Entrepreneurship, Human Resources, Public Issues

Why we need a Liberal Arts School ?

Off the various experiences that I have had during my hostel life, this one in particular is worth sharing. Due to lack of better things to do at 4 in the monring, for good or bad – me and Saurabh – were discussing the biggest HR question – Where do you see yourself 15 years down the line ? “While I was thinking of an answer, Saurabh reacted almost insataneously – I would like to start off with a liberal arts school in India.

“What do you plan to do now ? How do you see your career shaping up – Would you want to join Mckinsey after 4 years – or do you have plans to go to Standford ? I don’t think you would settle for anything less than a harvard” If you have scored a rank in IIT JEE or any other premier entrance exam Medical, Law, Engineering- ( Just that Engineering Entrance has a touch of glamor to itself ) these questions are bound to come to you – from reporters who think students at IIT’s publish a patent every day.Then obviously there are friends_who_would_tag_you_as_god, the aunt who always called you Einstein, the Girl_You_Had_A_Crush on.

And now picture this – a spectacled guy who was locked in a room of a coaching institute for two years, probably 3 (if he wasn’t lucky the first time ), who was ignored by everybody including his family for 2 years -getting the world to attend him – including the girls who nagged him persistently for two years and the good friends who never thought that YOU of all people would make it to Stephens/IIT/NLU/NID  pampering you. And then comes the big advise – I think you should go for Computer Science. The placements were fantastic last year.”


Reality Check –

If you have completed your graduation or are doing a summer intern, the probability of you knowing what you would be doing next summer or a year later is the same as predicting fate of stock markets. Decisions like Which College and Which Branch, are more than often decided with help of  Family and Friends- who normally rely on “Market Trends” to decide which branch/course is better than the other. Decided by the placements and not the interest area, a majority of students end up opting for courses that have best placement history. And yes this condition holds without fail for all the student- be it  Law- Engineering- Commerce- Pure Sciences – Arts – Mass Media.

But to expect a 19 year old student to make an informed decision on the basis of his understanding of  available courses would be unfair. It takes a while to understand one’s areas of interest. However for good or bad the IT jobs have become the default interest area.


Until and unless one is an exception, the choice of the major subject usually proves to be a fairly important criteria during the placement and hence in deciding the career path.  The irony however is the fact that most of the students do not really choose their branch. end up choosing the nearest possible “best” branch.  Here is an excerpt from an inorganic chemistry lecture that I had attended

(This one in particular was targeted at students from the IIT’s but would fit in well for most of the UG students) –

A Degree is AWARDED to a selected lot of students, while it is GIVEN to a some of them but fortunately or unfortunately, to the rest of them the degree is “THRUSTED” upon.

This statement came from a professor who had over 20 years of experience and more papers published than the average class strength of any UG college.  After 4 years of student life,  I can confirm that the statement has no extrapolation.  The big question now is – is there a way this statement can be rectified  – Where exactly is the flaw ?
Is it at the entrance exam level ? or Is it during the branch selection process ? Why do most of the students end up ranting about their course curriculum ?
Or lets actually take a step back and ask ourselves – When we were 18, did we have the slightest understanding of the difference between – Electrical or Computer engineering – Or What they meant when they used fancy terms like Computational Chemistry or Optics Fiber Communication.  Very few students are blessed with the ability to pick their courses that interest them. I was not. I ended up “opting” for chemistry for reasons beyond my control.  Do students really understand what they want to do at the age of 18 ? In my opinion No.
This is where comes in the concept of Liberal Arts School. Here is a very apt explanation of Liberal Arts School -(From Wikipedia)
A “liberal arts” institution can be defined as a “college or university curriculum aimed at imparting general knowledge and developing general intellectual capacities, in contrast to a professional, vocational, or technical curriculum.”  Read this for more .
While attending a liberal arts school is a trend in the US and Europe, the concept still needs to recognized in India.  I had another interesting discussion on Quora (an upcoming Questions and Answers platform).The question asked was – Are there any liberal arts schools in India? (Answered by Viksit Gaur)
From my understanding of the term “Liberal Arts”, a student studying them is expected to become well rounded in a number of subjects – from languages and literature, to science and mathematics and everything in between. One also gets to choose a Major (and/or a minor) as an area of focus. This of course is slightly broader than the definition that stems from the term “Classical Education” that included a narrower set of subjects. Liberal Arts colleges (if the seven sisters are a good model to go by) also tend to have smaller classes, and provide a greater set of activities to their students when compared to a larger university.
If we were to talk about a college that is exactly like the ones in the US, then no, it would be safe to assume there are no well known, purely liberal arts schools in India.
However, there are a number of colleges that offer similar courses to their students, although with differences. I’d say Delhi University’s top colleges – St. Stephens, Miranda House and others definitely keep up the tradition of providing BA or BS degrees in various Majors, while allowing students to study other core subjects from different fields. Other major cities like Kolkata and Mumbai have similar, well known colleges as well. All of these colleges are very, very selective  for their top programs – so much so that a large number of people who may get into top engineering or other professional programs may not even be on the list for say, a BA in Economics from them. (The dynamics of these admissions processes is a subject for an entirely new Quora post :))
Another point to note here is that increasingly, the rush to join engineering, law or medicine undergraduate programs has really taken over the focus of a lot of high schoolers. Combined with the selectivity of these programs, the relative shortage of options, as well as the inability to foresee strong career options post a liberal arts degree – lots of people never even consider these as their primary
Rather then seeing thousands of engineering colleges blossoming across the country, it would be great to see more Colleges on these lines – that help students really understand their interest and help in pursuing them.
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Business, Entrepreneurship, Marketing, Strategy, Technology, Web

FlipKart: India’s Amazon

To be honest whatever I write is probably already covered in the video, except that Binny and Sachin Bansal are from IIT Delhi 2005 batch, one year senior to me! Flipkart is an amazing site and its success makes me very proud. Firstly because the founders are my seniors, secondly because it proves that ebusinesses are possible in India, and thirdly because instead of an established player a startup has been able to crack the ecommerce market of books in India. All credit to Sachin and Binny for having the guts to take the risk, leave their jobs, start a website and take it to such a level. Kudos guys and all the best for the way ahead.

Update: Just a day after this post the following came up in VCCircle! “FlipKart raises upto $10mn from Tiger Global”

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Business, Entrepreneurship

Emerging business opportunities in rural Bihar

14bihar-pavilion-delhi-iitfHistory is proof of the fact that businessmen of all times have always been on the lookout for unsaturated markets. For past two decades Bihar was nearly untouched, be it by business or by development. In the present scenario, it takes no special effort to realize the fact that Bihar has become one such place where immense opportunities lie for business. With the 2nd highest GDP growth among Indian states this financial year, Bihar has already shown its mettle how it can utilize improved infrastructure and better governance.

Bihar has majorly been an agro-based economy with various small-scale industries supplementing it. Due to its highly fertile land and desired climatic conditions, there are varieties of agricultural produce which are cultivated here. Bihar has significant levels of production for the vegetables like Brinjal, Cauliflower and Ladyfinger and fruits like Mango, Guava and Pineapple. Litchi and Makhana (Foxnut) are two such products, 70 percent of whose national produce is supplied by the state. These facts indicate that there is a need to integrate the rural producers of these to the mainstream economy using food processing technology. Sudha dairy is already a shining example of how rural produce like milk can be marketed well with the aid of proper food processing technology.

Apart from its highly fertile soil, Bihar is also blessed to have sweet water ponds in its Mithila belt. Fishes of these ponds are considered to be of the best quality in the world. If cultured scientifically to increase the production level, it has the potential to be marketed in the international market at a premium price. Similarly, sugarcane also finds its commercial application in Sugar and Ethanol production. It is an immediate economic opportunity and also contributes to the government’s green agenda.

On commercial front telecom is one such domain which foresees a huge market in Bihar. With the falling ARPUs , telecom companies are looking towards rural market for next wave of growth. To pull the rural customer, the information VAS (value added services) can also be a major factor. Already IFFCO Kisan Sanchar Ltd has created a platform to offer free daily voice updates on mandi prices, farming techniques, weather forecast, rural health initiatives and fertilizer availability etc.

With the lower strata getting economically active, micro-finance has emerged as an inclusive business enterprise to ensure easy access of the credit to them for their entrepreneurial and social empowerment. There are various Microfinance institutions(MFIs) coming up in the region ( e.g. Saija, Bandhan, SKS just to name a few)and they are expected to be the propeller of much important inclusive and sustainable growth of the region.

Bihar is the next frontier for businesses in India both as an Investment destination and untapped market. Its high time that business enterprises take a leaf out of CK Prahlad’s theory of ‘fortune at bottom of pyramid’ and invest in land of boundless opportunities.

(This post has been written by Neelanjan Sinha, a ‘guest-strater’ – (a guest author on strat.in). Neelanjan is a 1st year management student at the Chandragupt Institute Of Management, Patna. Strat.in thanks Neelanjan for sharing his insights with our reader and looks forward to more from Neelanjan in future)

Do you want to write a post for strat.in as well? Check our Write a post section for how you can do so.

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Entrepreneurship, Reflections

The Freeway of Dreams !

The Freeway of Dreams !

The Freeway of Dreams !

Dreams are wonderful – flowery, ideal and honeymoon like. Fascinating about some idea sometimes wakes you up, you experience a terrific adrenaline flow and a lovely cinema of the future successful you starts playing on the screen of your mind. It all awesome and cool.. until you decide to start chasing. 

We all are walking along our little ‘pathway’ of  life. All is well and calm – until our mind is attracted and attached to that one thing. It can be anything – some path breaking business idea, the girl next door, a sport, a big house, your French teacher, those 6 pack Abs, that fancy sports car, a fatter salary, your own company, and just anything and everything the mind can catch hold of. No harm done till now, but as soon as you take your first step towards fulfilling your desire – your dream, a little stone pricks you in your foot and you wake up to the Valley – the valley of realization. 

The valley of realization is no more a fantasy land. Its the simple truth that draws the thin line between the world of your dreams and the world you actually are in. So anyone who chooses to give away the comforts of the average little pathway of life and take the big leap towards the freeway of dreams, has to walk through the valley. Its full of rough mountains, deep pits, seemingly unsurmountable walls and small cute little thorns all the way that many times are going to make you feel : Well, is this really the right way ? Many a times the pathway would seem much more happier and comfortable. Every now and then, you are going to loose your way or stand in front of a big rock and wonder – should i go back ??.

 Slowly, you do have to come to terms with the fact that in the journey through the valley, no one is going to cover up for you. Its all you and your own will power that is going to take you through. And with all the chaos going on around you, innumerable mistakes that you are making, stumbling upon a million new things and knowingly or unknowingly – learning every single day, you start coming close to who you actually are. Many a times, you may start finding a way towards your own life’s realization. 

And for those who learn to bounce back again and again and again, its a continuous motivating learning curve.In fact, you are no more just motivated by something , you are inspired by your Goal. And for the ones who survive all the pitfalls, jump the walls and stand tall – its time to hit the freeway ! 

And finally for those who reach the freeway, there is the ultimate realization- that the stones and pitfalls was where all the fun and happiness was. Those spurts of emotions, happiness, sadness, the anger, the sacrifices, the faith and all that you had to come through – is what set you free. That the struggle is what makes being on the freeway worth it. 

So if we actually imagine the pathway of life and the freeway of the life of your dreams and the valley of realization in between – there actually seems to be no easy way to give up once you leap into the valley. If you give up mid way – you are going to be caught up in all the thorns. If you decide to come back – you are going to come back with sore memories and bitter scars and an unquenched mind thats always going to be fluttering around. All the scars in the way are only going to feel sweet when you are on the freeway. 

So many people keep walking down the pathway just looking at the freeway and the possible obstacles in between. But coming to think of it rationally, if you have the slightest doubt that you will give up – do not plunge. So the big lesson is that if and when you do plunge – never ever give up or come back. The time to reach the freeway is different for all. Depending on the guides you meet in the valley, lucky shortcuts that your lovely angel called destiny might show you around etc. But one thing is for sure – if you stay long and have faith – you are going to come through sailing. 

Not all of us are going to reach the freeway. The freeway is free and fast after all, because not many get there. Else it would be clogged like the pathway. But hey – all the fun is anyways in the valley .

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Entrepreneurship, Technology

Has outsourcing made us READY for the next technology revolution in India ?

As IT companies declare surprisingly optimistic results over the last quarter of 2009, industry experts claim that the worst in IT outsourcing seems to be behind us and that it is time to look ahead at positive trends throughout 2010.

When it comes to the IT outsourcing market, it seems that we have always been ready. It started with menial data entry jobs and low skill clerical work. While continuing with that, Indian companies upgraded their competency levels and started attracting low to mid skill application maintenance jobs. With the vast pool of engineers and innovative management minds coming into the business, a big wave of BPOS and KPOS swept the country and is still going strong.(Though BPO jobs are lately being lost heavily to Philippines though)Along with these developments, a parallel path of piece meal product development started hitting the Indian shores. Offshore Product Development needed higher levels of skills and companies managed to put together systems to generate those skills and delivered superb results. This is when MNCs started coming and opening offices all over India and the latest trend has become the outsourcing of R&D processes to Indian offices of MNCs like Google, Microsoft, Oracle etc.

Companies are setting up centers here because of the vast untapped pool of engineers and scientist in India and most of the giants like HP, IBM etc generate more than 50% of their revenues from the emerging markets outside US. Moving to India is a part of the strategy to keep the research close to the customer.

What this means that as we have moved up in the value chain, the entire product lifecycle from research to product development to maintenance to voice & non-voice support to menial data entry is happening at the highest level possible – within India! From low skill call center work to high caliber IP generation, we have a talent pool that has stood up every time the outsourcing industry has stretched its hand towards it and we can now start to imagine that we have the experienced resources becoming available in all of these disciplines.

So much so, that for the opponents of outsourcing, ‘losing jobs in the US’ is becoming a secondary stand and the “US Outsourcing away its competitive edge ” seems to have become a more powerful argument. As far as India is concerned, outsourcing has done a fabulous job and continues to be powerful in its place. But it is definitely not an answer to everything. In a BBC radio show debate between Shashi Tharoor – out Current minister of state of external affairs and Niomi Klein – Canadian Writer, even the all optimistic ‘Soft Power’ claim of Shashi Tharoor falls short of being convincing and he does agree that Outsourcing is not a final answer to everything for technology in India. But are we ready or at least on track towards the next step – a “product revolution” to march ahead of the services revolution?

With the vast pool of engineers and now, the experienced pool of professionals catering to every level of the value chain being available within India and with the proximity to most of the fastest growing markets, are we now in a better position than ever to be able to defy the odds and wash off the label of a ‘stagnant innovative and invention technology ecosystem’ that has been applied to us continuously by almost anyone reporting on this topic?

We have had champions within the service industry, master managers who have handled teams of hundreds to dish out world class software for companies throughout the world. What is stopping the champions of our product industry? Is it our culture that discourages risk and looks down upon failures, poor infrastructure, brain drain, or our history of being used to providing ‘services’ to foreigners?

All the MNCs coming to India have shown us that we have the talent and skills that can be leveraged to respond to the highest levels in technology. Are our entrepreneurs, investors, mentors and startups  READY enough to use this same talent, the advantage of availability of experienced talent due to the globalization of R&D processes in technology and put into action the next technology revolution for India ? Or is outsourcing going to be our best answer for the mention of ‘technology’ for years to come?

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Entrepreneurship, Politics

The Start Up Visa

USA-startup-visaIts 2010 and as we step into the next decade, Business and Technology remain the scale of measuring the overall strength of any country. Though jaw-dropping start ups keep coming forward from the dorm rooms and garages of the Silicon Valley, investors in US are worried that the  government is not doing enough to entice entrepreneurs to stay.

So the US congress is now considering what can be called as a ‘start-up Visa’. A visa for foreign born “techies” who have good ideas, so that they can stay ‘in’ US and continue working on them. This is especially valid for foreign students who drop out of school to found their own companies. It is particularly hard for them to get visas and continue in the valley, and US is aware of its losing ground if it doesn’t encourage smart brains from India and China to stay within.

The visa also aims at attracting foreign capital. So if your business plan is good enough to attract $250,000 through Venture Capital or $100,000 as angel funding, or shows prospects of creating 5-10 jobs and around $1Mn in revenue, then you are eligible and up for the visa. Such visas are already in place in Canada, UK and Australia and US knows the importance of funding the founders if it does not want to give away any advantage to one of these.
But the point to ponder upon is, if US, with all that it is, is thinking so seriously and taking steps to attract talent, imagine what steps India is going to have to take to at least retain its talent. The reforms from 1991 have provided the fuel for entrepreneurs to pick themselves up without licensing hassles, but do we have a government that is worried about start ups in India?

According to Dr Venkatraman, Indian born US based 2009-Nobel Prize winner, if India does not invest in the facilities that support long term research now, it is going to find itself 10-20 years behind in harnessing technology for better benefits.

We have one of the most, if not the most, competitive educational systems in the world. But it is also true that most of the smart brains are showing all their competitive spirit in India and Creativity outside it!

There is indeed a lot of activity going on in the start up incubators in India. Loads of VC funding and a build up of an entrepreneurial ecosystem with foundations like NEN, but we seem to miss godfathers like Andy Bechtolsheim and Mike Markkula coming ahead to mentor the Google’s or Apple’s of tomorrow.

With the Indian population all set to hit 1.5 Bn by 2020, the Indian market and economy is essentially going to piggyback on the ability of future job creators. The ecomonic reforms from 1991 have provided the fuel for entrepreneurs to pick themselves up without licensing hassles and red tape , now it is the turn for our educational reforms to pick up soon enough to catapault innovation and R&D. Are outdated rotten courses going to make way for a fast changing and flexible course systems that incorporate iphone and Android apps on the go ?

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PS: Click here if you wish to know more about the visa.

Click here if you think something has to be done about our educational system!

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Business, Entertainment, Entrepreneurship, IIM, Planning

3 Idiots – All is well! Really?

3-Idiots-2009 3 Idiots is an amazing movie! It hits the right chords in comedy, philosophy, romance and everything else that any bollywood movie can touch. Till now everyone whom I have asked has given only positive feedback about it. Amir Khan has given an amazing performance and the movie has done very well at the box office as well. The message of the movie is also very clear, follow your heart when picking your profession, and not necessarily the safe professions like Engineering / Medicine in India. A very good concept indeed.

After the movie I was discussing with some friends the whole concept shown in the movie, ‘Beti ko doctor and bete ko engineer banao’ (Make a girl Doctor and a boy an Engineer) has been the slogan for India since quite some time. We all laugh at it, mock it, and sometimes also complain about it, but do we ever try to recognize the reasons behind it? Lets try to remember the public issues movies were questioning during the 1990s. Wasn’t it being jobless in spite of being educated? Wasn’t finding a job being a graduate a very difficult task at one point of time (and probably stil is a bit difficult). This is the reason why probably our parents, and their parents started the mantra of ‘girl doctor, boy engineer’. To think of it this mantra has been working moderately in our generation with a lot of middle class boys / girls from my school being engineers / doctors and doing very well (this is not saying that others are not doing well!).

Another reason which can be quite obvious is that Indians are relatively risk averse people. We have one of the highest savings rate in the world, we have one of the most populated middle class in the world, we also have probably the highest poverty in the world! Thus the desire of parents to give their children a safe, secure working profession rather than dreaming something big and then not making it. Which brings us to the next big question, why is it bad to dream something big and then not making it (in India)? I have put in India in brackets because the movie and the article are concerning something specific to India. The reason why this is considered bad in India is because the basic living standard in India still has not come up yet. In other developed countries even if you do a smallish job (be a salesman / store operator / cab driver ) you can still afford a decent house, a nice car, visit the movie theater, give good gifts to your children, buy an iPod blah blah. In India if you are in one of these jobs then you can’t really do all these things! and this is where the fundamental problem comes in, that people are too afraid to dream and fail. Although movies like 3 Idiots will show that following your heart is the best way to go forward, I still reckon it is a bit too early to say that. What if Farhan in 3 Idiots goes for the photography internship and then finds out that photography was not his passion but just timepass (leisure!) and when he has to do it 24 hr then he hates it! What will he do then? Probably come back and try to get a job in India. What if it is an year like 2009 where recession is at its peak and he is unable to get a job. Now he has been out of job for 2 years and no work experience. What then?? It is this fear which prevails in the mind of Farhan’s father in the movie and in Raju’s mind as well. Yes being without fear is very important, but doing whatever you feel like doing still seems a bit overstretched. Would love to hear your feedback on this, so if you are reading this then please do leave a comment.

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Entrepreneurship, Finance, Human Resources, Planning, Politics

Losing the ‘Education’ edge

As some of my batch mates went from IITs to MITs and other US Universities around the world, the number of publications in their resumes started to increase at an exponential speed. To me this phenomenon really did not make a lot of sense as how can a student or his research change within a couple of months to take their number of publications from non-existent (in IIT years) to innumerable (in US Universities). The simple answer I got from my friends was funding and resources available. Ofcourse IITs being one of the best institutes in the world in terms of students still lack the resources for producing world class research.

I have always considered US Universities as one of the biggest assets of US Economy. The funding and prestige of these universities brings most of the world’s students pursuing PhDs into states and once they are in US they never leave. In turn these students do research which helps US and also start companies which get US billions in taxes. An example is when a macbook is made in China and sold anywhere in the world, the major portion of the cost is divided by US and China (China for manufacturing and US for designing) and in turn China’s contribution can move to any other country where a factory exists but US contribution is permanent simply because Apple designed this in US and is based out of California.

The research and intellectual properties created by US University graduates can probably be considered the single most important reason for making US the superpower it is today. So when I read this article in NYTimes regarding how the US is cutting funding to University of California at Berkeley, I was kinda astonished. Afterall no one should step on their competitive edge and most of all US should not do this. I guess for countries like India and China it might be a little positive as the much hyped brain drain might get a sudden stop from this. Ofcourse the world, innumerable students and research will face a bad consequence. I hope the problem gets solved but well lets see!

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Sons of the Soil – The story of Bhumi

 'BHUMI - Center for learning Grassroots Leadership' The following article is part of a series on strat.in – called Startup September. In one sentence, Bhumi is a 3 year old NGO that lights the fire that questions questionable leadership.

The anatomy of an itch serves as an irritant. Its symptoms include a certain hyperactivity that transcends your daily functions. A certain itch exists in all of us, show me a perfectly happy and content man and I’ll show you the disappearance of the itch. This itch manifests itself in various forms. Necessity is termed as the mother of invention, to extrapolate; this itch is the mother or innovation.

Innovation takes shape in a lot of ways, some ideas that get implemented, saved time, money or even a novel approach. In this case, let me take the example of an entrepreneurial venture that decided on a problem, focused its energies in solving it and got taken seriously. This approach is not much different to all the other stories that we read every so often. The difference however lies in the problem – Leadership, and the solution designed around it – an NGO called Bhumi.

A group of 5 people got together around late 2005 and started fomenting ideas amongst themselves. The ideas kept bouncing around and reached fruition in May 2006 when Bhumi was found. The group that met and discussed ideas came from backgrounds as diverse as software, media, sales and Journalism. They pin-pointed the root of our country’s troubles as a lack of leadership and immediately set about rectifying the situation. From the band of 5, only Mujeeb and Rakesh persist today while the rest have gone on to pursue their own inclinations outside the walls of Bhumi. The story of leadership is one which is steeped in time but has never found an audience, much less a cause to identify itself with. Bhumi looked at this as an opportunity and went ahead with trying to rectify this situation.

The vision for Bhumi is to groom leaders towards better leadership. Bhumi believes in inculcating leadership in every field that one might step in and it is in this approach of Bhumi that their novelty lies. Founded in Hyderabad, they focus on leadership with a holistic vision and look at offshoots like entrepreneurial incubation. They also have an incubation program going strong at Mahboobnagar on the outskirts of Hyderabad.

bhumi2Bhumi has a number of programs that are in keeping with their vision. Dronacharya and Eklavya program, a mentoring program for youngsters where a select group of mentors and coaches take school-children under their wings is into its 3rd year and garnering good attention both from the media and the contributors alike. Freedom under construction, a program that kicks off every Independence Day and carries on into the year is also a highlight for Bhumi. On 15th August 2007, about 1500 people came together to support their cause while rebuilding a school building in a slum in Hyderabad. This also happens to be the fondest memory that their co-founder Rakesh has of Bhumi.

The journey to implement Bhumi has never really been an easy one with the initiative starting off as an idea and implementation deemed a stretch. Friday evenings that could have been spent catching up on movies and mall hopping went into Bhumi. Most weekends were spent incubating Bhumi and coming up with ideas that made sense. Overlapping timings meant that there was someone or the other left to baby sit the idea while the others went off on their day jobs.

Overall, a tremendously ambitious project, Bhumi hopes to spread its wings and re-invent itself in other cities as well. Bhumi is proud of its youthful image and hopes that it is this image of vibrancy that will propel it forward.

Find out more about Bhumi on bhumi.in

(Check other posts of Meghbartma here . If you like our articles, do join our facebook fan page .)

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Business, Entrepreneurship, Marketing, Technology, Web

Phones and Location Based Services!

The idea is not new, the concept is also not really new but the execution is new! Location based services are now capturing the world at an amazing pace!

Picture 3To think of it a mobile phone was a location based service. It provided a moving point of contact for a person. Now with the launch of iPhone apps and similar adaptation into other phones, the location based services are becoming more and more popular. In the iPhone you have AroundMe, Yelp!, Google Maps, Twitter, and UrbanSpoon using your current location. Moreover the latest service by Google called Latitude is an amazing addition.

With people fond of trying new places such location based services have become really popular. Just go to any part of the city and launch these applications, find new restaurants and shops, read reviews and pick one of your choice.

In urban cities like Bombay, Delhi, London, NY where traveling from one place to another can take a lot of time, a service like Google Latitude is quite amazing. As soon as you get free you can just switch on the service and see who all amongst your friends are nearby and then perhaps join the nearest ones.

To think of it, this is not the first time such an idea is being floated. A couple of years ago another idea was floated in India by mobile service providers which would provide you with location based service. The idea was to send you text messages / sms based on your location about the offers / deals / interesting shops near your current location. This service never really picked up! Let us try and analyze why

  • User Choice to Switch On or Off the Service: The most important feature required is to make the user feel that he is in control. With the current services the information about his location is passed on to the applications only when he asks for the service and not by default. In the sms case the user was not given an option.
  • User Interface: Sms although very popular, has a very limited power of communication and thus also led to the concept failing. With the current screens, internet based phones the User Interface can be made really smooth and friendly.
  • Privacy: The phones and applications always ask whether to send your location info or not! What if someone is spying on you and gets an application switched on once which always tracks your position! The current apps take care of privacy.
  • Increase and comfort in User Knowledge: Over the past few years users have become more comfortable with sharing information and also got used to such devices. I guess we can say that the sms idea was a bit ahead of its time.
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