World of India!: February 2007 e

World of India!

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Press Information Bureau- Govt. of India web site blooper

Monday, February 26, 2007 Digg! Add to Technorati Favorites

See the headline on the centre of the page? No its not in Chinese - its just unintelligible gibberish. Welcome to the homepage of the Press Information bureau - Govt. of India !

Maybe, just maybe the web sites of Indian corporates are better....

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Hi5, Fark,Slide,Hot or Not?, Plenty of fish, Suicide Girls - what makes them tick?

Saturday, February 24, 2007 Digg! Add to Technorati Favorites
Some more good stuff from Guy Kawasaki. In this post, he interviews 6 successful entrepreneurs in the online space and they shatter some widely held beliefs about how businesses are born and run.

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Jetblue apologises

Friday, February 23, 2007 Digg! Add to Technorati Favorites
JetBlue, a U.S based airline, is having a torrid time. Thousands of people were stranded ,due to an operational fracas, some of them celebrities (like Tom Peters) and they were not a happy lot. Tom wrote a scathing attack on Jet Blue on his blog.
Jet Blues CEO however wrote a contrite "sorry' letter to is customers and frankly, its a nice one. Whether it nice enough for customers to fly back with Jet Blue- only time will tell.

I can recall a similar incident where a company from India failed big time.
ONGC during its mega IPO messed up with its allotment process (or rather its registrar -MCS- did) and played havoc with the money of thousands of people (including me). I dont recall anyone apologising to me for holding my money with them without interest for months : (

But then ONGC never has to fight to get customers to survive....

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Hum and search your favoutire tune with Midomi

Wednesday, February 21, 2007 Digg! Add to Technorati Favorites
www.midomi.com is the ultimate music search tool because it is powered by your voice. Sing, hum, or whistle to instantly find your favorite music and connect with a community that shares your musical interests.

I tried to hunt
'Sex Machine' by James Brown and guess what? - it works !

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Eklavya - not worth your hard earned money

Sunday, February 18, 2007 Digg! Add to Technorati Favorites
I had the misfortune of watching 'Eklavya' - the latest Amitabh Bacchan starrer. The movie is not so bad as to use the word 'misfortune', but the reason I used it is the money paid v/s value received equation.

Watching a movie these days in a multiplex has become a Rs.1000/- affair for a couple. The tickets cost us Rs.225 each, plus coffee, plus taxi fare and we were at the end of a thousand bucks before we realized it. A few years back, the same movie experience would not have cost more than Rs.300-400. Anyone who says inflation is a mere 6% must be joking.

Was Eklavya worth spending such serious cash? Not by a long rope.

The story in brief: Bacchan is the loyal guard of a royal household. Boman Iraani is the King and Sharmila Tagore the queen. Saif and Raima are their children. The queen dies (murdered by Boman after being enraged that Sharmila keep on mouthing Baccchans name on her death bed) . Through her letter Saif learns that Baacchan is his and Raima's true father. Boman Iraani plans to murder Bacchan, but Saif decides to kill the king to avoid that and save his real father. Bacchan is in the dark of this intrigue and kills the Kings brother and his son, after learning that killed the King. Through them he learn that they killed the King on Saif's orders and confronts Saif. The ending is a let down with Saif admitting to his crime and inviting Baccchan (Eklavya) to complete his 'Dharma' and kill him but Bacchan melts down and everyone lives happily ever after.Hush !

I should have realized the movie would be flawed the minute I heard Viddhu Vinod Chopra bragging about how he spent 8 months just visualizing how Bacchan's beard would look in the film. Its apparent that Chopra has spent all this time visualizing the look , feel and sound of the film- with the result that every frame, every detail looks and sounds good. If Chopra could have helped it, he would also have used technology to spray the smell of the desert in the theatre. Just a few days ago, I saw a report of how a phirang director served the audience food which would heighten the mood of his film at different points of his film. I am pretty sure the film was the pits, if the director felt the need to take the support of good food to enhance the mood of his film. If Chopra could have he would have done this too.

But in the process, the film has lost its soul- the screenplay and its characters. Not that the story line is weak, but the dialogues are so contrived and wishy washy that you are never really into the film and the characters. The aesthetics of the film hold your attention and your breath so much, that you are left too breathless to get into the skin of the characters.

Chopra has indulged himself thoroughly. Count the number of time drops of various shapes and sizes - from blood to water to sweat, fall while the camera dutifully captures not just the movement but also the sound. No opportunity is lost to show digitally enhanced sunsets and the ancient palace and the desert scenery soaked in them. Other characters of the film include wonderful period clothes,a vintage car, sundry knick knacks like the royal seal, handmade stationary and such like. You often end up feeling that the scene was shot to capture these aesthetics rather than the scene itself. The sound effects are amazing. The sound of all kinds of drops, flags fluttering, knives flying around...the phirang technicians hired for the job by Chopra have done what they were paid for. But the characters themselves slip away like water on top of a leaf in the process. The only exception is Boman Iraani who has outshone everyone including Bacchan by leagues. His portrayal of the insecure and unhappy King is worth applauding. Chopra would have done well to gift Iraani the Rolls Royce that he gifted Baccchan. The rest of the crew has done a ok job, except Raima Sen, who is laughable throughout (the curls of her hair falling down the side of her face have received as much attention as Bacchan's beard). Watch her flying the kite on top of the terrace and you wonder what she is upto.

One certainly expected more substance from Chopra, considering that he has produced the likes of Munnabhai MBBS and directed Parinda earlier. Films which hardly had any wizardry but which still held the audience because of the direction and screenplay.

For those of you who still want to watch Bacchan in Eklavya- watch it on a DVD and save yourselves the 1000 bucks.

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Don't worry, be Happy !

Friday, February 16, 2007 Digg! Add to Technorati Favorites
Guy Kawasaki, celebrated venture capitalist, blogger and most of all a wonderfully practical guy ( his blog tag line is 'a practical blog for impractical people) has linked to a map produced by Adrian White of the University of Leicester.

The map,essentially tries to provide a graphical representation of the state of happiness of people across the world. The study generates data from well respected sources (like the CIA and the U.N., incidentally the prime destroyers of happiness worldwide ! lol). But having said that, its a useful (however imperfect it might be) representation of happiness - in pursuit of which , after all, the world goes round.

I am happy that 'Gross National happiness' as a developmental indicator is gaining currency more and more in the lexicon of thought leaders wordwide. This concept is the brainchild of Bhutan King Jigme Sigme Wang Chuk and it is also for this reason I am happy to see Bhutan ranking a very respectable no.8 in the league of nations, on the happiness index.

And India? Wyaaa ssssss...........a lowly lowly 125 ! Really we must work harder to become happier,folks - wat? : )

Generally speaking, there seems to be a positive co-relation between happiness and per capita income of the countries.

Whoever said money can't buy happiness must be a real sore looser : )

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Shivraj Patil, Mumbai Police and the NSA - will the real idiot please stand up?

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Terrorists operating in big cities: Patil ! Screams the headline from Rediff.com. The report quoted Patil as saying- "Terrorists are sneaking into big cities and operating clandestinely. They have been making their plans by hiding in the cities and will continue to do it".

Oooh ! Aaahh! Breaking news, saar! After having lived in the shadow of terror for two decades or more, and hundreds of bomb blasts altogether in almost all of our major cities, we Indians could NEVER have guessed that terrorists are "sneaking" into our cities and operating "clandestinely". This is such terrific intelligence our honourable Home Minister has been having in his heart, Saar! Just too much great, I am calling you.

Then there is our National security advisor who informs one day that "that some fictitious companies in stock markets of Mumbai and Chennai have been traced to terrorist groups". Now at least this is information of some use. But Mr. Narayanan gave us the bad news and shut up behind the wall of secrecy. Were we supposed to infer that stock markets are bad and we should close them down because terrorists are using them? Are we to infer that these groups have been caught or shut down, since the NSA was so openly talking about them in the media? What for God's sake is the objective of these haphazard remarks? A few months back the same NSA went on to talk about how dangerous it is to open infrastructure and telecom sector to our national security. Pray, if that is so, how are other countries accomplishing to be secure and also reform these sectors?

The babus and some ministers have become experts at diagnosing problems without suggesting a pill to cure the disease.Its time that they stop being alarmist and find solutions than offer cryptic remarks which are being interpreted by many as anti- reform and at worst alarm the entire general population.

Frankly I don't mind even them being anti-reform, provided they have a point of view and express it coherently and clearly. The way these guys talk, one would have to decode what they want to say using the Param super computer. Really, its about time these fudddy duddies belonging to the 60's and 70's were summarily replaced with some one younger and more in tune with the times.

Think I am done with govt. officials media communication bloopers for one day? Wrong.

Just a few days ago there was this hilarious news item where the Mumbai police explained on NDTV, as to how they are posting money orders and sundry financial instruments to the known addresses of absconders, and catching them when they come to collect the booty. It seems 10-15 absconders have been caught till now. The Mumbai Police it seems don't believe criminals watch NDTV news. Next thing you know they will begin to wonder why they are suddenly hitting a blank wall, come up with another super brilliant idea - and yes, then the mandatory press interview.

Harhar ! Yahi to maar kha gaya India : )


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Incredible India - Best of Flickr pics (3)

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Cut to Shah Rukh Khan's message to the youth standing next to a 'Kaun Banega Crorepati poster' - the headline on Rediff said "Some times ideals have to take a back seat"!

Hmm...

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Valentines day ! Dont read this great Beer joke : )

Wednesday, February 14, 2007 Digg! Add to Technorati Favorites

Hat tip : Dave

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Superpower India spends billions on war toys while millions suffer

Tuesday, February 13, 2007 Digg! Add to Technorati Favorites
This blog has consistently advocated the futility of our governments obscene defense spend, as not only indefensible considering the endemic poverty that hundreds of millions of our countrymen are reeling under, but also wholly unnecessary considering the fact that both our neighbours, China and Pakistan, are nuclear capable and hence warfare- whether conventional or nuclear- is just unthinkable. While we suffer from internal strife, suicides of thousands of our farmers, malnutrition(a full 50% of our children suffer from malnutrition), illiteracy and almost a complete lack of public health infrastructure, our Generals, Admirals, Air Marshals and 'strategic experts' think nothing of lobbying for more untold billions being spent on toys on the ground, water and sky.

The recently concluded Bangalore air show was another such disgusting spectacle put up by India trying to show off its imaginary 'superpower' status. Western countries dutifully participated, patted India's back for its rise in the order of nations, while their mouths salivated at the prospect of the biggest air defense order worth 126 fighter planes worth $ 9 billion.

While our politicos and defense personnel partied during the air show, there were some quiet voices though, like Peter Foster of 'The Telegraph' who wondered if this wasn't ever so slightly crazy. Or is it just the two of us ?

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Cadbury chocolates - with worm and salmonella flavours !

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Remember the Cadbury controversy in 2003 when worms were found in its chocolates? Sales plummeted 30% in India. Since then the company went on a brand building spree, recruited Amitabh Bacchan as its brand ambassador (Pappu Pass ho gaya!) and by all accounts, things are hunky dory. Cadbury's comeback is even more praiseworthy (from a marketing standpoint), when one thinks of the pasting Pepsi and Coke continue to receive in the market place. For all the hundreds of crores they have sunk in advertising, the smear of the pesticide controversy,just refuses to be wiped away.

But Cadbury has fallen afoul once again. This time in the U.K. Some of their chocolates have been found to contain salmonella and dozens of people fell ill. Of course its not easy to shake of authorities in a country like the U.K and authorities are all over trying to ensure that the company pays for its mistakes. So far this has cost Cadbury 30 million pounds (and counting).

And to think that I had an almost irresistible urge to go out and buy a dark chocolate while watching 'Chocolat', yesterday night! : )

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Indian companies take on the world - but their web sites suck

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Some times you wonder if a company is serious about doing its business. Or whether it has just grown too big, too fast and now complacent enough, to take success for granted.

Take the web site of a major coffee outlet chain in India. Log on to it and you see- a blank page. Another television and Internet media group runs a web site which it advertised relentlessly on its own TV channel (obviously- free ka maal- who won't have it?). I was trying to log in for a week or ten days after the first adverts started appearing. They had taken a lot of effort in redesigning the site, it was clear. But one could never proceed beyond the first page, without running into a technical error. The site was virtually useless. Most Indian corporate goliaths have web sites whose only objective seems to be to prove that - yes! we also HAVE a web site- should some phoren partner ask. I am sure in 9 times out of 10, the phoren partner would be disgusted at what impression the site gives about the company. Many a times the web site actually do a dis-service to the company, rather than promoting them!

These are hardly isolated examples. Believe you me there are plenty more. Even the well established corporates of India STILL don't get it, that 'E' stands for 'E-Commerce' and not 'Egg', in 2007 .

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Absent minded FBI

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I have always been accused of being absent minded by people I know. I plead guilty. But at least I am in good company!

The U.S Justice dept. inspector general says that The FBI (Federal Bureau of investigation), America's premier interior security agency, looses between three to four laptops- a month ! And he then goes on to say that the FBI is actually doing BETTER compared to its past record. He adds helpfully that the FBI does not know, after loosing these mean machines, whether the laptop lost contained sensitive information or not. Wired News reports -


In a report five years ago, the inspector general said 354 weapons and 317 laptop computers were lost or stolen during a 28-month review.

The new report found that 160 weapons and 160 laptop computers were lost or stolen over a 44-month period.


How's that for steady improvement?

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A Florida fugitive - wrongly sentenced for 50 yrs, on the run and finally - liberated

Monday, February 12, 2007 Digg! Add to Technorati Favorites
Orlando Boquete was sentenced to 50 years for a crime he never committed . He broke out of prison, on the run for 10 yrs till a DNA testing procedure proved his innocence.

The scariest part of the whole story is that DNA testing as a technique had been always available. But according to
Jim Dwyer of the New York Times magazine who wrote this piece on Boquete's story:

"During the 1990s, many prosecutors in Florida, and elsewhere, fiercely resisted DNA testing for people already in prison. Such tests often poked embarrassing holes in the original investigations. After an innocent man died on death row — the prosecutors opposed testing until the man, Frank Lee Smith, was terminally ill — the State Legislature passed a law that explicitly permitted convicts to seek DNA testing, as long as they asked by Oct. 1, 2003."


How many Boquete's has India produced?

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Incredible India - Best of Flickr photographs (2)

Thursday, February 08, 2007 Digg! Add to Technorati Favorites
Any wonder why there are no tigers left any more?


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Sanjay Dutt gets bail and special treatment- once again!

Tuesday, February 06, 2007 Digg! Add to Technorati Favorites
Sanjay Dutt 's bail is extended by one more day, after a string of judgements giving him special treatment. For similar offenses, other accused who merely watch films and don't act in them, have received harsh treatment. NDTV reports one relative of these accused as saying "The justice given to Sanjay Dutt should also be given to other families". I said what media is reporting now, long ago. Sanjay Dutt is being treated with kids gloves by the judiciary.

Will anyone answer why?

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Is India ready to face the challenge of global warming and climate change?

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There are some events which are curve jumping, trend producing, paradigm shifting- call them what you want...just plain revolutionary. Some times such events occur ever so stealthily (would the Iraqis Americans have known how it would impact them when Osama Bin Laden was exiled from Saudi Arabia and decided to start attacking western assets worldwide?). Some times though, these events happen in the glare of the public eye, and yet few understand how deeply it would impact them.

This month, the European commission announced that it would unilaterally cut 20% of its carbon emissions by 2020 and go upto 30%, if the USA moved its ass, on its own emissions. This is not one of those hot air balloon announcements governments routinely come up with. The targets are binding and the EU is going to invest billions of dollars to achieve its goal. This was closely followed by the IPCA (Inter-Govt panel on climate change) report,commissioned by the United Nations, which essentially, sought the opinion of thousands of scientists around the world, to get to the heart of whether or not carbon emissions due to human activity are responsible or not for the spectre of global warming. The scientists unanimously agreed that the answer was a Yes. The mainstream European print and electronic media is awash with stories related to global warming like never before, so much so that these days, nothing other than related stories seems to capture their imagination. Its amply clear that the rhetoric around Global warming is no longer so, that Europeans (and Americans- except the USA Govt, it would seem) have accepted the inevitability of us having to do something tangible about climate change. The European Union in fact has gone as far ahead as terming this ' The Second Industrial revolution'. Now nobody, much less a Pan-govt. body, uses such words lightly.

What would change in our lives?Where to start? Every area of energy generation and industrial production would be impacted fundamentally. Our consumption patterns- what, where and how we eat, drink, travel,wear, live...everything and everyone of us would be impacted.

Yet, it staggers me to know that in India, this has not even registered, forget gauging its true impact. Not that news papers and news channels here did not do their two bits in running these stories. But other than doing the 'needful', no body has bothered to explain how fundamentally our lives could change within the next few years and over many many decades to come.It was a big disappointment, to put it mildly to watch our Indian media caught up with Big Boss, Rakhi Sawant, Abhishek-Aishwarya, KBC with Shahrukh and some such and gloss this over.

India's position on global warming is ambivalent to say the least. While we accept the need to act we are (rightly)putting the onus on developed countries who are by far responsible for Global Warming and would continue to do so going ahead. But having said that, we must also take this up as an opportunity to leap frog technology and avoid the costly mistakes that developed nations have already made. For one we need to move conscious towards sustainable modes of energy production and consumption both industrially as well as individually. This means that, for example, we need to dis-incentivize automobiles running on fossil fuels (Ex: Maruti, Hyundai and the rest) and incentivize those using non-conventional fuels (ex: Maini automobile produced REVA). The TATA project of making cars affordable to every man by selling it at 1 lakh rupees would ruin not just the TATA's (!) but also India and its environment. They need to be stopped, forcibly, if need be. Public transport ought to be encouraged and huge investments are needed to improve it. There would be a need to possibly reduce our dependence on mass farming and slaughter of animals for human consumption, since this is leading to slashing and burning of forests to feed these animals.The NTPC's of the world which rely on fossil fuels ought to be told to move on to nuclear technology and invest in technologies which aim to push emissions deep into the earth's surface instead of releasing them into the atmosphere.Companies like Suzlon which produce non-conventional sources of energy are India's new stars, in this future, and need to be given every helping hand.

This doesn't even scratch the surface of what we truly need to do as a society. Individually, nothing less than a fundamental change in our lifestyles is due or rather- overdue.

Are we warming up to this challenge yet?

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Lights off at the Eiffel tower after the IPCC report on global warming

Friday, February 02, 2007 Digg! Add to Technorati Favorites
The Shows over at the EIFFEL TOWER, which consumes 7.5 million watts of energy/yr, albeit only symbolically for five minutes (this pic was not shot at the same time), after the United NATIONS released a report finally giving its verdict on whether or not we humans are to blame for global warming and climate change (the verdict was a unequivocal Yes! from thousands of scientists).

Take a closer look at this picture, for this is how it is going to be, if we don't get our act together and turn to a more sustainable developmental model.

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Sachin Tendulkar:Over-rated and over-worshipped ?

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A few years ago it was common to see cricket fans holding posters during matches proclaiming that if cricket was their religion than Sachin Tendulkar was their God.

But now the unthinkable has finally happened. For the first time, post the India-S.Africa tour, people seriously questioned whether Sachin deserved his seat at the table. For the first time, newspaper columnists who never dreamed of questioning Sachin's prowess, wrote long articles analysing whether the Tendulkar era was drawing to an end, or worse, was already a done deal.

One thing is for sure. Sachin Tendular would never join the pantheon of all time greats in the league of Don Bradman and Sunil Gavaskar. This exclusive club belongs to batsmen who, BY THEMSELVES, could snatch victory from the jaws of defeat or at least save the team some face, not JUST IN INDIA, but on any ground in the world. Gavaskar has an average of above 90 runs against the West Indies in the West Indies and that too facing a quality of bowling that is leagues ahead of any pace attack Sachin has ever faced. Bradman,
could demolish any team he wanted, whenever HE chose to.

Sachin? Doubtless he is a great batsman, but NOT an all time great. It is a documented fact that whenever the Indian team needed Sachin during crunch times, Sachin has failed to deliver. Most of his big knocks have happened on Indian grounds in conditions he is well used to. This is NOT to say, that Tendulkar has never made a big knock abroad against a quality team, of course.But simply that, on balance, he has always been on a weaker wicket abroad, facing quality teams like Australia and Pakistan. His stats back this observation.

Sachin Tendulkar:

Mat I NO Runs HS1 HS2 HS3 Ave 100 50 0
Career 378 369 36 14728 186* 152 146 44.22 41 75 17
At home 127 124 13 5174 186* 146 139 46.61 16 28 4
Away 118 117 8 3799 141 128 127* 34.85 8 18 8

Statssource:www.cricinfo.com

The above stats show the comparision of Sachin's Career summary (batting) against the 'unfiltered' results. They are then compared against Sachin's performance away from home against any team. Sure enough Sachin's average falls from 46.61 at home to a measly 34.85 away from home.

Now look at Ricky Pontings stats:

Mat I N O Runs HS1 HS2 HS3 Ave 100 50 0
Career sum 266 260 31 9670 164 145 141* 42.22 21 57 16
Home 112 110 9 4088 124 123 119 40.47 8 26 8
Away 84 82 13 3268 164 141* 129 47.36 8 19 4

Statssource:www.cricinfo.com

Pontings average actually INCREASES away from home to a splendid 47.

So don't let Tendulkar's crackerfire 100 against the weak West Indies team recently in Baroda, fool you.He can be my god only if he scores at an average of 50 or above in the West Indies in the next World cup and more importantly help the Indian team to victory at least till the Semi-final stage.

If not, Tendulkar would have to resign himself to the ranks of ONE of the great batsmen of the world but certainly not THE all time great.

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How much do Beggars earn in India?

Thursday, February 01, 2007 Digg! Add to Technorati Favorites

Kalyan who runs a popular blog has a good post (Hat tip : P.Anand) which tries to estimate how much beggars earn in Bangalore. He estimates that a beggar on M.G.Road in Bangalore would earn about Rs.24,000/- per month which is a little less that what a highly skilled white collar professional would earn.

Kalyan writes:


"12:09pm: Economics of Begging in Bangalore
Lately, I have been observing the beggars at all the traffic junctions in Bangalore when I'm stuck for a long time in traffic. I've noticed a very important pattern.

At any big traffic junction, the traffic at the signal has to wait anywhere from 120 to 180 seconds these days. A beggar can cover at least 30 vehicles in this time and at least 1 in 5, give the beggars some money. This money these days is anywhere from Rs 1 to Rs 5. I've even seen a guy give out Rs 100 to a beggar.

So at a 3 min traffic light junction, a beggar can make anywhere from Rs 5 to Rs 20. Even if we assume the lower limit, in an hour a beggar makes Rs 5 * 60/3 = Rs 100. If he/she works for 8 hours a day like most of us, he/she will make Rs 800/day.. and that's about Rs 24,000 / month.

Now Rs 24,000 / month is lot more money than what most fresh software engineers get paid these days. The beggars don't even have to worry about tax on the money they make.

Who says the money in Bangalore does not trickle down to the poor :)
Current Mood: amused"


While I don't dispute Kalyan's observations, we must still keep in mind the fact that most beggars in India are run by mafia syndicates, who usurp the majority of their earnings.So the 'real' earnings are probably a small fraction of this mind boggling figure. More importantly how many beggars can beg on M.G Road? Only those who are under the 'protection' of the mafia and the police and have 'bought' rights to that particular territory.

And what trials and tribulations do these people have to undergo to earn their keep? Rain, scorching sun, police lathis are the easy part. CNN-IBN recently reported on how the the begging mafia operates in collusion with a network of doctors to chop off healthy limbs of beggars.

Moral of the story? Don't envy your neighbourhood beggar- yet! : )

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