Mahabharata in Sonnets

Mahabharata #2 – The terrible condition

Said Ganga,’O beloved’ marry you I shall surely,
For akin to you, I love you dearly,
But thou shalt never question me, however eagerly,
About my actions and deeds, lest you be filled with fury!
King Shantanu, love struck didn’t think too clearly
Agreed to the condition, judging the consequences poorly
They had a firstborn son, king’s elation was visible plainly
But She drowned the boy, in a manner unbecoming and prickly!
The palace was shocked and in grief, profusely
The King neither swooned nor did he cry, surprisingly
The maidens stood stunned, for their lord acted surprisingly
But Shantanu now understood what the condition implied, surely
The King was normal, but in his heart quite surly,
For it continued for his seven Bharatvanshis, which hurt him severely!
** Bharatvanshis are the descendants of Bharat
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Mahabharata in Sonnets

Mahabharata #1 – The rise of Shantanu

Back into history, a great King there lived,
Bharata the name , his stories to this day relived,
Long after he was gone, his aura survived,
On the banks of Ganga his dynasty thrived!

Shantanu wore Bharata’s blood like a diadem prized,
He ensured peace, with pride the clan brimmed
Father Pratipa and Goddess ganga had a pact long contrived
Of a Shantanu-Ganga alliance when the moment right arrived

Ganga met Shantanu on the river bank, as contrived,
Shantanu spellbound with her allure, asked her, surprised
‘Did you fall from the heavens straight when they rived’
Marry me O dearest he said, with glee his heart jived

She said yes, his joy though was shortlived
On listening her condition , his elation nosedived!

Who was Shantanu?

Shantanu was a great kind , a descendant of Bharata. Shantanu was perhaps the start and the cause of the epic that came to be – the Mahabharata and thats why this above passage is quite important.

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Infographic, Politics, Technology

Can Indian Optimism create newer opportunities

Its been nearly 18 months since PM Modi took the reigns of a then floundering economy spearheaded by ex-PM Manmohan Singh. Despite several shortcomings which are structural in nature related to India, one can definitely visibly see the efforts being made by the Government in various industries. One big example of the same is the PM himself visiting innovative companies of the world like Facebook, Tesla Motors etc during his recent visit to the USA. At some level, transforming India is a massive challenge given these staggering graphs. How do you actually shape the lives of 1 bn people at varied stages of their life and lead them to prosperity? How do you drive 300 mn+ people out of relative poverty and give them hope and vision for a better future? How do you remove the habit of people who have been used to live on Government doles and subsidies and get them to work more diligently? These are problems that are massive in nature but I think, the way the Government is approaching them is quite interesting in itself.

The Tech approach to solve problems – At some level, the mobile resurgence has come at the best time for the Government. PM Modi and his Mann ki Baat has been such a hit that opponents in Bihar actually asked EC for a ban on this program. With Mobile and internet becoming more popularly used by the day, PM Modi’s social media presence has actually helped in propogating their policies and programs faster than any Government has done before. Twitter and Facebook have become massive channels for the Democracy which is good to note.

However, this is just the start. To create momentum is one thing , to sustain it through thick and thin is another. China’s relative slowdown/recession has put focus on India for now as a developing nation, but this won’t last more than 6 months in my opinion. Can India sustain the optimism beyond 18 months well into 2017? That would be the true test of the policy decisions taken by the present Government.

Whats your view – is the current optimism about India truly meaningful? Write below!

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Learning to blog again

Ah! The work and the likes have prevented me from writing regularly over the past couple of years! But it has come to the point where I’d better start writing now or I won’t be able to do that ever! So here I go 🙂

Blogging online has undergone a sea change in today’s Mobile Only world! I would be among those handful & (perhaps unfortunate) few who prefer typing on a desktop rather than simply ‘tumblr’ing or ‘tweeting’ or ‘instagram’ing away! But then thats what I love! I really do love long form writing and at some level its something that pushes me to write that elusive book over and over again. I have promised myself to do that for like three years now but haven’t actually gone on to type over! Perhaps the upcoming NANOWRIMO could be a terrific way to start off on that front!

So, on that subject, perhaps, it makes sense to look at what impact has mobile had over India! So I have used 10 new services over the past month – mostly food startups and for all of them, the mode of discovery and transaction has been mobile.

The services I have used are:

Eatlo, Tinyowl, Tandurust, Roadrunnr (for Mcdonald Delivery), Freshmenu, OneNote, PayUMoney, Practo, Inshorts, JetAirways (the app).

So actually, the transition to mobile has been complete largely in India. In fact that piece was also corroborated by the Big Billion Day, where we saw Flipkart trying to make a huge push to download the app, and later Amazon following suit.

The deal with adopting to the mobile is that most players think its the end of the Web as we know it. I don’t think thats necessarily the end of it. I really think that Web still has a play with most of them using Web very productively in offices. Plus web , the form factor is much better for research. Additionally with Surface and iPad pro promising to deliver a great consumer experience on the larger screen, things could still change. However, as far as India goes, a large majority would use predominantly mobile phones only.

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Infographic, Strategy

Online healthcare startups & how they are trying to scale

To set a bit of context, I was invited by a leading B-school in Mumbai, India to talk about Digital Marketing for their PGDM – Healthcare specialisation. This post is dedicated to the students over there!

I am thankful for the opportunity as it offered me a chance to study the fledgling online healthcare industry more closely. Besides, it also gave me a quick heads up on how the ‘300 pound Gorillas’ of the healthcare industry are trying to use Online as a medium.

Problems being tapped by Online Healthcare startups –

While  doing my research found the following themes around which top healthcare startups are focussing on –

Online healthcare startups in India

Problems being solved by Online Healthcare startups in India

What is particularly curious about these themes are the following facts of the healthcare industry-

  1. Augment, Conquer or Replace 

    Currently the Online space from a healthcare space is in an ‘Augment’ space. Most startups are essentially augmenting existing infrastructure, something similar to what happened in the travel sector in the 2000s

  2. Healthcare industry forces

    Healthcare stands out in a major way because of the skill level of the industry. The doctors have a lot of power in the sector, which is being challenged in two ways –

    • Big Hospital chains trying to make doctors dependent on them
    • Heavy investments needed which makes starting and sustaining smaller hospitals tougher
  3. Supply constrained industry

    At some level, particularly in India, Healthcare has become a tremendously supply constrained industry (supply of new doctors is limited) and will continue to become so. Today, choosing Doctor as a career path implies a long road from an education perspective. Hands on experience is something only a few Government hospitals can adequately provide, which makes any first generation doctor’s life even that bit harder. Given these structural problems, online startups are focussing on the augmentation aspect and rightly so.

  4. Can Online Fit in to today’s realities?

    How will the online industry reshape the balance of power in the Healthcare setup? Can it actually do so over the period of 20 odd years? Can online actually help doctors earn more? These and other questions are coming into play now.

Demand Channelising as an entry strategy

So what have most startups found as a solution to this – The solution is to crack the Demand channelising Problem. Online healthcare startups have a massive opportunity in actually channelising demand. Demand for healthcare is growing and will continue to do so. Is there a play for the Online startups to take up significant marketshare here? Perhaps Yes. This is the place where startups like ZocDoc in US and Practo in India are taking large strides.

Lastly, How should students take advantage of this change?

Well, let me start the lecture series first! Then I shall publish more on this! 

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Business, Infographic, Strategy

Big Data Analytics Trends 2015

Big Data in 2015

Evolution of Big Data from Web 2.0 to the Mobile First Age

Big Data Evolution from 2010 and how it will pan out in 2015

An oft heard conversation around coffee tables –

How can activity metrics in a web execution go down while those on mobile go up for the same experiment? There is something wrong with the data, lets go to the Analytics team and check up!

And thus begins the march to the analytics teams of many professionals. Why that team? Because they are the custodians of something valuable and something that has changed the way companies work in the past 24 months. That something is ‘Big Data’!

Why is Big Data getting “Bigger”

Big data was something that companies started getting comfortable with in 2013. Last year was where Big Data truly started going mainstream with a lot of experiments getting done both on Web and Mobile on the back of Big Data. I have captured all of that and more in the Infographic above. Do check the same and express your views

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A reader published a comment on the previous post on Customer empathy – which I thought was something worth sharing with everyone – so here goes!


“I have been involved in manufacturing and sale of engineering goods for more than three decades in India now. I have certainly learnt that it helps to empathise with your customers to gain their loyalty.

This empathy comes easily so long as it relates to product design, because this actually helps you to improve the utility of your products!

However, it becomes impossible to empathise with customers in commercial matters of price and credit, for the simple reason that such misplaced empathy is the surest way to run your business into the ground at least in India! I mention this because customers in India are by and large not reliable in matters of timely payments.

In short: Technical Empathy? 100% Yes! / Commercial Empathy? 100% No!”


Firstly thanks Uday Sir for the comment. I loved the comment, and am taking the liberty to publish the same on my site as well. I agree with the sentiment and appreciate that it comes through with great experience! The thought however should be around how can all this be circumvented. Can a seemingly commoditized product also be delivered to customers with a fabulous value which is irreplicable. I think that is the challenge, and something that Internet companies are excelling at too!

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A comment on – Customer empathy in India and my response

Business, Entrepreneurship, Technology

Customer empathy – The understated key to win consumers

Customers everywhere!

Everyone in their professional life has their customers. Some have enterprise customers, sales teams have their clientele, some have their bosses and their bosses’ bosses, CEOs have their investors and entrepreneurs have their customers to face up to.

Where it does get interesting is everyone has an opinion about how their customers are wrong, or how they act incomprehensibly, sometimes even a touch ‘madly‘! (Guess I have struck a chord there 🙂 )  But not many think about why their customers behave the way they do. This is precisely what ‘Customer empathy’ is!

Empathy is the experience of understanding another person’s condition from their perspective. You place yourself in their shoes and feel what they are feeling.

Why empathise?

The next logical question in this chain of thought of course is to understand the ‘Why’ of customer empathy. Everyone is great at thinking about their own perspective, targets, benefits, interests etc, at least we presume they are. But, it does take courage and time to get into someone else’s shoes. However doing that definitely puts you at a distinct advantage while dealing with customers. Check up how empathy puts a firm at a distinct advantage with its customers –

Google and customer empathy

A quick example of this is how Google shows its customers search results for the correctly spelled Search term or ‘Did You Mean ________’ when you type an incorrect spelling on Google.

Google customer empathy

How Google shows correctly spelled search term

Google customer empathy

Google’s simple gestures mean a lot for its customers

See what Google did there? Just by a simple (seemingly simple) feature it has saved its customers’ time. This does lead to user retention and delight. No wonder their market share has remained so high all through! So much so that even a decrease of 3% from 78% to 75% becomes news in the US tech circles.

Apple and customer empathy

On that subject, Apple’s products are like live demos of customer empathy! All features on Apple products are goaled to meet one need – solve consumer problems. Look at the finger print sensor on Apple iPhone. They have beautifully solved the consumer need to unlock phone without typing or swiping. The sensor also allows you to download apps, sign in to iTunes and even buy things from iTunes. In the latest iPhone 6, it even enables you to use Apple Pay. Given the massive adoption of Apple products globally, there is no doubt that Apple has won customers by solving their problems elegantly.

Customer empathy starts from you!

Often its easy to shirk off empathy by saying that its an organisational problem and its not my problem. If that is stopping you from being empathetic, then you need to change that as soon as possible! Start understanding your customers, start talking to them. Believe that they behave in the way they do, not to create obstacles for you but since they have no other option. I have tried to bring that change in myself, and so can you! All it needs is a little but conscious effort to understand your people.

PS: Do be empathetic to me as well, and post comments – criticism, praise, whatever! It really does motivate me to write 🙂

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Why do Indians love Youtube

The New Year!

First things first, wishing all the readers a beautiful, challenging and a wish-fulfilling New Year! Whoa! Its already been 7 days since the year has passed. Thanks for reading and hope you do so in 2015 as well!


Youtube – the baap of all TV Channels

Youtube – The Goliath

The biggest trend of 2014 has to be the emergence of Youtube as the biggest TV channel (and much more) of all time! If the entire TV Set top box is an animal, then Youtube is the entire jungle and the entire countryside, from shore to shore – and that is still understating Youtube’s relative size!

What does Youtube mean to its audiences

We were on way to Mahabaleshwar, a top hill station in Maharashtra, when we took a halt 30 KM from Pune. What I saw was quite startling – there were 5 friends at a desk, and they were streaming  Bollywood songs on 3G presumably, and were doing so quite comfortably. It just made me realise that one of the big reasons why 3G is slowly getting a higher adoption is [mobile + video + anytime on] as a package. Youtube has a massive role in this! There used to be a time when loading MP3s on a new mobile phone was an unmissable chore as soon as a mobile was bought! Not anymore though! And the big tipping point for this trend was Youtube!

So whats the big deal with Youtube?

Youtube is everywhere

Literally Youtube is everywhere – desktops, mobiles, tablets, TVs, other websites, apps. blogs, news channels! There is possibly very little in the media world where Youtube isn’t available. Of course thats due to Google and its entire ecosystem of Chrome, Android, Gmail, Gtalk – but you have to accept that Youtube is possibly omnipresent all over the media.

Youtube is accessible

Being available is one thing, being accessible is another. Youtube streaming works – whatever the bandwidth, whatever the device! Of course the streaming quality differs, but Youtube has done a great job with access for users, particularly in India

Youtube is inclusive

Given the range of Youtube’s video collection, Youtube is being used by one and all! While this is obvious and massive, try naming any other video website that is so inclusive, yet captivating apart from Youtube – my guess is you would struggle doing so!

Youtube search

Thanks to the parent company, Youtube search possibly throws up the biggest array of options when it comes to search. For video discoverability, any video creator could not have asked for a better platform.

Youtube creates a buzz

Every big initiative, be it a film, be it an event invariably launches its own Youtube channel and tries to develop its following. Indian elections were fought as much on the ground as on Youtube! Every upcoming movie release is preceeded with a Youtube trailer launch. Youtube is a fantastic place for buzz creation – something that every marketer aspires!

So, marketers, do share your ideas on how you use Youtube! Would be writing a new article about this next by collating your views.

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Audio Books – Should books be heard?

Can books be heard?

Indigo’s on air magazine gives you a lot to learn. One of the most different ‘packages’ on ‘Sale’ on that magazine was from a company called ‘Reado’ about 4 Classic books on Sale – But those weren’t normal books – those were in fact ‘Audiobooks’ . Books that are read to you! While this is fascinating and there are whole companies actually trying this model out – the real question is Do you need AudioBooks in the first place?

Why Audiobooks?

Audible – A recently acquired company by Amazon tells us three reasons why Audiobooks should be used –

Audible on why Audiobooks

Why should Audiobooks be used

So, I am going to give this a shot – Can books really be listened? Can they actually improve productivity? I can relate to the usecase – I haven’t really finished the book I started 4 weeks ago – Predictably Irrational – By Dan Ariely! Let me give this a whiz and get back frankly!

Audio Articles

But one particular use of Audio is without doubt – Audio Articles on a mobile app like ‘Umano’ is really a fantastic experience. I know a lot of savvy pros who use it, and absolutely love it. I haven’t taken their pro subscription , but like to listen to these articles once in a while on 3G or WIFI.

All said and done, the new age Audio media is sort of a reinvention of a very old format – the radio- but delivered to you as a stream , and on demand. While there is hot debate on whether personalised music worked or not, but this new format of audio books and audio articles surely is finding adoption among a niche audience. And, it definitely fascinated me enough to blog about it!

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