Showing posts from September, 2010

Ten Commandments for New Businesses

1. Your business must have a purpose; and fulfilling this purpose would lead to ‘making money’. 2. Your business must have a positive impact on the society; its long term profits would equal the positive impact created, and negative impact will result in losses. 3. The key to business success will NOT be who you know, but what you know. 4. Your business will be as strong as the relationships between its people. 5. Your business will be global, with a significant portion of either its supplies or its sales or its employees, or all of these three, coming from outside its immediate geographic region. 6. No matter what you do, your business will be an Internet business: The pathway from Google will be the passage you will need to decorate, and keep clean, every morning. 7. The words ‘tenure’ or ‘permanence’ will be as popular as ‘my lord’ and ‘Your Highness’ in the world of business. 8. Innovation and Marketing will be the only two income generating functions of your business; everything e

Steven Johnson: Where Good Ideas Come From

Narrative Identity as a Learning Tool

The trigger for this post comes from a recent conversation at the Nottingham Trent University School of Narrative Arts, where students in the Undergraduate programmes on Multimedia Programme use a blog to maintain a learning journal and many find this useful to construct a narrative identity (and look up narrative identities of their colleagues and seniors) and build their learning endeavours around it. I found such use blogging as a learning tool innovative, though it indeed seemed obvious after I learnt about it. Consider the programme structure and one gets to understand how it helps further. The programme in question leads to a B Sc(Hons) in Multimedia Programming. It starts with a generalist first year, but a specialism starts to develop in Year 2. The students have a choice to pick up one from three available streams - Moving Images, Interactive Media or Animation - and work on it for next couple of years. While it sounds straightforward, the biggest challenge for the students is

Enlightenment, Roll Back!

Four separate incidents in the last few weeks, and suddenly, Samuel Huntingdon's Clash of Civilization thesis looks like a self-fulfilling prophecy: First, a pastor in an obscure church in Florida decides to burn Koran on the 11 th September, apparently in retaliation of the perfectly legal plan to open an Islamic community centre at a site near Ground Zero. The event ended in a farce, the Pastor finally agreeing to cancel the event after worldwide condemnation, though not before making a face-saving claim that the community centre in New York will be moved, which the Imam in New York flatly denied. Next, France's legislators outlaw wearing Burkha in public places. This comes after their completely illegal and racially motivated expulsion of Roma gypsies from the country, another desperately xenophobic stance by the deeply unpopular President, the neo -Napoleon Sarkozy . If the French Muslims took a leaf out of Gandhi and turned this into a non-violent civil disobedience,

Myself and Other Obsessions

In a way, silence denotes happiness. I am most talkative when I am unhappy. I mostly am. The point is - those who know me well makes it - that happiness makes me unhappy. I am that compulsive boat-rocker tales seem to talk of - in desperate pursuit of ' un-happyness '. It is a sort of a cycle: bland happiness makes me unhappy, being unhappy makes me talk and finally, as I love the words - their act of creation and melting into our minds - the talking makes me happy, and therefore, silent. This is why I write the posts compulsively sometimes - sending my sister on a desperate catch-up trail on some mornings - but at other times, slump into procrastinating silence. Such as in last week. I have this feeling of involvement at my work, after a long time, and the sensation that I can make a difference. I stepped myself up trying to change some of the things that needed changing, and, first time in many years, things have started changing around me. The journey is not without its d

Professor Raghuram Rajan Talks About Indian Economy

Developing New 'Cities'

Indian cities today represent different layers of Indian history: Cities like Varanasi our distant Hindu past, Delhi and Ahmedabad our Muslim heritage, Surat, Mumbai and Calcutta sport the symbols of British times and the new ones, Chandigarh, Bhubaneswar and New Delhi, reflect the ambitions of Independent India. I shall argue that time has come to build a new layer altogether. That of small city talent clusters. Many large Indian cities are at a breaking point. Their population is too large, the public services inadequate, the local governance too remote and ineffective, and their development in reverse gear. For all the mystic of Mumbai , anywhere to anywhere takes more than an hour to travel. All the joys of Calcutta gets undone by the remoteness, insensitivity and corruption of its city fathers. The story is same for all the large cities, not to mention the pollution and the social disconnect it invariably creates. We seem to be following the Industrial Revolution model, that

TED Video: How Children Teach Themselves

Sugata Mitra's fascinating experiments with learning is captured in this TED video. The summary message is what Arthur C Clarke is quoted saying: The teacher who can be replaced by technology, should be; and, when children have interest, education happens.

The Twilight of Nationalism

Nations are making a comeback. That’s the precise point raised by assorted pundits in the aftermath of the Greek financial crisis. And, after all, the World’s biggest, most powerful, most influential country, the United States, is holding together well as a nation. Nationalism there, especially after the events in the last ten years, is resurgent. So it is in China, India and South East Asia, home of half of all people on earth. So, the loose experiments in Europe and loose talk in Middle East do not put nationalism on back foot. It remains, as it was always, a central feature of the modern world. Besides, if one thought the virtual world, realm of the Internet, will undermine nationalism, it is time to reconsider. The Economist calls this a ‘Virtual Counter-revolution’ – as the nations try to claim the web and erect controls and boundaries. This is indeed very real, anyone visiting China or the Middle Eastern countries will testify. And, such nationally erected boundaries are not an a

TED Video: Finding Flow - An Inspiring Talk by Mihaly Csikszentmihaly

TED Video: Useful Advice on Setting Goals

Derek Sivers, as usual, has some useful advice - particularly for me.

Gandhi as A Teacher

This fascinates me: Gandhi came up with an unheard of concept, non-violent struggle, and trained millions of 'unschooled' Indians to follow him. In the process, he changed a number of things, including throwing open the political process to those who were hitherto excluded, and defined the nation. In fact, I shall argue that Gandhi and his struggle built India as a nation. This will indeed go against the colonial conception that the British built India as a nation (My argument: They built a single economic entity, but that was the nation, because that excluded most of the Indians, living outside the city centres, from the process). This will also fly in the face of revivalist nostalgia, dating back to Vedas, that India was an ancient nation, defined by its age-old scriptures and stories. This version has its own truth, which is again partial: The spiritual/ cultural identity of India is built around such tradition, indeed, but India lacked the singular political identity of, sa

Ted Talk Worth Watching: Happy Planet Index : Nic Marks

Journal Entry: The Question of Return

Saturdays are special, not just because they come once every five days. By that definition, Sundays will be more special, because they appear once in six days. But Sundays are rather lazy, even the God felt tired and slept, because, particularly if you are in Britain, most shops operate on an absurdly short schedule. But Saturdays are far more active, and though I usually spend a good part of the day shopping and stocking up for the week, it is still my time to plan for the following week. Sometimes, the planning horizons are longer, and issues on table are too complex to be decided upon immediately. This is one of those Saturdays. The key question I am grappling with is whether or not, and when, I shall be able to return to India. This appeared a no- brainer even a few months ago. I was in a dead-end, thoroughly unsatisfying job, which involved travelling to India once in a few months. An additional dimension was added by the racist abuses I had to endure, ever so often, inside my ow

Journal Entry: The First day of Fog

It was good to get up early today. I am usually a morning person. But, after joining the college, my daily schedule has changed a bit. I never get home till very late, and then my studies and other commitments keep me awake. The alarm, as usual, goes off at five, but I have struggled to get up that early. But, today, was different. In fact, today, as the alarm went off, I felt lazy. There was none of the early morning summer sun to be felt through the curtains: It was all dark. It felt different. Though it was tempting to stay in bed for longer, it was the mixture of guilt and curiosity that pulled me to get up. And, then, I saw the mist outside. So, the autumn has finally arrived. On time, and in full glory. Now, surely the leaves will go. Warm clothes will come out. Days will become amazingly short. The chill of the wind will soon turn into rain. After a long, dry and hot summer as it was this year, I have almost forgotten winter, but it has now made its presence felt. It felt the r

On Professional Language

I have come to believe that having a profession is actually about learning two things: A particular method of enquiry and a particular sort of language. Each profession has both of these, otherwise they are not considered a profession. Some take it to extremes, like the Accountants and Lawyers. Some derive a language through complicated phrases and sometimes obfuscation, like the Philosophers and Sociologists. And, some, like educationalists and politicians, because of the nature of their task, which involves 'unschooled' people, struggle to adopt a particularly differentiated language - and hence are not considered to be 'full' professions. We already know that people with different disciplines think differently. This is more likely to be the effect of their training rather than the cause of choosing the respective disciplines. But it is equally possible to see the use of a particular language as a sort of tribal ritual, a way to demarcate the intellectual spaces and

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