Thursday, March 27, 2008
Hope we together try this happen.
original blog at:
Monday, March 24, 2008
Rahul Roy-Chowdhury spent nearly two decades in the U.S. before joining Google as its product manager for Google News. His particular mandate is to broaden Google News’ reach in India, and his company’s sent him back to capitalize on India’s strangely voracious appetite for news.
It’s one of the few countries in which newspaper circulation is actually increasing. That’s partly because rising incomes and education levels have stoked literacy, Roy-Chowdhury says, but it also has to do with the slow spread of Internet access. Of course, Google is planning for the day when every Indian can surf the Web for news, and it’s clear that when they can, they’ll still want what they like now: local news.
“If you leaf through almost any newspaper here, the sequence of sections is telling,” he says. “Generally, city and state news is given pride of place, followed by some national news and generally a small amount of international coverage.”
Roy-Chowdhury has to ensure that Google News not only provides that local coverage, but ultimately does so in the country’s different languages. India has 22 major languages. The country’s middle class, now about as big as the entire U.S. population, can speak English, but many still prefer to read and shop in their native tongues. “If we’re able to do it successfully, we can reach many orders of magnitude more people than we could otherwise,” he says. “I love the idea of potentially being able to make a difference at that scale.”
Who could have known, 17 years ago, that he would return to India as the representative of a mammoth high-tech company. Back then, India was still mired in sluggish growth, the product of decades of excessive government meddling in the economy. “Right as I was getting ready to leave for the U.S., India's balance of payments weaknesses suddenly caused a crisis,” he remembers. “India moved to a floating exchange rate, which immediately caused a severe devaluation of the rupee. I remember my father being quite upset, as my education in the US suddenly became 50 percent more expensive than it had been a month before!” Later on, India liberalized the economy, setting off the ongoing boom, which is particularly robust in high-tech industry.
He studied first mathematics, at Hamilton College, then computer science, at Columbia University. A stint at the New York offices of the investment bank Lazard Frères got him interested in business, which he pursued by getting an MBA at Stanford University, followed by a job at Solidcore, a Cupertino, California startup in that provides IT maintenance services. In 2007, Google gobbled him up.
Roy-Chowdhury now lives a stone’s throw from the center of Bangalore, which is the beating heart of India’s tech economy. There he sees the corporate offices of Intel, Microsoft, and a host of other tech multinationals, alongside malls packed with contemporary styles and name-brand fast food. It makes him feel right at home, because that is where he is.
Monday, March 17, 2008
At 14, he broke into the computer science department at the University of Calgary in Canada and taught himself to write software; he later received a computer science degree there.
The title of his PhD thesis from Carnegie Mellon University was The Algebraic Manipulation of Constraints.
He has built satellite data acquisition systems, a multiprocessor version of Unix, several compilers, mail systems and window managers. As well, he has built a WYSIWYG (what you see is what you get) text editor, a constraint-based drawing editor and a text editor called "Emacs" for Unix.
But, as they usually are, Mr Gosling is insightful, friendly, and highly amusing, wearing when we met the requisite technology T-shirt du jour, Galileo. He was in Australia recently for a couple of developer conferences.
At 52, Mr Gosling is a researcher at Sun Microsystems where his main interest is software development tools. "The reason why I stay is it's filled with a bunch of nutcases. Sun is a (relatively) small organisation, so there is a culture of tolerating craziness. It is open and understanding to risk; to an idea that might not be what people are expecting."
Mr Gosling says organisations have to reward risk and not penalise failure.
"Innovation is about new and interesting things. Innovation ends up being about risk, and thinking that risk and failure are good things.
"If you know it's going to work, it's probably boring," he says. "You've got to learn to trust crazy people. It's the people on the edge that have the most interesting insightful comments."
Mr Gosling says he never orders the same meal at a restaurant. That's akin to a lack of innovation.
"You've had a bad experience, so you stick with what's safe and you order the same meal all the time.
"A lot of innovation is about ignoring past failures, which can become obstacles. Innovation is a fearlessness about risk; a lack of concern about imagined negative consequences. Whatever goes wrong will be OK; it's a positive learning experience."
The biggest mistake Mr Gosling says he ever made was to not have enough confidence in himself. Not so much the engineering side, where he clearly excelled, but in "the stuff on the edges".
"Business and marketing people would come up with a position on stuff," he says. "They seemed wrong but I believed they were older and wiser and I didn't have the confidence to question them. People you think are oracles of wisdom - they're just making it up."
Mr Gosling learnt early on that clients who hire you don't know what they're talking about. "The trick is to listen and try to figure out what the problem is to solve. (For example) a company had a piece of software to do a simulation of an oil refinery but the simulation was taking more time than the machine could stay up for. They hired me to do tuning so the computation could be check-pointed, so it could be restarted.
"But when I saw the machine, I could hear that it was too noisy - the sound of a diskpad going back and forth, so it was a hardcore hardware problem. I fixed it and the runtime went down from three days to three minutes," he says. "Their views of the solution were bounded by their (limited) view of the problem."
Before joining Sun in 1984, Mr Gosling worked at IBM. He remembers a professional development course where an expert spoke on the history of warfare. "Get a bunch of business folk and their favourite book is The Art of War," he says. "I've met a lot of military folk, and they view their job as peace but business folk view their job as war. Folk at lower levels care about their jobs and at the top levels it's warfare. That was my epiphany."
Management at Apple is different from Sun, he says. "It is as black and opaque as a company can be. They have Chinese walls within the organisation, so they don't know what the others are doing, or even know that they are working on the same project.
"We at Sun are the goofballs. We're the most open guys on the planet. We have no secrets. We talk to our customers and our competitors a lot. There's a shortage of corporate lines and public positions on things."
At Sun, Mr Gosling and his colleagues once wrote a page of scenarios of what they thought people were likely to do in terms of technology. It was like an exercise in writing science fiction, he says. "We wondered what if cellphones got more capability? What if cellphones were computers? Most people thought we were goofs but we were spot on."
And the future of the web? "Gloriously unanswerable," he says. "All the important stuff is a surprise. It's a social experiment.
"The most interesting thing about the web is its unpredictability. People tend to focus on the technology but on the web you can build anything. The question is not so much can you build it but will anybody find it interesting?"
The Gosling creed
- Reward risk and don't penalise failure.
- Innovation is about risk and thinking that risk and failure are good things.
- You have to learn to trust crazy people. It's the people on the edge that have the most interesting, insightful comments.
- Have confidence in yourself. People you think are oracles of wisdom - they're just making it up.
- Listen carefully, and try to figure out what the problem is to solve.
"Being innovative is not a nationalistic character. It's shocking that still there is a perception that cheap engineers provide cheap solutions. The perception of Indian engineers are not creative or innovative as compared to their U.S. counterparts should go. There should not be any predisposition like Indian engineer, Israeli engineer etc.," said Dave Ettle, SVP, Products and Technology, AMDOCS OSS Division in his key note speech.Pari Natarajan, CEO of Zinnov said in his keynote that "R&D offshoring has seen phenomenal growth in the last 5 years and has played a key part in showcasing India's capability in innovation and high quality of work. However, the changing economic climate, increasing scale of operations, and increasing competition in the IT service sector demands new strategies."The event covered Indian offshoring scenarios, with 3 parallel tracks for Executive Management, HR and Top Finance executives. A congregation of the country's top, decision makers and influencers across the value-chain participated in the panel discussions during the event including names like Gajanana Hegde- Senior Director, Cisco-WebEx and Head, Connect Applications Development, Manoj Bawa, Director, Finance, McAfee, Vaibhav Parikh, Head, Nitish Desai and Associates, Aparna Ballakur, Director, HR, Adobe, Chitra Sood, Head, Staffing, Microsoft and Ravi Kyran, Director, HR, TI, India.
Thursday, March 13, 2008
Debt waiver skewed to favour rich landholders: Sainath
Tue, Mar 4 11:19 AM
New Delhi, March 4 (IANS) The one-time waiver of bank debts for 'small and marginal' farmers announced in the union budget will cover only a small fraction of needy farmers and is skewed in favour of rich landholders, says Magsaysay Award winner P. Sainath.
The debt waiver itself was good but would impact on only a few distressed farmers, the renowned columnist and rural affairs editor of The Hindu newspaper said Monday while delivering the third Sumitra Chisti memorial lecture on 'Death on the Farm: The Agrarian Crisis and its Consequences'.
According to Finance Minister P. Chidambaram, the debt waiver will only be limited to farmers with two hectares of holding which, said Sainath, rules out 52 percent of farmers in Maharashtra's Vidarbha region. Most of the farmers in Vidarbha had an average of six hectares 'as the quality of land was poor'.
'Out of the rest 48 percent, only a quarter had access to bank credit,' he said.
He pointed out that the debt was only limited till March 31, 2007, which he said, 'had been cynically and deliberately added by vested interests'.
The crop cycle for sugarcane growers in western Maharashtra, chief supporters of Agriculture Minister Sharad Pawar, is from January to February, when they take loans.
'But, for Vidarbha, the crop cycle is from April to June, so the waiver will miss out this year's debt,' said Sainath.
The award winning journalist added that while farmers in Vidarbha were getting credit of only Rs.4,000 per hectare, it was about Rs.30,000 for the sugarcane farmers in western Maharashtra.
'The grape growers, for whom MPs are lobbying to introduce wine in airlines, are a cartel of 18 corporate executives living in Mumbai and they get a credit of Rs.100,000 per hectare,' he stated.
Contrary to the Congress' claim of the unprecedented nature of this debt relief, there had been previous examples, including during the British Raj, of farmer's debts being waived off. According to Sainath, people who are supporting the move now had shot it down when the prime minister was ready to waive off debt after his visit to Vidarbha in 2006.
'I will still say that it is a good step, but farmers will be back to where they were in two to three years, if government does not stabilise prices,' he said
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