronger than the real enjoyment! 

What is the solution? When we go out for food, enjoy the food and ambience and people. When lovers meet don’t look into own cell phone screens! Life is beautiful  if you look into each other’s eyes. When you go for a walk, listen to chirping of birds and watch Sun rising from behind the hills. The headphones in your ears block this chirping! While talking on phone during morning walk, you will miss out on Sunrise! Last two years, I have been lucky. First heavy showers of the monsoon came during my morning walk. I literally soaked in the rain, no pun intended! I saw a few young people trying to stand in the shade or using an umbrella! They missed out on life’s small but important pleasures. Folks, do the things  like enjoying the picnic, dancing in the disco, meeting old friends! For such joys of the life the whole path you travel is important not something that you catch up in the camera!   

 

 

Your Old Age friend is PQ!

Positive Quotient Your Old Age Friend!

In our literature we are always taught to handle old age gracefully and accept it as fait accompli! But thinking is changing now! 

In his New York Times bestseller Positive Intelligence, Shirzad Chamine explains: “Your mind is your best friend, but it is also your worst enemy. मन चिंती ते वैरी न चिंती Your Positive Intelligence Quotient is the percentage of time your mind is serving you as opposed to sabotaging you. Your PQ indicates how much mastery you have over your own mind.”

Humans is the only race in our Universe that uses brain to think, discuss and change things on the fly on various subjects. Other species think only about the basics of life based on fight or flight syndrome. We really don’t know how much thinking other species do except maybe Monkeys. We humans have so many different thoughts, we over analyze and end up with apprehensions. Even about 100 years back life expectancy was very low. So humans when they died, or were about to die, their health was much better till they got their final calling! In today’s times since life expectancy has gone up, there can be a phase long years in our lives, when our health will not be in best of the condition and it will be on taper off mode for quite a period of time. This long period of deteriorating health, has its own issues and that need to be tackled.

Our literature has been talking of four stages of life ending with Vanaprasthashram. This last phase was more of a theoretical phase because majority population never lived that long! This phase was glorified almost into sainthood with people expected to perform saintly things, all the time. Even 50 to 60 years back there was nothing much to do in life, so people in this phase of life would be saints. Things have changed rapidly in last twenty years or so. Much larger retired population in India is alive and kicking, though a bit slowly, even after retirement. People of our parents’ generation passed within 3 to 5 years of retirement, if not before. Now sizable population is retired and mostly not doing anything specific, post retirement, this will keep on increasing. This is a classic recipe for different sets of problems which previously hardly existed. According to Sarah Alexander, “Our brains are hard wired for negativity; this goes back to our Stone Age ancestors, who needed to be cautious all the time from attack. Attack from dangerous animals, imminent bad weather or threats from other tribes”. When certain problems are recent for a human race, there is nothing right or wrong about any decision, it is trying out new things. In foreign countries there is concept of down-sizing in old age. Beyond a certain age people sell off their larger dwellings and move to manageable ones, preferably in a common community. Or they move to old people’s homes. We need to find our path.

Large population of retirees, children are migrating to different parts of the country and the world, families are becoming more nuclear and everybody including retirees are looking for their own space, has created a scenario which hardly existed in our parents’ generation. What we are looking at is a totally new set of issues which have never been handled before hence both our generation and our children’s generation are groping to understand the situation and hoping to resolve the issues.

What could be the issues for our generation?

  •   When we retired we hardly thought about the changes that were going to happen in next decade; we were euphoric that we are going to retire.
  •     Once some health issues started coming up apprehensions were round the corner; some have chronic issues, some are having serious issues and lucky ones passed away quickly!
  •      Once these issue crop up, the mind will start thinking of different scenarios
  •   Who will support us mentally in case of more serious health issues morally and in some case monetarily!
  •   Will the money saved last longer or we will last longer?
  •   What will happen to my assets after me?
  • What happens to me if my spouse goes before me? It is historically proven that women handle spouse’s death much better than men.
  •   Who do I talk with as I am feeling down or maybe depressed. Every time a doctor is not the solution and maybe not needed!
  •   Who do I take advice on family matters?
  •   What do I do the whole day? Facebook, TV and WhatsApp can’t be your partners all the time.
  •   I don’t like to read or write, what should I do?
  • There will be many more such points, issues, doubts and apprehensions will crop up. The beauty is we don’t know for how long we have to handle these issues.
  • Do I down size or move to old people’s homes?

How to handle such situations and issues?

First and foremost is to group the issues that we are likely to face.

1.       Physical and Mental Health       

2.       Financial matters

3.       Family matters

4.       Specific situational matters which can be combination of various things.

5.       Legal issues

6.       Travel and enjoyment related points.

There can be many many more points but these can always be grouped and sub grouped.

Here is what we could do.

·       Create small group of friends, 4 to 6 in numbers, if possible living close by. This group should be such that you can share with this group anything and everything. The reason for living close by is reaching them should be physically easy.

·       We all are part of different groups of friends these days helped by technology. FB and WhatsApp has made it easy to be in touch with different groups, alumni associations and so on. Out of the various groups, decide which group gives you the most comfort, it could be school group, college group, office group or colony group. This one group should be your parent group. One should look for homogeneity in the group because diverse group will have people with diverse requirements.

·       It is not necessary that for above mentioned issues, you have always to go to a professional e.g. for minor feeling down or depressed, just talking to friends may resolve issues.

·       In the group, there are always people who are smart in many areas and are practical too! Form a core group or groups of say three people with whom ALL group members can discuss their problems or issues and try to thrash them out. Once the system stabilizes keep total faith because group members have no commercial interests in any interactions and they are here to help you.

·       There should be group mail available for the group and core group will lead and guide friends during issues on a regular basis!

To conclude this basic thought process, form  groups, have core sub group of smart people who will guide to find and create resolutions. Keep this process going on daily basis, or at least weekly basis, if it is possible! Group should meet physically at least once in a month.

To conclude, it is most important to be very practical, be away from emotions which will drain you. In our literature we have enough sob stories of “Sham chi Aai” and Shravan Bal! ( These according to me are highly emotional sob stories! Jury is still out on that opinion) These will drain you daily and keep you miserable. This is not your individual situation but is happening universally! So stay away from Shravan Bal and negative thinking individuals to convert Vanaprsthashram into a stage which can be made enjoyable!

New .com bubble!

Startups, Venture funding and profitability go hand and hand else you have a failure on hand!

My friend Nandu Pradhan sent me a message if I have opened a blog tap! The fact of the matter is that I am on a bit of a sabbatical for a week or ten days. Thoughts keep on coming in the mind and somehow I am able to reach the end line pretty quickly.

I read an article about venture funding this morning. It said that venture fund taps seem to be shutting down, albeit slowly, at least in India. I don’t understand much about venture funding but I am told that this funding is given to start ups with brilliant ideas; then there is second and third round of funding as the idea tries to bloom into business. One term that goes hand in hand is “burn rate” while discussing startups. Burn rate is the money spent every month, without doing any business at least in the beginning.

Most of my life I have been running a small business and during this period, barring a few years, I never needed outside funds! Of course, those loans were in the form of bank facilities. I paid outrageous interest charges on the bank funds. At some stage, I decided that enough is enough and returned all the bank funds. Idea behind running my business was simple, it was my job, and it earned me a living! So idea was to keep on making money from whatever activities I was doing!

Don’t get me wrong but I honestly do not understand this concept of venture funding and startups. All can’t be Microsoft, Apple, Facebook and Googles of this world. These are some of the names that come to mind when we talk of starting up in garage and so on! Don’t forget that people behind them were brilliant people. They may not have had the best of the ideas to start with. Apple took 20 plus years to really hit it. Microsoft initially had a tough time but the idea of MS-DOS is what really took off! These guys had different business models. Microsoft has been making software products and are now also in cloud computing, in a big way! Microsoft’s obituary has been written a few times but lately they have become extremely agile to customer requirements. I need not write about Apple; once the iPod became a hit, rest as they say is history. They have real world hardware that they are selling at very high margins. Google made a brilliant search engine and the advertisements on the engine are their bread and butter; they hardly have anything else that is earning money. Facebook was pioneer in social media and have taken up Google business model but this forms 80% of their income. They have about 20% of their income from other sources. What I am trying to imply is that they are all real profit making companies and balance sheets have been in black, most of the times. They all have hard cash.

Coming back to start ups. I am sure that there is a genius lurking behind all these startups that we keep on hearing. Mr. Mukesh Ambani recently made a statement that Jio is a startup! I think what he meant by that is Jio is thinking out of box, its agile, its is taking business behemoths in the same field head on but of course there is a business plan which will make it profitable sooner than later!

I am naming two large e commerce giants in India, Flipkart and Amazon.  Amazon is doing billions of dollars of turnover world over but I understand that even after 20 years their E commerce business is not in profit! So they keep on pumping money. Because of market capitalization Bezos of this world have become billionaires. So must be Flipkart honchos. What is their business model? To my understanding this is trading business as these two companies’ sale products themselves or through their partners; they do not manufacture a single product. How come their burn rate is much more than their income? I feel that it is because of the discount war they keep on playing to gain territory It is a good thing that they do not take loans from banks; otherwise list of bank NPA’s will grow longer! Loss figures March 2016 Amazon Rs.3572/ crore, Flipkart Rs.2850/ crores, Paytm total loss Rs.7971/ crores! Not bad! Profits can always wait! (Ref. Economic Times dated 24th Sept 2017)

If the organization is not making money then what is the point in doing business? With the taps of funds being slowly turned off, the startups are thinking, in terms of operating profits! Real profits are miles away! I am not sure about operating profits too! I am surprised about both sides. Those running business are not really bothered about profits and the funding guys are hoping that one of their clients will become a Microsoft or a Google and then they will get windfall! I am sure the funding guys are very very smart people and they are pumping only part of their billions as investment in startups! But what about startups which are very small or medium size? Or do the promoters also make their money, on the side, from the “burn”? If there is no profit then how do you sustain? What do you achieve by having a high “burn rate”? Is the business model right? Do these guys have enough maturity? They must be real smart technically but running a business is different ball game! An idea, a great presentation, business plan (which always look lovely on paper) get them funding. But how long can the operations sustain on funding? Should the business not be self-sustaining? Is it easy to convert a brilliant idea into a self-sustaining business? There are many so called brilliant ideas, on paper; they face different hurdles, when they come into business domain.

Coming back to my lack of knowledge, I feel that business is a business is a business! The aim should be to make it profitable, of course not at any cost! One has to follow business ethics. When you get funding you don’t have to pay interest on funding that you get though you actually borrow it!  Funding is a cool name for this borrowing! One is really lucky that this is interest free loan. That most startups fail, is to me, an indication that most ideas don’t get converted to profitable business.

I will give you an example of a “startup”. This was not a startup in the conventional way. This person’s business and products were not hi fi type but products made for farmers and used in farming. Of course it was not cool! He was mentored by my wife Jaya. Jaya happens to be on cool side of life i.e Computers, IT and all. What she found was that the person was brilliant and knew his subject and had good products. He was trying to make too many products on laboratory scale for different produce. After a few meetings Jaya asked him, “What is the USP of your products? Which is your best product?” He said, “My products will give immediate results with very high returns in Pomegranates!” Jaya told him to concentrate only on that. He did it and rest as they say is history. Now he is a reasonably successful businessman. He received recognition from United Nations and business wise he is doing pretty alright! Mind you, he took funding but only after his business had grown reasonably well and was very much in black! Writing this story probably has answered the questions which I raised in the beginning! So startups and venture funding is good provided you have good profitable products and a profit making business plan; otherwise you have to be Amazon or Flipkart or Paytm! To hell with losses! There are enough people who will fund you, if you are large enough!

Gauri Lankesh- an Enigma!

Gauri Lankesh was killed by assassin’s bullets outside her home in Bangalore. This happened on 5th of September 2017 in the evening around 7 pm. The shooters escaped on a two wheeler and are yet to be traced. Now information is coming that murder weapon used in Kalburgi case is same as used to kill Gauri. Possibly, except the identity of the murderers, everything is supposedly known to the authorities.

Murder in any form, any reason just cannot be glorified or justified, it has to be strongly condemned! But this murder has evoked such strong reactions, both for or against, that it has become a Tamasha on the social media. People are outright cursing Gauri to glorifying her! Karnataka govt even gave her Gun Salute at her burial! That too to an open supporter of Naxalite movement. There have been stories floating around that she was born Christian, (hence the Hindu basher)  later converted hence the burial. Simple explanation is she was a Lingayat and Lingayat’s bury their dead!

Why do such extreme reactions occur? Is it because of Gauri’ nature? Is it because of her passion? Was it because she called ilks of the type Shehla Rashid, Kanhaiya, Umar Khalid her adopted children? One thing was sure that she was extreme left of center in the political milieu. When there are extreme reactions truth is generally at the center but in case of Gauri we can say that truth was also left of center!

Is it possible that the persons like Gauri start with a cause in great zeal, then they become over passionate, or zealots? Over a period probably they lose contact with reality and are in their own world! I always have many questions about lives of such people. When they are so busy with causes, what do they do make ends meet? I have not read anywhere that Gauri was born in a super-rich family. She ran a regional Kannada paper Gauri Lankesh Patrike which was born after a bitter fight with her own brother about original regional paper Lankesh Patrike, ran by her father. I am sure their income must have been less than that supplements of major newspapers. Were the cases filed against her paper and Gauri for defamation, an income stream? I hope not.

On the other side, who wanted her dead? By killing her what was achieved? Was it a khap panchayat type of decision, where “Supremos” of some group, having totally different views than Gauri, just decided to eliminate her! What Gauri had achieved in her life was nothing path breaking or breath taking! May be she was born fire brand, had passion, was fearless but that’s about it. She did not topple any govt, she did not lead any mutiny, and had views which were against the views of many. Right or wrong? Nothing in life is absolutely right or wrong! But to kill a person for these reasons cannot be understood by a normal person like you and me.  

There have been different viewpoints in life all along. The advent of social media has taken these discussions to a different peak or a valley of hatred! Another thing is that, this venom spreads extremely fast! Snake bite may kill you in five minutes but social media venom can kill you 100 times in five minutes. I have read the reactions of people of both extremes. I am really ashamed to be part of such society.

Similar to strong reactions from extreme right wingers, why reactions from Gauri’s group of people equally venomous and strong! When nothing is ever proven why blame Hindu organizations directly? Nathuram Godse killed Gandhiji, that did not mean that RSS had directed him to do the killing. Another point I have never understood is why all right wingers are always Bhakts and all Left wingers are traitors? Why is fear expressed that Nazis are taking over? How come most of us don’t see these things? Maybe we are dumb? Maybe we are also Bhakts?

Is there any solution to such extreme thinking? Can so called debates on TV not be toned down? We cannot stop what is written on whatsapp and facebook. But TV debates are under controlled conditions! Contradictions are also easily visible. Probably some are immature people. In a protest march to condemn death of Gauri, Republic TV reporter was hooted out by Shehla Rashid. Freedom of speech is  for all, not only for extreme left wingers! Maturity?

Let me conclude with a small excerpt from tribute on Gauri’s death, written by Chidanand Rajghatta, a well-known columnist from Times of India, based out of Washington DC. He and Gauri were married for five years, long back!

“Gauri’s presence at the cards table became rare as she threw herself into the fight against right-wing bigots, zealots, and extremists. We argued about that too at the cards table because some friends thought she had gone the other extreme. There was no doubt she was left of center, even extreme left of center. But heart was in the right place, and there was no place in her world for violence. Only cowards took to violence.

One day, she called to announce that she’s coming with her son. “Who have you adopted now?” I asked. “Kanhaiya Kumar,” she chuckled. “You mean the JNU bloke?” “Yes, you’ll love meeting him.” Little later she called to say his flight was late and she can’t make it. That was the last time I heard her voice. Bubbly and bursting with energy and passion for causes big and small.”