Monday, November 03, 2008

Slowdown and the Digital Media

Just as is the question with just about all other industry in today's state of slowdown, so it is with the impact on Digital Media. Will the slowdown in the world economy and the collapse of the US economic order impact the digital media in India? Given the size of the market in India which is about 350 crore rupees, which is a tiny portion of the overall ad spends in the country, it is very unlikely that it is going to be affected. Ad budgets across the other media which are huge will be affected, ad spends will be slashed, and with the smaller budgets this is a good time to experiment with online advertising, so the online market will see good times ahead.

Saturday, November 01, 2008

When the sound and the lights are done with....

Diwali - came and it went. Surprisingly, given the condition of the market in the last few weeks and the general pall of gloom that had descended like an evil dark cloak over the general public, the festivities that one heard around were not as dull as one would have expected. Well, the reports said that the shopping malls ran at half capacity when they should have been bursting at the seams. But the same mood did not seem to reflect in the fireworks department. They were there, in all their noisy glory. Well, maybe a little less than previous years but that probably was more due to the strict timelines imposed than anything else. I guess we as a nation like to be noisy.

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Naman - Paintings on Shree Ganesh

Last Sunday I went to see an exhibition of paintings at the Jehangir Art Gallery by Milind Phadke, a veteran artist from Pune. On exhibit were a series of 'Ganesha' paintings which featured fine detailing and interesting textures, something which has been a typical feature of his work. It is this classic, original style that has drawn art-lovers to his work over the last four decades. In this series Ganesha has been portrayed in various 'Swawrupas' within a beautifully composed decorative space. This series depicts a personal encounter with the different moods of the lord. These are images of innocence, peace and tranquility.There are shlokas that have been added in the background using calligraphy. These shlokas sing the praise of Ganesha describing the beauty of his handsome 'roopa', his ornaments, his attire, his nature as a warrior, as a destroyer or obstacles and calamities. The paintings on the whole blend spiritual and ornamental forms to invoke a sense of peace in the beholder. There is a vibrant verve and energy that you can feel as you view the paintings.

Milind Phadke was born on the 20th of February, 1951 at Pune. he has a Govt. Diploma in Applied Art, an M.A (Socio) from the University of Pune and a Diploma in Business Management. He is working with Abhinav Kala Mahavidyalaya Pune as a lecturer. He has had one man shows in many prominent art galleries in Pune,Mumbai and Bangalore as well as many art galleries overseas. He has many awards for Painting, Graphic Design, Advertising, Public Welfare and Copywriting. He has been honored with a State Award by the Dept. of Health Education, Govt. of Maharashtra and with a State Award for Best Teacher: Fine Art Colleges, Directorate of Art, Maharashtra State. His collections are featured in many prominent Institutions, Government agencies and Corporate houses as well as private galleries.

You can view some of his work here.

Sunday, July 13, 2008

The Apple iPhone 3G

It's been a long, leak-filled wait, but Apple finally took the wraps off its 3G iPhone. Thinner edges, full plastic back, flush headphone jack, and the iPhone 2.0 firmware -- Apple's taking a lot of the criticisms to heart from the first time around.

Read the full article here...

Saturday, July 05, 2008

The Mumbai Metro

Work on the first phase of the Mumbai Metro is on. The road in front of the 7 Bungalows bus terminus and the line of little eating places like Pop Tates etc. is all dug up.

The Mumbai Metro project contract for the first phase was won by a Consortium led by Reliance Energy Ltd (REL) of the Anil Dhirubhai Ambani Group. This project is being executed by REL and the Mumbai Metropolitan Region Development Authority (MMRDA). A French company Connex and the Hong Kong MRT are the other members of the consortium and they are providing the technical know how.

The first phase is going to cover the Versova-Andheri-Ghatkopar corridor and will cover a distance of 11 kms. This work is planned to be completed by 2009. This route will have 12 stations - Versova, D.N. Nagar, Azad Nagar, Andheri, Western Express Highway, Chakala, Airport, Marol Naka, Saki Naka, Subhash Nagar, Asalpha Road and Ghatkopar. The commuting time between Versova and Ghatkopar will be 21 minutes. Today the commuting time between these two points is at least 70 minutes.

The second line will connect Charkop to Mankhurd via Bandra and bids for this line have already been invited. The third line of the project connecting Cobaba to Mahim is expected to be totally underground.

Mumbai may be the first Indian city to have a single fare structure for transport. Globally, cities like London, New York and Singapore already have such a system in operation. The authorities plan to create a sub-system for road, rail, waterways, and air transportation, which will include rail network, parking lots, private and public modes of transport. The single fare structure will make traveling in the city a bit convenient as commuters would not need to buy separate tickets for different modes of transport.

Thursday, July 03, 2008

The Telecom Infrastructure in India

The following is based on facts and figures reported in the latest report of the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India and the India Infrastructure Report 2008.

Recent findings suggest that Indian Telecom is the fastest growing telecom sector in the world, ahead of even China. In terms of user base, India is now third behind China and the US. India has a total user base of around 300 million as of quarter ending March 2008. The total wireless subscriber base is 261.07 million as of 31st March 2008. The wire line segment subscriber base stood at 39.25 million in quarter ending March 2008. There are 11.09 million internet subscribers as of March 2008. Besides this, there are 66.09 million wireless data subscribers at the end of March 2008 who are capable of accessing data services including internet through mobile handsets. Total broadband connections in the country have reached 3.87 million by March-end.

Given the pace of growth and reaching the target of 250 million Telecom users by the end of 2007, the government has set a target of 500 million subscribers by 2010.

What appears to be a stumbling block for even more rapid progress in terms of growing the user base and services is the availability of spectrum or radio frequency.

3G technology services will allow simultaneous transfer of both voice data (a telephone call) and non-voice data (such as downloading information). Almost all telecom majors such as Bharati Airtel, BSNL, Vodafone-Essar, Reliance Communications, and Tata Teleservices have carried out trial runs of 3G applications and services. The pilots included testing of all high-speed internet applications, next generation gaming, video, and wireless streaming. They also have processes in place for seamless migration of all value-added services to the 3G space from the current 2G networks.

All are awaiting the allotment of radio frequency (also called spectrum) from the government to launch 3G services in India. And why does this seem to be a problem? The reason that the rollout of 3G services is an issue seems to be owing to the scarcity of spectrum availability amidst the many users who need the spectrum. In addition, allocation of spectrum for 3G carries several trade policy and international bilateral implications and this involves a long political process. An additional controversy has centered on whether global companies should be allowed to bid or not.

The use of new technologies can increase the efficiency of spectrum usage four to five times. TRAI’s new criteria indicate that even with the initial allocation of 6.2 MHz in GSM and 3.75 MHz in CDMA, the addressable subscriber base can be doubled across all service areas. GSM players maintain that the scarcity of spectrum cannot sustain and the application of new technology will adversely affect existing investments, hence the incumbent service providers would like to delay it as long as possible.

Then there is the question of vacation of radio spectrum for mobile services. Sharp differences have arisen across ministries over vacation of radio spectrum for mobile services. As per the proposal worked out by the Wireless Planning and Co-ordination (WPC), defence forces are expected to release 42.5 MHz once the first phase of optical fibre cable project is completed. The Group of Ministers, which was set up for the vacation of spectrum from the defence services for the need of mobile operators, is of the opinion that at present the spectrum for the growth of existing 2G services is more important than the planned 3G services. The defence services and the DoT have been looking at vacation of around 25 MHz of 2G spectrum as well as well as around 15 MHz of 3G spectrum for the mobile operators. In addition the Department of Telecom and the Defence Ministry are working out a compromise formula that would make available additional spectrum of up to 55 MHz in three phases by mid 2008. As part of the deal being worked out by the two sides, the DoT will agree to lay an optical fibre cable for the army and navy also at its own cost. Earlier, the DoT had made plans to set up a cable system only for the Air Force. WPC is also negotiating with the Department of Space for vacating radio frequency for broadband services.

State owned telecom firms, BSNL, and MTNL, will get 3G spectrum quota as per the recommendations of an internal committee of Dot. What seems unlikely is that DoT will invite overseas companies to bid for 3G license just yet. This could be because the foreign players have deep pockets and they can bid very high for the 3G spectrum.

The telecom sector at present has to put up with various taxes, charges and fees. The government has decided to constitute a committee to design a unified and single levy for the telecom sector. Telecom operators have been urging the Department of Telecom to bring down all levies imposed by the central government on the operators to 6 per cent of their annual revenues. Currently, telecom operators pay between 6 and 10 percent of their annual revenues as licence fees. Besides this, they also pay spectrum charges, service tax, and other local taxes such as octroi and stamp duties to various state governments. While the levies charged by the state government may not be tampered with, the operators want that all levies and duties being charged by the Central Government should be replaced by a single levy that is not more than 6 per cent of their annual revenues. If this is done, then even if the charges were brought down to 6 per cent, the government would not lose any revenue due to growth in the operator’s revenues.

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Flying into Bengaluru

For frequent visitors, flying into Bengaluru International Airport can be slightly disorienting if you havent been keeping yourself updated on current affairs, happenings and things. If you are one of those who reads the newspaper everyday, or watches the news on TV regularly or, if you happen to be an online person and shun both of the aforementioned media and keep yourself updated peering at blogs/news sites/etc online, then you would know. But if you are one of those who do none of the above and are blissfully unaware of the happenings happening around you, then you will be quite baffled if you fly into Bengaluru today. For, sometime during the last month or so, while you were sleeping, they went and shifted the airport. They took it from where it was, bang in the middle of the city and placed it in the middle of nowhere halfway to the city of Hyderabad.

So as you come in to land, theres none of the familiar landmarks, buildings, roads etc coming up at you. Instead theres open land. Thousands of open land all around with a road snaking off somewhere into the distance. Then you land, and as you are parked you notice theres enough space to park thousands of planes. Theres many many aerobridges. Walking into the terminal, theres lots of space. Its a good feeling. Big helpful signs everywhere and the help counters helpfully informing you of the taxi service and the bus service that will take you into the city. You also have the third option of taking a cab to Hyderabad and taking an overnight train from there into the city.

Coming out of the airport, the first thing you see is a suitcase. It is a BIG suitcase. Big like in Really Very Big. Its like a building standing there in front of you. Its the kind of suitcase you would pack if you knew you were going to be going away somewhere for the rest of your life. And taking your entire family, friends and other animals along. And you would still have space left over to pack gifts for all the people in the next town you were going to go to.

The buses are well organized. You have the airconditioned ones and the non-airconditioned ones - all taking you to various parts of the city. So all you need to do is get on and doze off for the next couple of hours until you reach wherever you need to get off. Of course if you are going straight to Electronics City, you might be better off flying to Chennai and driving down from there.

Coming back to that big bag, for sure this is one bag that will never get lost on the flight. It may get intentionally abandoned though - thats probably what happened to this one.. someone getting off a flight probably had to leave it outside the airport because no cab or bus would take it on....

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

What's beyond Plan B?

Have you ever wondered why there is always only a Plan B? Why not a Plan C, D, E or more? Says a lot about the confidence mankind reposes in itself. I will never need more than a Plan B. Whatever needs to happen will well be taken care of by Plan A, or worst case, if that dont happen, then plan B will see me through. No one, not you, not me, not the fat pig on a farm somewhere in distant Ireland, ever think beyond a Plan B. Ever wonder why not? Because we as a race collectively are a very smart, highly intelligent and extremely capable race absolutely able to handle whatever it is we need to handle, address or achieve with the help of at the most 2 plans. Hence Plan A, which most of the time is all that is required, and sometimes, when in a moment of temporary insanity or acute disorientation we lose our bearings, we need to fall back on plan B. But thats it. Beyond that we do not need anything else. Beyond Plan B, the frontiers of our knowledge, as we know it, end. Beyond that there is nothing. And nothing is something we do not want to have anything to do with. So, there you have it. Plan B is where it all ends. At least as far as we as a collective race seem to know. There may exist a plan C, D or more, but those having had those and had the opportunity of using those are a very rare breed. Because they must be either very dead or wandering the other world as some vague astral bodies capable of communicating only with those operating on similar frequencies. And from them there is very little that we will learn. So, for now, and for some time into the foreseeable future, Plan B it is going to be. That smart, deep thinking, highly intelligent fallback mechanism used by you, me and those fat pigs on a farm somewhere in distant Ireland.

Wednesday, May 28, 2008

Those wonderful ads

Seriously, do they think we are idiots? The ones who come up with all those goofy ads - the ones that make you want to tear your hair out or inflict great amounts of damage around you – you know the ones I’m talking about. You would have to think really long and hard to come up with a reasonable explanation for all those ridiculous promotions polluting the environment. Then of course it becomes crystal clear to you in an inspired “Understanding All Marketing Fundamentals Everywhere” moment and you attribute it all to brand communication, positioning, placement, identification, demographics, behavior and socio-economic targeting, unique selling propositions among a host of other such academic explanations (because that is what the learned ones would do). OK. So if that’s the truth, then that’s the truth. And who am I, an unlearned, marketing-fundamentals-challenged ignoramus, to challenge such a truth? Having accepted that as the basis for giving free license to advertising professionals everywhere to promote brands whichever way they see professionally fit, lets for the moment go back to our opening statement: Seriously, do they think we are idiots?

The answer is ‘Yes’. Well, to be fair, it’s more like they couldn’t care less. For, you don’t matter. Seriously, if you question any aspect of any concept presented in any manner, you automatically are no longer part of the “target group” and if you are not part of that group then your opinion will have as much impact as a fart in a thunderstorm. And opting out of such a group by questioning the sanity of such branding again will have as much impact as the same fart in a thunderstorm. If you don’t believe me, look around you and see how many people walk this planet. We are talking HUGE numbers here. You, I and a thousand others vigorously shaking our heads in disbelief and rolling about on the floor laughing will have as much impact as….you get the picture.

So, as you can see, it doesn’t matter what you and I think. For every you and I, there is a million and two out there who think otherwise. And THAT’S who they are after. As long as they have their goofy undivided attention they don’t give a rat’s ass what you and I think. And you and I can roll on the floor laughing till the cows come home, those goofy ads will continue to pollute the environment around you.

From every channel on every TV set, from every station on every radio, from every billboard on every street, from inside of every page in every magazine and from every shadowy corner you can think off, they will leap out at you and violate your sensibilities in the foulest way imaginable. And if you don’t believe me or have not been subject to this phenomenon then you must live on Mars. To have had the good fortune of not having had goofy ads shower you every third second of your existence, you must be truly blessed - or live on Mars, as the case may be.

But then again this is how the cosmos functions – at least in our corner of the universe. And as long as this is how equations get solved in the larger scheme of things, I, the unlearned, marketing-fundamentals-challenged ignoramus, shall stay away from the scholarly analysis of the existence of goofy ads every where and get on with less complicated pursuits in life.

So, if there be others out there like me...., join in ….and one…and a two….and a three….……

Whitu whitu face dekhe
Dilwa beating fast sasura chance maaare re
Oh Very Happy in my heart Dil Dance maaare re
Dance maaare, dance maaare dil yeh dance maaaare re….


Wednesday, May 14, 2008

Non-linear Disambiguation of Dimensionally Diverse Perspectives

The following is a work of fiction. All references to people, states of mind and theories contained therein are a by-product of the author's regular thought process which include random ramblings proceeding from a freewheelin' brain and any resemblence to any persons living, dead or in any ambiguous state, is not intended and purely coincidental. The references to pony-tails, however, are not.

Gross, Ketchhup et al[1] laid the groundwork for the formalization of the definition of perspective ambiguity. In the early part of their work they dwell at length on the assumptions that lead to their version of the definition. In the later part of their work they dwell at length on how those assumptions do not entirely hold thereby leading to the removal of large parts of the definition. With the result that this work offers a dangling definition affording a tilted view of ambiguity resulting in a perspective that is hard to stomach.

Bugg, Lows, Leech and Meng[2] build on this set of assumptions removing large amounts of ambiguity thereby affording a cleaner view of the underlying assumptions that lead to the definition. The only problem with this is that in the process of disambiguation they proceed to remove large amounts of the ambiguity also and end up with a perfectly sanitized definition for deviant behavior in cats which no longer applies to perspective ambiguity whichever way you look at it.

Rastogi, Ganguly, Siddappa and Muthukrishnan [3] proposed an approach for formalizing a definition starting with the basic assumptions that lie behind Darwin’s Theory of Evolution. Although this affords an extremely interesting perspective on the cross influences of unrelated theories on each other, it does little to further the cause of research in this particular area.

As is evident from the observations recorded above, there is very little relevant reference work available for research work in the area of proposing formal approaches to arriving at a definition for a Non-linear Disambiguation of Dimensionally Diversified Perspectives. So here is what I decided to do. Dump all plans for arriving at a formal definition and wing it.

To start with, here is some perspective to think about. Take a good hard look at yourself in a mirror after you are plastered – say a good 7 to 8 drinks down should do nicely for a start. Then as you stare hard at yourself in the mirror, you pose your question to the face in the mirror. Don’t wait for an answer. There will be none forthcoming. Come back after a couple of drinks and listen to the answer to the question you had posed earlier. After having listened to the answer, if you can relate it with the question that you had posed earlier and in the process make sense of the question and the answer as they relate to each other – then that, my friend, is perspective. Put another way, it is being able to relate entities that are spread across dimensions of time, space and sense of identity.

The ability to comprehend with absolute clarity complex relationships between entities with shifting identities, in itself an art, and further being able to do it, while dealing with the ambiguities spanning dimensions, is known as non-linear disambiguation of dimensionally diverse perspectives.

Maybe it’s called something else but I like to call it that.

The ability to define relationships spanning radically differing contexts constitutes what your everyday right-brained dude terms ‘Creativity’. It is not, as the same dude thinks, the ability to come up with a few smartass lines for a TV/radio commercial or splotch up an abstract and label it ‘My Conscience Inverted’. That, my friend, is just that - a splotch on the conscience of any right-minded individual, with or without a conscience, inverted or otherwise – and there is nothing ambiguous about that.

Dumbing it down a bit, creativity, as I see it, is the ability to take two totally unconnected entities and draw a connection between them. My friend the Graphic Designer disagrees, and fails to see any connection between me and my definition. Now getting him to see the connection would amount to being really creative. But this is not about him so we will leave him and his pony-tail to figure out the connection of one with the other and stay on the topic on hand.

A little mental exercise for you – consider two items – a green pea and the latest bollywood film that would have opened at the box office. If you were to say that the film was made by a bunch of people with the IQ of a green pea, then you would be on your way to creative satisfaction. Staying on the same topic and drawing further connections would get your creative juices flowing fairly freely. You get the idea. You could exercise your mind and soon you would be a fountain of creativity with the juices flowing on a production scale. Hell, you could set up a bottling plant and market your creative juices. The brand name could come from some outsourced agency, who would think up the name in an inspired moment of juice making. All of which will not be possible if you were not to give them a brief and the freedom to go innovate in the first place. That then becomes cooperative creativity. Of course the franchises will step in and find value-add options that go with the bottled stuff – now you are looking beyond the cooperative and moving onto collaborative turf. Find an overseas market and you are progressing nicely into the global. And to think it can all begin with a humble green pea and a stupid bollywood film. Which lets us conclude that almost anything and everything can be a source of great inspiration.

So there you have it. My submission on Creativity and Non-linear Disambiguation of Dimensionally Diverse Perspectives. And if it doesn’t agree with the pony-tails out there, well, as the man said, to each his own. And I am sure there is nothing ambiguous about that.


[1]Gross, Manuel; Ketchhup, Bruno; Abrams, Kasturi Peter (1969). ‘Birds of A Feather: Social Analysis in the Developing World'. Vol. 4.

[2]Bugg, Manolo; Lows, Utpatan; Leech, Keeda and Meng, Ming (1978) 'What, Where, Who, Why? Pertinence in a Mixed-Up World'.

[3]Raman, Jignes; Ganguly, Jignes; Siddappa, Jignes; Muthukrishnan, Jignes (1996) 'Hum Sab Ek Hai: Cross-referential Identity Differentiation'

Note: The above is a work of fiction. All references to people, states of mind and theories contained therein are a by-product of the author's regular thought process and any resemblence to any persons living, dead or in any ambiguous state, is not intended and purely coincidental. The references to pony-tails, however, are not.

Wednesday, May 07, 2008

some lines

"Oh, the hours I've spent inside the Coliseum,
Dodging lions and wastin' time.
Oh, those mighty kings of the jungle, I could hardly stand to see 'em,
Yes, it sure has been a long, hard climb.
Train wheels runnin' through the back of my memory,
When I ran on the hilltop following a pack of wild geese.
Someday, everything is gonna be smooth like a rhapsody
When I paint my masterpiece."

- from When I Paint My Masterpiece by Bob Dylan

Those Early Wickets...

Whats the deal with the strategy of picking up a few early wickets? Though not a deranged fan of the game of cricket, I do enjoy the game in moderation, watching matches on TV and not really losing sleep over the outcome. But be as it may, I cant for the life of me understand one line that keeps popping up with great regularity no matter which match on which channel playing which teams I watch. Its the response to the inevitable question posed by the commentators to (usually) the captains of the teams, which is 'what would your strategy be for this game' - the inevitable response, among others lines, features "we'll be looking to picking up a few early wickets". Now. I ask you. Is that strategy? I mean, who, no matter which part of which country they play cricket in, would NOT be looking to pick up a few early wickets? A few early wickets? I would think it would be more like many early wickets, if not all early wickets. Thats not strategy. Thats a wish. Thats an ideal. Thats heaven. I am captain of a team, what I would want to do is I would want to go in there and hope to pick up ALL wickets early - preferably as early as midway through the second over. So I could go in knock off the required runs and settle down to a leisurely evening watching some of my favourite movies with a glass of my favourite beer.

So as you can see I am many confused with this line I keep hearing over and over again. So if there are any kindly souls out there with a take on this, and I am sure there must be many, please feel free to enlighten this dumb soul as to this particular strategy that seems to have completely escaped my comprehensive capabilities.

Many thanks in advance from one who has just witnessed the Mumbai Indians completely decimate the Rajastan Royals for just over a hundred. Now THAT - that which helped achieve this, whatever you may call it, is what i would call strategy. And the early wickets, just happened to be a result of that.

Tuesday, April 15, 2008

Weekend Movies

There were three movies I watched over the weekend: The Fountain, Hollywoodland and The Pianist.

By far the best of the three was The Pianist directed by Roman Polanski. A very touching portrayal of a Polish Jew's struggle in the Warsaw ghettos during the Nazi occupation and the survival of the spirit. It seems a very personal movie and ranks far out there ahead of other films that have dealt with the same subject.

The Fountain by Darren Aronofsky is a visual experience. It is a fantasy showing three parallel stories spanning a time expanse of at least a thousand years. The stories will confuse you and perhaps leave you lost. Dont worry. Sit back and enjoy the film for what it is - a superb visual treat.

Hollywoodland is based on the true incident in Hollywood in the late 1950s when the actor George Reeves playing Superman on TV apparently committed suicide. It looks into his life and the possible circumstances leading upto the event. Although it is based on this incident there is a parallel story revolving around the private detective (who is fictional) who goes through a process of discovery while investigating the case. Interesting if you like period movies.

Thursday, April 10, 2008


"I must love what I destroy and destroy the thing I love"

- Sting from Moon Over Bourbon Street

Friday, March 28, 2008

Vague In Vogue

"For the benefit of Mr. Jones, we shall be delightfully vague, till such time that we begin to appear, to all intents and purpose, vaguely delightful. And look to those who are so good with words at keeping things vague. For it is sooner now, than later, that we will need that vagueness to keep from being blinded by all the clarity around us."

- Me (while examining the ambiguities in the larger scheme of things)