Wednesday, October 18, 2006

India's own Eye in the Sky - GPS Navigational System

India's speak of withdrawal from the EU backed Galileo Global Positioning System (GPS) project must have come as a surprise or even evoked concern among most of my peers who have been keeping tabs over the rise of India as a global power.
Understandably so, because the European developed GPS system was supposed to
  1. Provide huge technology prowess to a marching India: The GPS system is expected to be so precise that it can zero in on a vehicle, ship or a herd of cattle and help distinguish and locate objects just 1 meter in resolution. A true "eye-in the-sky", this system has applications for it that lie in many civilian areas with huge commercial potential like route-mapping, speed control and guidance, aid for the elderly and disabled, in justice systems for location of suspects and border controls besides search and rescue operations.
  2. Breakfree from the US backed GPS system: An opportunity to switch from a US military operated GPS that has been opened up for free for commercial use across the world. You don't expect US to keep its GPS system open for the general public in case of a event that threatens its own sovereignty.
However India recently cited security concerns and planned to pull out of a project that has been the cynosure of most European Union (EU) powers as well as India's backdoor neighbour China. The reason put forth were security related. What framework does Galileo GPS system have in place to prevent one country's data from not not falling into another country's hands? India definitely is concerned at this stage given the enormous interest and investment that China is pouring into the essential services in India like infrastructure, telecom, ports.

India however has backup plans just in case the plan to partner with EU based Galileo GPS system falters. One, India is pouring money into GLONASS (Global Navigation Satellite System), the Russian constellation of GPS satellites which Moscow is trying to renew and bring back to life.

The other option that should come as a surprise to most of us, is the fact that India has drawn up board plans and conducted preliminary tests to come up with its own GPS satellite navigation system spanning the globe called GAGAN (GPS Aided GEO Augmented Navigation). At a cost of Rs. 30,000 crore, it will be ISRO's (Indian Space Research Organization) most ambitious project after plans to reach out for moon (Chandryaan project). This would serve more than one purpose as spill offs from this single major milestone would bolster developments in other fields.
  • Underline India's advanced technology provider capability
  • Make India free from dependence on US and European systems
  • Civilian projects would massively benefit from the system ranging from aircraft/ship based navigational systems to extending reach of law enforcement authorities
  • Unlimited flexibility for India's defence forces in their seek and destroy operations
GAGAN if completely deployed and operational by end of 2007 as is being speculated would be a massive leap for India in more than one sphere of progress. Withdrawing from Galileo project does not sound that bad, right now, does it?

Wednesday, October 11, 2006

Google Earth Images Rescue Farmers in India

Farmers in Pen Taluka in the Raigad district of Maharashtra state have produced Google Earth pictures as evidence of their stand in the case currently filed against the Maharashtra government seeking higher compensation for their agricultural lands.

The Maharashtra government had targeted lands in 45 villages of this district to embark on its Maha Mumbai Special Economic Zone (SEZ) project to give industrialization a jump start. During the process of acquiring land, the government claimed that most of the land in the areas surrounding the villages were infertile and and that some parts of it were submerged by salty creek water. This claim, translated to a lower compensation for the farmers.

That's when an activist of the SEZ Hatao Virodh Samiti (Remove SEZ Committee) , Arun Shivkar, logged on to Google Earth. What Google Earth showed were clear high resolution pictures that indicated that most of the land was indeed fertile and actively covered by crop. This single act has also united the farmers in their stand seeking a higher compensation than that being given currently by the state government.

Amazing what technology can do when harnessed for purposes like these. Clearly, Google might not have even envisioned itself as the saviour of these farmers who had been pushed to a corner and appeared to be fighting a losing battle.

Click here to watch the video by CNN-IBN

Monday, October 09, 2006

Online Job Websites Wage War of Words.

India's two biggest online job companies are engaged in a war of words these days. What's the issue of contention? You may not believe me if I say that it is as simple as the size of each of them. Well, it is. and, two of India's biggest online job websites are shouting hoarse about their sizes and why a potential job seeker needs to register with them and not with anybody else. MonsterIndia started off by saying that it has more one-week old resumes in its database than Naukri. "We have got 72,332 resumes versus 67,208 for Naukri (on September 19)", said president and managing director Arun Tadanki.'s Sanjeev Bikhchandani, co-founder and chief executive officer, shot back mentioning that Arun Tadanki had omitted mentioning certain facts in his interview with Business Standard. Claiming to be twice as big as MonsterIndia based on Alexa rankings, he went on to add that a recent on-purpose manipulation of the way new resumes on site are taken into account by MonsterIndia, was the reason behind its false claim.

The online job website has been booming in India given the booming economy. The ongoing war speaks of the enormous pressure that these site owners are under, to attract and retain customers. Statistics, skewed or not skewed, can have a tremendous bearing on the general trend among job seekers to make beeline to one jobsite over the other. That is a pointer on why neither one is taking the other's claim sitting down.

However what's missing is the innovations to garner greater market pie by differentiating oneself from their competitor. Rather than wash dirty linen in public, the two companies might be better off on making hay while the sun shines.

Saturday, October 07, 2006

Blogging to Rev up Traffic to Parent Sites

Blogs are quite a wave these days in India. We had individuals blogging, ladies getting blog power to work for them then celebrities blogging, followed by news channels that started blogging. Now we even have Matrimonial sites blogging. Call it 'riding the wave' or the 'hip-n-hep' factor, matrimonial sites have leveraged blog power and popularity to attract more customers to their core business - hooking up strangers in wedlock.

Bharat Matrimony has started a Relationship blog that it terms as the 'Matrimony Express'. The blog has a set of fixed writers from its panel who blog on a variety of subjects ranging from Etiquette, Grooming, Travel, Romance to exotic topics like Tips to improve one's sex life, customs and rituals, even marriage termination tips. The articles are well written and offer more than decent information on the subject being sought.

How does blogging help the site? Traffic generator to the main site is the obvious answer. With competition hotting up between the various Indian matrimonial sites, blogs would be one more weapon in everybody's armoury. An interesting point not to be missed though is the way Bharat Matrimony has leveraged the interest in its blogs to raise brand awareness among its potential clientele.

Thursday, October 05, 2006

XBox Ad - Microsoft has hit the right note

Microsoft XBox 360 launch in India has been accompanied by a dedicated website launch plus some amazing advertising.

I was surfing Rediff and happened to view this XBox 360 ad that features Akshay Kumar and Yuvraj Singh. Together they pull off the intended message across to the target audience. Even Yuvraj's home village's got the hang of Xbox 360. Nice advertisement. Beautifully done with the village chorusing in at the end to "GAME ON"

With the launch of Yuvraj Singh International Cricket 2007 on Microsoft XBox 360, the company is betting big on the Indian market.

Wednesday, October 04, 2006

India IT News Capsule - Oct 2006, Issue 1

  • ExpressIndia Joins The Blog Movement: The Indian Express Group has launched Express Blogs. By doing so they are the 3rd newspaper group in India to launch blog services for their readers in addition to Indiatimes and NDTV. Employees of the Indian Express Group have kicked things off. Readers can also submit posts. User submitted posts will be moderated to avoid any frivolous posting. Podcasting and webcasting are in the works.
  • India to have indigenous CDMA phone manufacturer: Himachal Futuristic Communications (HFCL) plans to start manufacturing CDMA phones and other mobile devices in April next year. Following a licensing deal announced Monday with Qualcomm, the Delhi-based company plans to make 4 million units in the first year, of which about 3 million will be mobile phones and the rest fixed wireless phones and CDMA modules, such as PC cards for computers.
  • ABN-AMRO call centre to ramp up numbers: ABN Amro Central Enterprise Services (ACES), the BPO arm of ABN Amro Bank, is set to boost headcount to 5,000 by June 2007, across its three locations in Chennai, Mumbai and Delhi. ACES is also planning to set up centers at tier-II cities and State capitals. The Chennai centre has a 1,400-seat facility. In Mumbai, it operates out of two centers with 1,300 seats and plans to add 600-700 seats through a third facility. In Delhi, it has a 600-seat facility
  • World CyberGames held in India: Indiagames recently organized the Indian leg of the World Cyber Games 2006, with Samsung as its main sponsor. The semi-finals and finals were held in Mumbai on the 26th and 27th of September respectively. The games that participants had to deal with were - Counter Strike, Warcraft III, Need for Speed and Fifa Soccer 2006.
  • Yahoo launches Search Marketing in India: Yahoo! India has launched Yahoo! Search Marketing,a new search marketing solution for Indian marketers. This service is targeted at businesses and consumers, allowing them to connect to each other through an advertising model, called Sponsored Search. The Sponsored Search model allows businesses to bid for highly visible placement within the Web results that are served in response to the user’s search for a specific product or service. Yahoo! Search Marketing will also offer content match, allowing for listings on content sites, newsletters, blogs and online publications.

Tuesday, October 03, 2006

Travelling back in Time

Why was I not posting for the last few days? Well, call it "Online information fatigue". Because that was exactly what I suspect I had been suffering from. Stopped blogging, stopped reading blogs, stopped reading news online, restricted Internet usage to only e-mails. Why so? Well, I told you...."Online Information FATIGUE". Yes. You read it right.

I switched to reading actual newspapers that come with news printed in them, for a change. Read the matter written by traditional bloggers, the newspaper columnists. Enjoyed Dilbert on on newsprint rather than on my laptop LCD screen. Solved Sudoku with a pencil rather than my tablet stylus.

In the process, I also discovered how cruel time can be on the traditional media. Time ensures they print what we netizens regard as stale news. No instant gratification on solving the daily crossword cryptic clues. You ought to wait for the next day. No 15 minute self updating stock tickers. You gotta wait for a full 24 hours before the next apprisal on the market health.

However I was also thankful that I did not get distracted by the animated ads doing their jig while I try to concentrate on the thin news column that is broken a few dozen times by another ad or a "Next Page" link. No half naked models swimming around as I read an article on India's stupendous GDP growth. No annoying pop-ups promising you free cursors and free screen-savers every next minute.

You should try it some time and distance yourself from the uber medium that is the Internet for a few days. Go back to experience how it was when we all grew up. A self-imposed trip, back in time, that will leave you enriched anyway. When questioned, you can always say, "Online Information Fatigue". :-)

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