Category Archives: Entrepreneurship

Greed Becomes Indistinguishable From Human Life

greed

Sarvesh Mehrotra in this classic writes how greed is the new God. Read on

I was reading an article today about how technology is the new religion. It explored how people gather at Apple conferences with a sense of anticipation and euphoria at a new product launch, and how a shared world of technology that was common between everyone created a sort of tribe that celebrated the “god” and worshipped together. I believe that is because in today’s world, two fundamental beliefs form the basis of our world-view and lifestyle: first is that there is no continuity to our existence beyond birth and death.  We are born, we die, and that’s it. The second one, which actually in some ways follows from the first, is that only what is experienced through the senses is important and real. Everything else is either overrated, or unimportant, or at least dispensable.

These two fundamental beliefs give rise to the next set of beliefs, some of which are: a human being starts his/her life as a blank slate, and must achieve or become something to make their life a success; a successful life is one in which there are signs of material prosperity and a relatively large ability to possess material things; the aim of life is to make it successful in this manner; problems in life must be resolved through application of the mind; any course of action of decision taken in life can be evaluated through its impact on one’s ability to possess material things; every right/good thing, person, or decision can, must, and should be measured in material terms; failure is a decrease in the ability to possess material things; all available time must be utilized; and so on.

This structure of beliefs then gives rise to a value system, in which we categorize things, situations, decisions, and people as right/wrong, good/bad, etc. which then becomes the basis of our decision-making in everyday life. Examples of thoughts that form this value system are: the creation and consumption of material things is a great way to fill the time available in life; increase in the ability to acquire material things is good and decrease is bad, unless it can later help take a decision that leads to an increase; the best way to solve problems in life is to use the mind’s logical and analytical abilities; anything not perceived by the senses is most likely a hoax or hallucination and therefore not to be trusted; success is good and failure is bad; time spent not working to increase one’s ability to acquire material things is time wasted; and so on.

Living in a world where the belief and value system described above is commonly shared, it is natural that things become our saviours from the uncertainties of life, and anyone who creates great things becomes a hero or god, which is where Apple and Steve Jobs (and a host of others) currently are in popular mindset. And while it is true that things have resolved problems humans have faced for survival on the physical plane, I believe we’ve taken the fascination with things too far at this point because anything that’s not a thing isn’t important anymore. In today’s world for an artist to matter, their art must sell; for a sportsperson to matter, they must win; for a worker to matter, they must bring the greatest profits to their employer; for a parent to matter, they must leave the greatest inheritance for their child; for a partner to matter, they must bring the ability to earn money to the relationship; for a forest to matter, it must be attractive to tourists; for a tree to matter, it must provide wood or fruit or leaves or pulp or sap which can be sold; for an animal to matter, it must be eatable, or have the ability to be a pet, or an attraction in a circus, zoo, or a wildlife sanctuary; for the rain to matter, it must increase the yield  of our farms; for the air to matter, it must provide ventilation in our homes and offices and electricity in our windmills; and for the planet to matter, it must fulfil the unending and ever-increasing greed of its human inhabitants.

Because greed is so common today and percolates and suffuses the entire mental, emotional, and social experience of human existence, it has become indistinguishable from human life. In today’s world, to be human is to be greedy. To be a good human is to be greedy with a little bit of conscience. In today’s philosophy, greed is good and is our saviour. Greed is the definition of modern and the new model of idealness.

However, the negative impact of greed is all around us. Increase in crime, breakdown of relationships, pollution of the planet, ecological disasters like floods and famines, increase in stress and obesity-linked health problems, and poverty are all related to the increase in greed. Ralph Waldo Emerson had once said “Things are in the saddle, and riding mankind”. His prediction has direly come true and is evident in front of us. The solution to the world’s problems lie not in complex technological solutions, but a simple change of human emotional orientation – away from greed and towards compassion as the model of life.

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The Rise of Indian Entrepreneurship: An Outsider’s Perspective

By Ankit Chandra

entrepeneurship

Well to begin with, I do not want to be an outsider on this for long. But be that as it may, I am not involved and hence the topic…

I am excited to see that the bumbling energy in India about entrepreneurship is shining bright.  Bright enough to be visible to me sitting in the US. I think if there has to be a healthy way of life in India, it has to come from the society and not the government. Especially when people are so cynical about what the government does. Anyways its beyond the competence of a few minds to think up the growth strategy for the entire country! Lets the collective wisdom do the evolution of thought. The government should just sit back and create an environment where the society is able to do that.

What makes me this excited is that I can see this simple process in action now:

  1. Common people, with all the humility in the word common, face issues in their daily lives.
  2. Common people hence know what problems irk them more
  3. Common people think of solutions
  4. Common people come up with enterprises to solve the issue
  5. Other common people consume the service and compensate the service/good provider

imagesAnd hence the circle of an issue and its solution was completed, with no visible sign of a government intervention. No matter how big/small the issue is, someone might want to earn a living out of fixing a problem. A win-win, where someone gets to earn money while reducing one issue in the society and everyone moves ahead!

I have begun to see an entrepreneurship fervor in India, which I see here in the US. Anyone who wants to open a startup/enteprise can work hard and open one! and thats a biig change from the erstwhile India. what is more exciting is the nature of startups. Many of these are about things which at best can be thought of as unusual, at least for India…

Here are 3 such startups I think are interesting. This list is in no way complete or exhaustive.

  1. http://www.tulliho.com : This is an awesome idea for people who wanna get Tulli! (drunk) a yelp-esque website catering to people in Indian cities, helping them find good bars and pubs.
  2. http://saleraja.com : Another site catering to the shopping needs of people, where you can get to know about sales going on in different places.
  3. http://www.babyoye.com : this site helps you buy stuff for your new kids. Sort of reinventing the buying experience with the web
  4. http://windchimes.co.in : A social media company for Indian companies to use socail media advertising

None of these companies are using the ‘outsourcing’ model. Its democracy at its best: for the people by the people. They are interesting because what they offer would have been laughed at some years ago. I can just imagine friends, parent just yelling ‘are you out of your mind’ etc etc..

I guess not anymore 🙂

Galaxy Star Review: A Phone Worth Its Price

Samsung-Galaxy-Star-Picture

Considering the price point this could be a game-changer phone in the Indian smartphone segment. An MRP of Rs. 5000 makes this phone the cheapest Android phone from Samsung and unlike others, which run older versions of the OS, this one, runs the latest Jelly Bean Android 4.1. 

Looks like an option doesn’t it? Lets look deep and figure out pros and cons although frankly after taking time out with it we feel that at this price point this is the best you can get.

The Pros: 

Looks: Not bad for the price although nothing extraordinary considering these are the times of big screens. The cute small size though will suit a few who have been complaining of a lack of smartphone, which is small and does not look a giant. Compare it with other local brands and the finish is first class. Samsung has done a good job for the price.

Apps: Android Jelly Bean means good apps and also good games. This is where the phone steals the show. The phone gives decent experience to a user with popular services like Gmail, Google Talk, Facebook, Twitter and WhatsApp. All this at 5k, wow.

Screen And Colors: Its OK. Again at a price point that the phone is positioned at, little can be complained about. It has good touch interface and shows bright colors but the process is fine.

Battery and others: So the battery is decent, around 14 hours on 2g connection. The camera is 2 megapixel and pictures taken are good to be uploaded on your social presence. Bad light images though is not that great and video shoot also could have been better.

The Cons:

No 3g: What? Yes, there is no option for 3g. The phone only operates on 2g and WiFi. This is certainly a let down in this quick communication world where almost everyone is moving from 2g to 3g.

A tad slow: The phone works well for search, Facebook etc. but the moment you demand a little more, the price point and the cheapness there shows up. The phone turns slow and older apps are also flushed out of memory.

Verdict: Good phone on the price point. If you are looking for an affordable android phone with basic usage like mail and social media and have a budget around 5k, this is the device. A little more though from the wallet could get you better phones.

An Idea A Day Keeps A Doctor Away

idea machine

By Ankit Chandra

I think I am obsessed with the idea of creating new ideas. Since my undergrad days, when a mere look at a stepper motor interface made me think of the numerous possibilities there were to make something cool with it, I have been fantasizing about the next cool thing I could make with the basic building blocks I have at hand.

Only with time, my building blocks evolved and became a mix of technology pieces, business concepts and social issues. That’s a great concoction though! But with more information in my head, I guess my idle time goes into thinking about new things to make, new companies to start and a new world to live in.

Most of the times I get out of my day dreaming and move on with my life… but the idea sticks on as a ‘Could have been the next revolution’ Sometimes I have actually realized that someone made a killing out of it 🙂

Here is a small list of a few of those ideas.. These are in no particular order DO NOT judge me on this!

  1. Automatic pet fish feeding system
  2. SaaS based Supply Chain Management system (Patented by IBM I think)
  3. An earth based car positioning, and guiding system, which I proposed, to Reva the electric car company. (They shot it down)
  4. An advertising system based on ring back tones on mobile phones (too late on this one)
  5. A virtual Chai ki Dukaan (Road side tea shop) where people get together and gossip, discuss new ideas or understand the world, Office politics, course curriculum, or their love life. This is still a very potent idea, if the Chai ki Dukaan ambience is successfully implemented.
  6. A local area customer – vendor handshake platform for services. So you can get a local plumber/carpenter/nanny without having to hunt for one.
  7. A concept similar to batchmates.com but much before batchmates.com came about
  8. Setting up a Sabji Mandi in US to promote healthy food
  9. Opening recharge stations for electric cars in India.
  10. Opening a p2p shop rating system, which is accessible through mobile phones.
  11. And a fresh one.. A doctor rating system!!

Well the list is longer… but you get the gist… and yes you are free to implement any of these.. It’s open source now 🙂