Hold on, no shaking your booty in Bangalore

(Credit to Mithun for this story)

I am afraid to have to say this, but it is true, the Karnataka state govt. has banned dancing in public places [1,2,3]. Any way you look at it, it does look like the government is trying to curb your personal freedom. Thankfully, we have not gone as far as to actually mimic a pure islamic state yet. But if we were to let them get away with this restriction, who is going to stop the moral police when they curb free speech?

There is of course a rationale, the ban is part of a wider effort to curb the western influence. Truthfully, influences can be bad as well as good. When the west said, “Can you take up these support jobs?” Karnataka was more than glad to do so. Suddenly, BPO’s in Bangalore were training several thousand youngsters on western accents, culture and other mannerisms. But of course, we cannot allow them to dance, that one bit might just tip the scale over? Is that really what the government is thinking?

We must be careful though, lest the western media portray India in the same light as as other policed nations, nations where your rights are worth only as much as the scrap of paper they are written on.

Bangalore was the first place in India to host anything close to a real Pink Floyd concert. Roger Water’s was there in the flesh (2002). I was glad I could make it, happy that Bangalore was the place to step up and host the concert.

Bangalore is also the daddy of the Indian westernized “public watering hole”. Bangalore pubs have offered for a while now the english pub culture, good music and ambience that flipped your mind. Before Bangalore, the local watering-hole only meant the restaurant down the road that got you a chuck for a buck and played old hindi songs from a mono-tape recorder. Of course the upcoming, young, middle-class wanted better. They were working longer hours, had a more global outlook and a paycheck that reflected this wide change. Where else could I hop from the pub dedicated to Marley to another one dedicated to Syd Barrett?

Bangalore is also one of the few cities in India with relaxed restrictions on the sale and distribution of Alcohol. That may have changed in recent times, but in my last visit there in 2004, I had the option to buy some at a california-style grocery store. Besides, they are never going to ban the sale of alcohol at pubs. Well not until and unless they found another source of revenue to replace the taxes they collect.

Am I proud of these influences that have changed India? Not really. Many Indians may have taken up Salsa and ignored Kathak. It’s definitely easier to find a place for aerobics than for Yoga. Tomorrow we might drop Sambar for Kentucky Fried Chicken (I doubt that though)! I respect the fact that people want their kids to grow up to be refined young Indians instead of the lead singer of a rock band or a salsa god.

Why did the government forget, an amalgamation of cultures is inevitable! Why are they fighting it? Please let’s not ban dancing and focus on the real issues that plague Bangalore.

[1] Wall Street Journal
[2] Japan Times
[3] Indian Express

Investing in Asia

The Best Asian Performers” – Business Week online.

Most people agree that energy and infrastructure companies appear to be up there with the best. Their popularity is attributed to the tremendous momentum transferred to these sectors by sky-rocketing growth in Asia.

It’s not surprising to see Infosys at 39.

News round up: Young Entrepreneurs

Another one of those blogs where the poster simply posts what he read today. Sure, lets not forget what this blog really is – a web journal :-).

I think it’s a privilege to be 20 something and able to risk it all on a venture that is close to your heart. I realise that not everyone makes it, but that doesn’t mean you should have to stop trying. Business week has a special report on the young entrepreneurs in North America.

Entrepreneurs: Cream of the Young Crop [Business week]
I especially enjoyed this slide show which walks you through each entrepreneur, his or her business idea, and the lessons they learnt from their experiences.

Tech’s Young Turks are back [Business week]

Teaching the startup mentality [Business week]

The Startup bug strikes early [Business week]

Don’t let ego kill the startup [Business week]

From hacker to protector [Business week]

Featured startups –
Voltage Security

Meanwhile, Paul Graham has been encouraging startups in his own way. Have a look through his essay “What I did this Summer” [paulgraham.com]. His Summer founders program has been spawning several ideas and motivating youngsters to chase those ideas.

Before you can start a business, you do need to start with an idea. You also need to know where that idea is going to be in the short-term, and at least a vague idea of the long-term. You need a business plan [entrepreneur.com].

Tata Tea Gold

I highly recommend Tata Tea Gold for those who enjoy drinking Black Tea from India. Trouble is, I can’t seem to get hold of a bag. My housemates and I just ran through one within a month. Vishal’s brother bought some for us from India.

Any ideas? Where can I get some here in the U.S?

Diwali across the Americas

Diwali was celebrated with much gusto in NYC, Vancouver, and other large cities in the U.S and Canada.

“This week, in a coincidence of calendars, Hindus and Muslims from India, Pakistan and Bangladesh are celebrating the most joyous holidays of the year. Hindus observe the festival of lights, Diwali, or Deepavali, which ushers in the new year; Muslims finish the holy month of Ramadan with Id al-Fitr, which signals the end of the monthlong daytime fast and a return to the sweetness of daily life.” —
Festival of lights: Parade of Sweets [NYTimes]

“Grewal said when she grew up in England in the ’60s, her family and friends didn’t “feel free to celebrate any of our festivals.” She is pleased to be living in today’s multicultural society where the city supports such celebrations.” —
South asians invite everyone to city-wide Diwali celebrations [Vancouver Courier]

“In keeping with the Diwali custom of also lighting the outside of the home, Kamlesh Thakrar has strung up colourful outdoor lights. That initially confused his neighbours. “They all said, `What are you doing? Christmas is three months away,'” chuckles Thakrar, who immigrated to Canada in 1975 from a tight-knit community of Indian expatriates in Kampala, Uganda.The Thakrars are among hundreds of millions of Hindus around the world, including nearly 200,000 in Greater Toronto, who will celebrate Diwali, the beginning of a new year on the Hindu calendar.” —
Let there be lights [Toronto Star]

Devon Street in Chicago is probably having a blast. San Francisco will have the Bollywood Diwali Dhoom at the HP Center in San Jose.

Happy Diwali!!

Scott Maxwell, you just read my mind!

Attracting, Retaining and Motivating. What’s in it for them? [Now what?] Scott Maxwell

An excerpt:

Stretch them (without breaking them). Think of stretching a rubber band as far as you can without breaking it. This is the fastest way for top caliber people to develop…getting their goals met becomes difficult for them, which they like!

Give them hard-hitting, constructive feedback. Everyone loves feedback, especially constructive feedback, and most managers shy away from giving it. Instead of hoping they will do the right thing and ignoring when they get off track, tell them what you observe and how you what you think (note: you can do this without being a micromanager by focusing on the themes rather than the details). High caliber people can and do want to do the right thing, so it is up to you to help define what that means (btw, you might be wrong, so giving them the feedback and being open to theirs is even better. It can get you aligned with you taking on their view of right quite often. It also clears the air really nicely).

Read the article

News round-up

The speaker of the U.S Congress has his own Blog
In this land of rabid polemicsm I can see that right now everyone has decided to side with technology and the benefits it promises. The speaker of the U.S congress has just setup his own blog [speaker.gov]. I’ll bet he got a 1000 hits in the first hour itself :-).

Chris Webber is black and proud
I saw Chris Webber [NBA] make an appearance on Real Time with Bill Maher on HBO. I was impressed by his pride in his African-American heritage and sense of identity. The discussion was focused on a new NBA directive that requires players to be dressed formally when travelling with their team or when on the sidelines during a game (e.g when they are injured and on the bench). Maher attempted to portray this directive as smacking of racial overtones. Chris Webber effectively retorted by going at the root of the problem – I paraphrase, just because he has been asked to wear a suit does not mean he has to stop being black.

Narayan Murthy shows the Karnataka authorities that he is pissed
There is a massive fallout between the very strong Infosys and the Karnataka govt. where a huge Infosys campus is based. Specifically, the CEO Narayan Murthy is angry that the state government has not addressed the poor infrastructure in the state. I am interested in the outcome. Can powerful corporate lobbies influence the state to do good? Thats a great change from hearing about how powerful pharmaceuticals and oil companies drive the state to do *no good*.

Rediff: Myths and facts about the Indian IT Industry
10 myths & facts about the Indian IT Industry [Rediff]