Ego cogito, ergo sum

A compodium of my published aritcles, features, etc. on technology, IT and everything else; sourced from CyberMedia publications, Financial Express, Free Press Journal, Nazara.com, etc……

Archive for the ‘Feature: Indian IT’ Category

Open Vs Proprietary: The War is still On

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No sooner had I put up innocuous query on LinkedIn asking respondents whether open source is cheaper than proprietary software, responses to the same started flowing in. Experts and professionals from around the globe started debating the issue on the forum. Some were die-hard open source proponents arguing about all the good that is there in those lines of code written by the developer ilk. On the other hand, there were the pragmatists that argued against and prescribed more practical approach that could only be possible through the use of proprietary or as a few called it, closed systems.

The age old war between the two technologies, namely, open source and proprietary software is still very much on. Like the proverbial good versus evil clash, everyone was eager to paint the other as evil. Lost somewhere in translation is the real issue, namely which of the two is cheaper, secure, easier to maintain, etc. The question we really need to tackle is not a philosophical one, i.e., what is good or what is evil but simply which is preferable and which is not. So here is a primer on what is what.

Apples & oranges?

One of the issues that lot many experts often raise and rail about is when the two, namely open source and proprietary are comparable at all.  The way the two have emerged and evolved is the reason for it. While, open source has been around for many decades, thanks to the mainframe legacy, where in the computer belonged to the technologist. Hence, a breed of technologists emerged who believed in technology for the sake of technology. Meanwhile, the proprietary software, one can say is of recent emergence especially since the college dropouts Bill Gates and Paul Allen started peddling software developed by others for profit, and so was Microsoft and proprietary software born. Since, the past three decades, the war between the two has continued ever since. Read the rest of this entry »

Written by Shashwat D.C.

May 13, 2010 at 6:05 pm

Indian CIOs: A pampered lot?

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Settling down for a cup of tea with a CIO friend of mine, the discussion veered about things in general and not so general. After touching topics like the elections in Maharashtra, water cuts in Mumbai, and Nobel for Prez Obama, the topic veered towards the various clubs et al. The clubbing bit was a trigger and my friend showed me an invitation that he (or another CIO friend of his) had received from reputed IT publishing group.
The proposed club had almost all the features like the other CIO clubs, but it went a bit ahead. Namely, there will be family outings, tuitions and career guidance for kids, cookery classes and kitty parties for wives, caretakers for old parents, etc. In addition, there will be all those ‘exclusive’ conferences invites, the offsite events, etc. etc. Yet one of the most distinguishing features of the proposed club was the annual fee, a whopping Rs. 1,00,000 per annum.
With a rather obtusely open mouth, I asked my friend what he thought of the initiative and the annual fee. He smiled at me obliquely and responded; “why pay when you can have all this and more for free”.
Indeed, over the years that I have spent in the IT industry, one observation that has been reaffirmed time over time that among all the other top executives within an organization, the Chief Information Officer or CIO stands tall and is treated differently  both within and outside the organization. It has been a long journey was the Indian CIO, often starting as an EDP manager in the days of yore and then going on to head a function that was at best considered to be a support one. Today, the IT department is critical glue that not only connects the disparate functions within the company but now is also a strategic one than can help in curtailing costs and gaining market share. As the weight age of the IT function zoomed over the years, so has the stock value of the CIO.
And the CIO stock value only increases depending on the vertical space he is in, thus say for instance a CIO at TCS, Infosys and Wipro might be at par with the rest of the chiefs, like CFO, CPO (chief people officer), etc. In other domains like manufacturing, banking and telecom, where IT could be the deciding factor between success and disaster, the CIO is next only to the CEO. No major decisions in these companies are taken without the CIO’s solicitation. The CEO is constantly checking out with the CIO, “Is this possible”, “how can we do it better”, “help!!”.
The change in the CIO’s stature can be gauged by the cosy cabins that they now occupy, till a decade or so back, CIOs used to take up space beside the data enter in case they are needed in a jiffy. But now, their cabins are next to CEOs and rest, reflecting a shift from a technological role to that of a strategic one.
So that proves how the CIO’s role has evolved over the year. Let me now tell you why they are a pampered lot as well.
India is a country in a hurry at the moment. After years of socialist stagnation, we embraced the liberalism with the enthusiasm and fanaticsm of a new convert. Suddenly the economy shifted gears from neutral to 4, and growth became the new mantra. The change in the market also brought about a massive change in the mindset as well. Also, with economy opening up suddenly there were a glut of options.
Since, IT is all pervasive, right from the desktops, mobile to the data center, the CIO’s opinion on what to buy and how much to buy became the last word on it. The vendors realised it first and smartly and subtly started to cajole the CIOs, with Diwali hampers, New Year gifts, branded freebies, etc. Next, they started to organize conferences and round-tables at fancy locales abroad, taking the CIOs with them on an all paid luxurious trip.
It is not only the vendors who court the CIOs, but the media, especially the B2B one, became an ardent admirer. For the few publication houses that run the magazine in the space, the CIO community is the most important one, simply because depending on the same will the vendors agree to splurge on full page or false cover adverts. In the past year or so, for these B2B publications, as the print revenues shrunk substantially, events became an important source of income. And now the CIO was no more an important factor, but the most important factor, as the sponsors would only agree to pay if you could ensure the presence of a set number of enterprise CIOs for the event. Any faltering on the number and the client would refuse to cough up as well. Little wonder, in the past one year, there were more enterprise events (from business intelligence to storage) than the past 5 years. Not only the B2B magazines, but also reputed mainstream publications and business news channels started organizing such events to quickly shore up their top line.
The Indian CIOs too realised this shift as now they were being repeatedly called as panellists, delegates, etc. for scores of events. Take the case of my CIO friend having a tea; in the past week he had attended 4 conferences, 1 in Bangalore, 1 in Delhi and 2 in Mumbai, flying business class to all places. And this was a lean week, since he could not attend (or wished not too) some 5 other events he was called to. He is a star and he knows it.
Another symbol of the power is the amount of clubs that have mushroomed over the past few years, one of the most successful ones is the CIO Club in Mumbai, set up by the CIOs themselves. The club activities take place in swanky 5-star hotels sponsored by different vendors. Recently, Network 18 had officially joined hands with the club, to what end, I am still not sure. Then there is a Gartner Club for CIOs, rumoured to be quite heavy on the pockets and also IMA has a club for the CIOs as well. Indeed, every publication worth its salt tries to engage the CIOs through these clubs, forms, community exercise and the CIOs are quite aware of this. There have been times when senior CIOs have refused to attend an event if they are called merely as a panellist and not as a speaker. On the other hand, there are a few CIOs who can be seen at all the events and even the vendors are not keen to court them.
Thus because of the power than the Indian CIOs wield, they are much respected, loved, feared and also pampered by alln sundry. Even, my CIO friend, when I shared with him these views appeared to agree. Finally, I posed him the Rs. 1,00,000 question; Would you be joining the club?
“Of course not,” he quipped, “my CEO will never agree to pay and I would not want to pay. If I did pay, would it not be better to pay for gymkhana membership that will help me get in shape. Rather than a publication that promises to provide me special pases for events; where I would be invited anyways,” he stated. Like many else Indian CIOs, he did seem to know his value and surely he won’t settle for anything less.

Settling down for a cup of tea with a CIO friend of mine, the discussion veered about things in general and not so general. After glossing over issues like the elections in Maharashtra, water cuts in Mumbai, and Nobel for Prez Obama, the topic veered towards the various clubs et al. The clubbing bit was a trigger and my friend showed me an invitation that he (or another CIO friend of his) had received from reputed IT publishing group.  The company was establishing a CIO club, and was soliciting advice on it.

The proposed club had almost all the features like the other CIO clubs, but it went a bit ahead. Namely, there will be family outings, tuitions and career guidance for kids, cookery classes and kitty parties for wives, caretakers for old parents, etc. In addition, there will be all those ‘exclusive’ conferences invites, the offsite events, etc. etc. Yet one of the most distinguishing features of the proposed club was the annual fee, a whopping Rs. 1,00,000 per annum.

With a rather obtusely open mouth, I asked my friend what he thought of the initiative and the annual fee. He smiled at me obliquely and responded; “why pay when you can have all this and more for free”.

Indeed, over the years that I have spent in the IT industry, one observation that has been reaffirmed time over time that among all the other top executives within an organization, the Chief Information Officer or CIO stands tall and is treated differently  both within and outside the organization. It has been a long journey for the Indian CIO, often starting as an EDP manager in the days of yore and then going on to head a function that was at bestpamperconsidered to be a support one. Today, the IT department is critical glue that not only connects the disparate functions within the company but now is also a strategic one than can help in curtailing costs and gaining market share. As the weight age of the IT function zoomed over the years, so has the stock value of the CIO.   Read the rest of this entry »

Written by Shashwat D.C.

October 16, 2009 at 3:39 am

Posted in Feature: Indian IT

Farewell Rama

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Farewell Rama
Received an innocuous mail from TCS today, it was a press meet at their heritage building HQ in Mumbai with the CEO and MD. All seemed like yore till my eyes actually read the name N Chandrasekaran instead of the usual S Ramadorai. In fact, the mind is so accustomed to see his name, that it took a moment to realise that the change of guard that had been in the offing, is finally at hand. Come tomorrow (October 6), the curtains will be down for one of the most illustrious CEOs of India, Subramaniam Ramadorai or S. Ramadorai as he is more universally known. The top-honcho at TCS, the $6 billion IT behemoth, will hand over the baton to his successor N Chandrasekaran (Chandra, is his appellate) and take a back seat as the vice-chairman. The handover is necessitated by the Tata Rule book that states that no individual can continue as a CEO beyond the age of 65. There have been exceptions in the past, but Rama has chosen to follow the rule-book and not take the easy way out. In fact this is one of the most defining traits of Rama as an individual and as a CEO; he never flinches to take a long arduous path if he believes it to be the right one. With a grit that only a few can match up with, Rama will keep working at the goal tirelessly, day in and day out. And yet, except for the few around him not many would realise that this calm serene sexatarian is a workaholic, who even when is calm and serene on the out, is in fact working at a frenzied pace within. Looks can be deceptive, is a phrase that would have been coined for Rama, if it wasn’t before.
It was much this grit and determination that won him the CEO cap at TCS, when the doyen of Indian IT, FC Kohli retired back in 1996. back then, not many knew who exactly Ramadorai was or would have given him much notice, considering the fact that back then TCS was a private company and fairly secretive about its revenues and spread. In those days, for Indians IT meant Infosys or Wipro, or even HCL, but certainly not TCS. And yet, Rama who had joined TCS as a junior engineer in 1972 was destined and determined to change that. He rose through the ranks and eventually was charged with setting up TCS’ operations in the United States in 1979 in New York City, where he got an opportunity to prove his mettle.
Hailing from Nagpur, Rama grew up in Delhi where his father worked with the Indian audits and accounts service department. After studying physics at the University of Delhi, he headed south to Bangalore to study communication technology at the prestigious Indian Institute of Science. After graduating in 1968, Ram briefly joined the Physical Research Lab at Ahmedabad, but soon left to pursue higher studies at the University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA) from where he obtained his masters in computer science.
After completing his education, Rama joined NCR in the US itself briefly before homesickness set in and he yearned to return back. It was at that time that his father told him that the Tata group was looking for ‘people who could work on computers. It was in Nov 1971, that Rama was interviewed by AH Tobaccowala, president, Tata Inc., who was based in New York. Ram was employed with TCS in Bombay on February 23, 1972; the rest as they say is history.
Speaking from a personal perspective, over the years I had numerous chances to interact with Rama. And believe me, till recent past, he was dreaded by the IT journalist fraternity, simply because it is quite impossible to wean out any juicy bit from him. Interviewing him was often a staid experience, as Rama would always stick to sort of a script replying in a low tone, and in as few words as possible. There would hardly be a smile on his face, and he would often seem bored by responding to similar questions.
Yet, there was a perceptible change in him over the last year or so, probably ever since Chandra’s appointment was finalised. Rama seemed much at ease at the conferences and would even smile or quip humorously at a query. It was as if with the weight off his shoulders, he suddenly was enjoying his stint. He even started Facebooking, wherein he started sharing with the world his own perspective on a lot of things. For instance it is from there that one comes to know about his passion for music, walking, golf, cricket and that he likes to read anything – from science & tech to sports, biographies and music. He even went to the extent of sharing his experiences on winning the CBE, considering his shyness is a big big achievement.
Hopefully he won’t really be ‘retiring’ in the real sense of terms, he is currently the Chairman of TATA Technologies Limited, Chairman of CMC Ltd, and Vice Chairman of TATA Elxsi (India) Ltd. He is also the chairman of Computational Research Laboratories Ltd. He is also on the Board of Directors of Hindustan Unilever Ltd, Nicholas Piramal India Ltd, TATA Limited (India), TATA Infotech Limited (India), TATA Internet Services Limited, Nelito Systems Limited, and several other companies. And will also be the Vice Chairman of TCS. In his own words, he will now take on a mentoring role and guide the new CEO at TCS.
Nonetheless, the reticent wise old man of Indian IT will surely be missed, and with his exit a glorious chapter come to an end. Hopefully there are a lot more to come from him; will be keeping an eye on his FB page.
P.S. Hear in his own words what he had to say Chandra and the future of TCS..

Received an innocuous mail from TCS today, it was regarding a press meet at their heritage building HQ in Mumbai with the CEO and MD. All seemed like yore till my eyes actually read the name N Chandrasekaran instead of the usual S Ramadorai. In fact, the mind is so accustomed to see his name, that it took a moment to realise that the change of guard that had been in the offing, is finally at hand.

Come tomorrow (October 6), the curtains will be down for one of the most illustrious CEOs of India, Subramaniam Ramadorai or S. Ramadorai as he is more universally known. The top-honcho at TCS, the $6 billion IT behemoth, will hand over the baton to his successor N Chandrasekaran (Chandra, is his appellate) and take a back seat as the vice-chairman. The handover is necessitated by the Tata Rule book that states that no individual can continue as a CEO beyond the age of 65. There have been exceptions in the past, but Rama has chosen to follow the rule-book and not take the easy way out. In fact this is one of the most defining traits of Rama as an individual and as a CEO; he never flinches to take a long arduous path if he believes it to be the right one. With a grit that only a few can match up with, Rama will keep working at the goal tirelessly, day in and day out. And yet, except for the few around him not many would realise that this calm serene sexatarian is a workaholic, who even when is calm and serene on the out, is in fact working at a frenzied pace within. Looks can be deceptive, is a phrase that would have been coined for Rama, if it wasn’t before.ramadorai

It was much this grit and determination that won him the CEO cap at TCS, when the doyen of Indian IT, FC Kohli retired back in 1996. Back then, not many knew who exactly Ramadorai was or would have given him much notice, considering the fact that back then TCS was a private company and fairly secretive about its revenues and spread. In those days, for Indians IT meant Infosys or Wipro, or even HCL, but certainly not TCS. And yet, Rama who had joined TCS as a junior engineer in 1972 was destined and determined to change that. He rose through the ranks and eventually was charged with setting up TCS’ operations in the United States in 1979 in New York City, where he got an opportunity to prove his mettle.

Hailing from Nagpur, Rama grew up in Delhi where his father worked with the Indian audits and accounts service department. After studying physics at the University of Delhi, he headed south to Bangalore to study communication technology at the prestigious Indian Institute of Science. Read the rest of this entry »

Written by Shashwat D.C.

October 6, 2009 at 3:37 am

VFXing its Way…

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Bollywood, the largest film industry in the world, has finally come to terms with computing power, as more and more filmmakers are jumping on the VFX bandwagon for cost or for glory.

Babubhai Mistry is a name not many are able to recall; even in Bollywood. The few that do, are completely oblivious to Babubhai’s (as he was fondly known) state of affairs; whether he alive or is no more. And yet, just a few decades back, he was a star in his own right, dubbed as the ‘trick scene director’, he was the person who made it possible for Hanuman to lift the Gandhamadan mountain or Hatimtai to fly on a magical carpet in Hindi films. For over 50 years, Babubhai was the man who gave wings to film maker’s and viewer’s fantasies, he was India’s premier special effects director with around 300 films to his credit as director or special effects cinematographer. Many dub his most active years, from 40s to 70s, as the age of the mythologicals (in another words, the age of special effects).

Till around 1970s, Indian and Hollywood films were more or less the same in terms of usage of technology and output. When Babubhai made Mahabharata in the 60s, around the same time Hollywood saw the release of The Ten Commandments, Benhur or the King of Kings. There wasn’t a major difference in the way action sequences were displayed in these movies.

All that changed with the emergence of George Lucas on the international scene. Lucas’ Star Wars in the 1970s opened the realm of possibilities with the use of robotics and computer effects. Meanwhile, Steven Spielberg brought to life aliens in E.T., dinosaurs in Jurassic Park, sharks in Jaws and alien machines in War of the Worlds. Hollywood had discovered the magic of computers and was eagerly trying to redefine the realm of possibilities.

Finally, Peter Jackson went a notch higher, the Lord of the Rings trilogy proved what modern high-end computing can achieve. And if that was not enough, he put life in the giant ape King Kong. Visual Special Effects or VFX in Hollywood is getting bigger and bigger by the day, every year big blockbuster movies are released that heavily rely on VFX to pull the audiences.
vfx-1
In sharp contrast, Indian films lagged as filmmakers persisted with the same old techniques. The reluctance to adopt computing platform resulted in a yawning gap between Indian films and the ones made in Hollywood. So, while the two were on the same level till the 70s, over the next 2-3 decades, Hollywood raised the level of moviemaking to such an extent that the comparison itself seemed laughable.

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Written by Shashwat D.C.

May 4, 2009 at 2:11 pm

Online Netajis……

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Political parties of all hues and contours are jumping on to the online bandwagon in pursuit of the Indian voter. Will they succeed or not is the big question on everyone’s mind. Here is a primer.

“Power comes from the barrel of a gun,” is what Chinese dictator Mao Tse Tung had proclaimed many decades back. The Chinese revolution in the 1950s, became the sort of template for almost all the revolutionaries across the globe, be it Fidel Castro in Cuba to Ho Chi Minh in Vietnam, from Saparmurat Niyazov in Turkmenistan to Prachanda in Nepal. Despotic governments propped up by Kalashnikovs popped up across different continents and regions. Apparently, gun and government complimented each other beatifically.

Then in 2009, to be precise, another revolution took shape, a black man with mixed heritage ascended the most powerful position in the world by being elected as President of the United States beating all the odds. A year earlier, no one would have given Barrack Obama even a sniffing chance of winning the election but that is what he did in a manner that took most of the world by surprise. His strategy was similar to the ones used by all the dictators (a promise of change that roused the populace) except for one crucial difference: instead of gun, Obama relied on copper wire. His message of change was not spread by gunshots but by telephone and cable lines across the 50 states of the US.

Medium became almost as powerful as the message itself. By winning over the White House, black Obama engendered a new template for all the politicians (usually the democratic ones) to follow, namely the use of Internet and Telephony to spread the message.

Come May 2009, this Obama template will be put to its most rigorous test in the largest democratic election of the world: when the 15th Lok Sabha elections take place. With over 8,00,000 polling stations and nearly 700 million people eligible to cast their votes the battle royale for the PM’s seat has begun for the various political parties.

The coming of Cyber Politics

Since, this election promises to be a closely fought one, no party is leaving any stone unturned in its pursuit of the voter, with much attention and time being given to the first-time voters and the tech-savvy middle class. Impressed by the way Obama spread the message of change, political parties are using every means at their disposal to spread their word, be it television, print or hoardings. From roadside walls plastered with posters to fancy adverts on television. The battle for the ballot has now spilled on to the cyberspace, with each party looking at making gains by hosting websites, blogs, or sending emails.

It is not as if that political parties have suddenly discovered the Internet as a medium, both the Congress and the BJP have had online presence for a long time. For instance, years back Congress Leader Jagdish Tytler had launched an online forum while for BJP it was their tech savvy leader Pramod Mahajan. In fact, BJP had launched its own website and formed an IT cell way back in 1997. The rest, like the Communist Party of India (CPI), Telugu Desam party, Shiv Sena, Nationalist Congress Party (NCP), and the rest, all have a web presence.

Nonetheless, the parties are now moving to the next stage, from static website to interactive Internet strategies. Again, the Obama template comes into play. According to reports, the biggest game changer for Obama was his community building exercise, which included an impressive 13 million e-mail addresses and some 2 million friends on his social networking site. Not surprisingly, parties are trying to emulate the same in India by actively using technology to reach out to the electorate.

The Saffron winner Read the rest of this entry »

Written by Shashwat D.C.

April 6, 2009 at 9:01 pm

To (H-1)B or not to be?

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Criticism against the H-1B visa program is mounting with easy passing day with increasing job losses in the US. Will Indian companies, IT sector particularly, be able to whether the storm as they were the chief beneficiary of the program?

November 4th, 2008, will forever be remembered as a historic date, as it was the day a black man (Barrack Obama) was elected as the 44th President of the United States. His victory against all odds was wildly celebrated not only across towns and cities in the US but also across the globe. Thousands of people across different continents were seen cheering and celebrating Obama’s election to lead US for the next 4 years. But back here in India, there was muted scepticism for the new president. Though overtly, there were congratulatory messages being exchanged and right noises being made, deep down inside there was a niggling fear of Obama as a policy maker and Democrats in large.

The trepidation was not without reason, the world at large and the US specifically is facing one of the biggest economic challenges in the past few decades. Prompted by the Sub-prime crisis, the US economy has been going down, and going down fast. With factories shutting down and jobs being retrenched, Obama promised a policy that was a complete anti-thesis of the Republican pro-toh102_31march2k9business line. He talked about pumping money in the economy and more importantly ensuring that Americans did not lose their jobs to migrant workers (read Indians). In fact, he had even spoken against the H-1B Visa program, wherein companies were allowed to bring in specialist workers for some 6 odd years in the US.

The main beneficiary of the H-1B Visa program were Indian tech companies, namely, TCS, Wipro, Infosys, likes that sent their workers in the US on deputation. Using H-1B Indian IT companies could offer a range of outsourcing services to corporations across the US. But as the job losses seem to be at historic high in the US, the shrill against the H-1B program is growing stronger by the day. In fact, the latest data released by the US immigration authorities, shows that Indian IT majors received the maximum number of H-1B work permits in 2008 (see table). It is certainly not a new trend as Indian IT majors had dominated the list of H-1B recipient list last year as well. Last year 163,000 immigrant workers applied for 65,000 slots. These figures are being used by the critics of H-1B program, ranting against the dominance of Indian IT firms.toh103_31march2k9

The Noose tigthens

Protectionism is indeed on the rise in the US. There are numerous senators who are lobbying hard to have the H-1B program be scrapped or have severe restrictions imposed. Not surprisingly, last month, when President Obama presented the $787 billion federal stimulus bill to the US Congress, he spoke about how restrictions would be imposed on H-1B use by financial-services firms that receive bailout funds. On the other hand pressure is also rising on the US MNCs asking them not to employ H-1B workers, for instance, Senator Chuck Grassley sent letters to Microsoft mentioning that the company had “a moral obligation” to put the jobs of US citizens ahead of H-1B immigrant workers amidst layoffs.

There was also much hue and cry among the Indian community in the US over the three-month deadline to leave the US for H-1B visa holders who have lost their jobs. U.S.-based organisations of Indians have asked for an extension of the deadline as a falling market it is difficult for returnees to sell their assets and settle their affairs.

Back in India, the response has been much refrained. While quite a few politicians have decried against any sort of protectionism, not much has been forthcoming from the IT sector. Nasscom for its part expressed ‘serious concern’ at the turn of things. Government officials in India are lobbying with the US government to work out an amicable solution to the issue.

Likely Impact?

So, how bad is the news for India and Indian companies in particular; is the big question that is on everybody’s mind right now. There is a body of thought, that in order to stay competitive companies in the US will have to looks at ways and means of increasing productivity while at the same time cut costs and hence they cannot do away with outsourcing all together. It is simple economics and no amount of politics can really score over it. Also, the fact remains that in spite of his Democratic antecedents, the Clintons (former president Bill Clinton and current secretary of state Hillary Clinton) have been supporters of the H-1B program. In fact, the wind seems to be still blowing in favour of the H-1B program, as Obama chose Senator Judd Gregg as the Secretary of Commerce. Gregg had in the past stood out in the Senate in strong favour for expanding the cap on H-1B visas from the current 65,000 per year.

In the meantime, companies and job seekers are again gearing up for applying for the H-1B visas that will become available in financial year 2010, which begins in October. The USCIS will receive application for the 65,000 visas on April 1. Business icons like Eric Shmidt (Google) and Bill Gates (Microsoft) are known proponents of the H-1B program. Thus, there is the likelihood that all the words might not really translate into action, and Indian companies might continue to benefit like they have done in the past.

In the end, it all boil down to the economics, if the crisis worsens and there are more job cuts and losses in the US, the opposition against outsourcing in general and H-1B in particular will increase by manifold. Banks and financial institutions that have been bailed out by the US treasury will be under enormous pressure to hire American citizens over immigrants. With a bevy of banks being funded by the US government, this is certainly not a great scenario. Also, if perchance the massive bailout fails to enthuse the economy President Obama will be coerced into adopting more radical means of kick-starting the US economy.

On the other hand, if in the next few quarters the pall of gloom lifts and there is an improvement on the ground in terms of the US economy, the tirade against the outsourcing will lessen. Indian companies are desperately hoping and praying for the same as their own health is intricately linked with this scenario. The big question is will it happen that way? And what if, it doesn’t?

(This article of mine had been recently published in Dataquest)

Written by Shashwat D.C.

March 22, 2009 at 12:22 am

Space debris a concern: ISRO chief

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Recently, when I spoke to ISRO chairman G Madhavan Nair (one of the best interactions I had in a long time), I could not resist but ask his views on space debris in light of the latest collision of US Iridium satellite with that of a defunct Russian satellite.

According to experts, there are currently at least 17,000 objects measuring 4 inches or greater circling the Earth. The US government estimates that there are 200,000 objects in the 1-3 inch range and tens of millions smaller than an inch. Thus, it poses a major hazard to any space mission, including the upcoming ones from ISRO.

Hence, I asked Mr. Nair, his views on the subject, and this is what he had to say:

“Space debris is a real issue and a serious concern, though the threat as of now is not very high as the probability of a collision happening is very bleak, approximately one in a million, less than that of a road accident. We have been facing this issue and need to take care of it because these objects are
travelling at around 7.5 km/sec and any collision at that speed can be
quite disastorous.

Of course during the launch of satellite, we keep a track of a catalog
of known objects and we ensure that they are taken care of. But beyond
that there is a lot of minute and small objects that are hovering
above the ear and pose a threat to any mission. Fortunately, an American agency has made a detailed catalog of the objects and they share it with us all the time. The issue of space debris will get more critical in the coming years as the clutter increases in the time to come.”

Coming from the man behind the Chandrayaan mission, this is indeed a serious concern. The big question is whether there is anything that we can do??

Written by Shashwat D.C.

February 15, 2009 at 1:30 am