Thursday, December 22, 2005

INSAT-4A Launched Successfully

This event is another feather in the cap of ISRO. This time it is India's most advanced telecommunication satellite INSAT-4A. INSAT – 4A was launched successfully by the European generic rocket, Ariane-5, from the spaceport of Kourou in French Guyana at 0403 IST on Thursday.

The launch is seen as another milestone in India's space programme and is expected to give a major fillip to the most awaited Direct-to-Home television services. INSAT-4A, India's heaviest satellite weighing 3,080 kg at lift-off was shot into space about 29 minutes after the European launch vehicle blasted off.

The rocket also deployed INSAT-4A's co-passenger, European meteorological payload MSG-2 seven minutes later. Soon after the launch, the Master Control Facility at Hassan in Karnataka picked up the signals from INSAT-4A at 0432 IST and Indian Space Research Organisation Chairman G Madhavan Nair, who witnessed the launch, described the health of the satellite as 'good'.

Describing the INSAT-4A launch, telecast live by Doordarshan, as a very important milestone in the history of ISRO, Nair said it will revolutionise DTH broadcasting and improve the entertainment scenario in the country.

INSAT-4A, the first satellite in the INSAT-4 series under which seven satellites have been planned, is equipped with 12 ku and 12 c band high-powered transponders, with a design life of 12 years. ISRO officials in Bangalore said 12 ku band transponders provide around 140 to 150 DTH channels. The satellite is expected to be operational by the end of January.

INSAT-4A was originally planned for launch in the first half of 2005 but due to difficulties faced by Ariane and delay in the launch of first two satellites of other countries, the launch schedule was recast.

In the coming days, the MCF will conduct operations such as orbit raising manoeuvres to take the satellite into its final 36,000 km circular Geo-synchronous Orbit. Deployment of solar antennas will be carried out before positioning the satellite in its designated slot of 83 degree East longitude, along with INSAT-2E and INSAT-3B.

MCF will also carry out regular operations and control the satellite during its service life, ISRO officials said. Tata Sky has already signed an agreement with ISRO to lease all the 12 ku-band transponders to provide DTH transmission in India using VSATs.

INSAT system, which was established in 1983, is one of the largest domestic communication satellite systems in the Asia-Pacific region comprising eight satellites - INSAT-2E, INSAT-3A, INSAT-3B, INSAT-3C, INSAT-3E, KALPANA-1, GSAT-2 and EDUSAT - with 150 transponders besides meteorological instruments. INSAT-4A will further argument the INSAT system capacity by adding another 24 transponders to the system and play a significant role in the expansion of DTH services.

Saturday, December 17, 2005

Murder of BPO Worker

This news perhaps was the most shocking one in the recent times among all the happenings. This news together with the hoax call over parliament bomb blast totally covered the major news events on Saturday. But the murder of the BPO worker raised again a question on the security provided by the companies to its night staff in India.

This unfortunate incident happened with a woman employee of the HP Global Contact Center in Bangalore. Prior to this event everything was pretty smooth for this industry where in the work begins when everyone decides to sleep. Timings like 2 AM in the morning are quite usual in this kind of job but the 2 AM of friday turned out to be the last hour for Prathibha belonging to Bangalore.

Pratibha was raped and murdered by the driver of call center which had employed her. The driver it seems had demanded Pratibha to withdraw money from the ATM but Pratibha had declined to do so. Seeing his demand not getting fulfilled he took the cab on a isolated route and then raped Pratibha and finally slit her throat before dumping the body in a pit near Anjanapura Layout. This is a heinous act of crime one can think of. The family members especially the husband of Prathibha who himself works in another BPO was shocked and went into depression after the news of the incident.

This rape and murder of a 28-year-old city woman BPO worker has actually nicked off the "security feel" that existed among the agents community, especially among women employees and their parents. BPO firms say though they have outsourced their logistics requirements to external players, it’s strictly monitored and carefully tabbed to ensure safety.

This incident comes as a major blow to the BPO players in India since this reduces the confidence of employee on employer tremendously in providing good security measures to him/her. Also since most of the BPOs work in night shifts it becomes tough for the companies to shift the women associates into the morning shifts which are very little in number and considering the fact that close to 50 % of the associates consists of women.

Well as BPO centers puts it " We also have to outsouce certain services. Logistics is not our core business and we cannot carry out efficiently without losing focus on the core business". But this incident is an eye opener for all the BPO companies in India. Its better late than never.

Amitabh Bachchan Returns Home

The Shahenshah is back. This is how most of the portals (Rediff) describe the arrival of Amitabh Bachchan back home.

Megastar Amitabh Bachchan has finally been discharged from Mumbai's Lilavati Hospital on Saturday, where he has been recovering after a successful operation to treat his diverticulitis condition.

Photo shows the superstar coming out of the hospital with his son Abhishek. He looks perfectly fine and doctors have advised him to take rest for some more time.

Huge crowds of fans surrounded the hospital, many travelling extensively just to get a glimpse of the actor.

Before he was discharged, Bachchan made a memorable appearance on the balcony of his 11th floor hospital room. Accompanying him were son Abhishek, daughter Shweta, wife Jaya and close friend Amar Singh. Industrialist Anil Ambani was seen at the hospital earlier in the morning. Amitabh looked down at the gathered media and fans, and waved -- one of those moments where the whole country collectively breathes a sigh of relief; Amitabh Bachchan is all right.

The fans weren't lucky enough to see Bachchan as he was whisked efficiently and discreetly out of the hospital. Rajesh Jadhav, one of the many who had travelled from far corners of Mumbai, said he was very disappointed. "I came early in the morning, and have been standing here for a long time. It is a once in a lifetime opportunity, to see Amitabh Bachchan recovered. I'm heartbroken that I couldn't see him up close."

But this disappointment is shortlived, and the general feeling is one of great relief.

Welcome back, Mr Bachchan.

Thursday, December 15, 2005

Corporate Team Outing - 3

In the past 3 months of joining the respective teams, this is my third corporate team outing. But it was the best of all. The first one was a plain dinner and nothing more than that. The second one happened in Pragati Resorts about which I had already blogged earlier. This time it was a mix of dinner and bowling.
This time the size of the team was big as two teams under one project manager were clubbed for the outing. Here in Polaris it is called as Stream Outing. I am yet to figure out why it is called that way. We went to a place in MPM Mall, Abids called as Knockin which is akin to Alleygator in Secunderabad. It has all the games like snookers, pool, billiards, TT, Bowling Alley and several others. We played three games but unfortunately our team lost. It was my first tryst with Bowling. But it was great fun, since I was the only one in the team to get a Strike. The team spirit among all the people around me was absolutely superb. It made me feel as if I was in TAPMI again. Sreenivas's team won the competition and we finished third.
The next destination for us was the restaurant Palace-Heights in Abids. Its an old restaurant and last time I came here was for the TAPMI alumni party. The food was great and finally the bill was also great. We had a great company this time with Sreenivas, Ravi and Mandadi joining us. It was a mix of people who were laughing like hell and cracking all types of nasty jokes (like me) to the other extent where some people were just enjoying the food to the core. The party ended at 12:10 and by the time I reached home it was 12:30. Inspite of a busy day and load of work on our head we enjoyed the day tremendously. It was really like reliving the TAPMI parties. Perhaps one of the best team outings I had till date.

Saturday, December 10, 2005

2006 Football World Cup Groups

Thirty-two teams that qualified for the 2006 Football World Cup Finals in Germany were on Friday drawn into eight groups.

Group A
Germany, Costa Rica, Poland, Equador

Group B
England, Paraguay, Sweden, Trinidad and Tobago

Group C
Argentina, Ivory Coast, Serbia and Montenegro, Holland

Group D
Mexico, Iran, Angola, Portugal

Group E
Italy, Ghana, USA, Czech Republic

Group F
Brazil, Croatia, Australia, Japan

Group G
France, Switzerland, Korea, Togo

Group H
Spain, Ukraine, Tunisia, Saudi Arabia

Friday, December 09, 2005

Bill Gates in India

Bill Gates is in India after a gap of close to 3 years now. The last time Bill Gates visited India was in the year 2002. But this time his visit created lot of excitement among the politicians and the industry honchos. This post will cover some of the major aspects of his visit, his look towards India as an emerging economy and how is Microsoft scaling up its presence in India under the able leadership of Ravi Venkatesan.

The meeting between Bill Gates and Finance Minister, Mr. P Chidambaram over a breakfast table was perhaps one that got lot of media attention. Bill Gates met the finance minister over the breakfast that was later termed as a Power Breakfast by the media. Chidambaram talked about how the working population in India is growing at a much faster pace when compared to other countries and how this could be a very big advantage for a developing country like us. Bill Gates appreciated India’s progress on the software and computer technology side together with Biology (Pharmaceuticals and Life Sciences) and said that we are building world-class institutions in these areas. One of the sentences by Chidambaram was this: “Europe spends more money to support one cow than the per capita income of 100 developing countries. The per capita of European cow is that high”. He also talked about the way countries like Malayasia had built excess capacity that is helping it immensely now. China is doing the same. To this Bill Gates said that he never understood the manufacturing process and hence has no comments to offer but he talked about the manufacturing of X – Box, the gaming console of Microsoft on the lines of Playstation 2 and Nintendo. Microsoft today makes its X – Box entirely out of Guangzhou, China. The reason being all the components are made here. The ports or roads are very good; the other transportation infrastructure is incredible.

After the broadband-based Internet world, the next big thing that will happen according to Bill Gates is the “Talking Computer”. Bill Gates says that computers can’t talk, can’t see, and can’t hear. In next 5-10 years, as per the vision of Bill Gates computers will recognize things, talk like humans and recognize our handwriting and what not. It will be a sort of natural interface unlike the usage of keyboard. Bill Gates believes that Microsoft is in a leading position in this kind of research and hopes to bring the innovation to the people which will change their life.

Some things to ponder about Bill Gates are his idea of most influential thinkers. The most influential books according to Bill Gates are:
Ø Thomas Friedman’s “The World is Flat”
Ø Jeffery Sach’s “The End of Poverty”
Ø Jack Welch’s “Straight from the Gut”

Microsoft’s vision is to take computer to every home and every desk is not half done as per what he says. He says that Microsoft will continue to innovate and bring the best products for its customers that will bring excitement in their lives.

The most watched programme on television on Tuesday and Wednesday night was the chat between the Infosys Chairman, N R Narayanmurthy and Bill Gates hosted by Prannoy Roy. I happened to watch the second part of this chat. It was an amazing experience to see the two stalwarts talk on various issues relating to India. When Murthy was asked to check his microphone he said the normal 1…2…3… but when Bill Gates was asked to check the microphone he said 1 billion, 2 billion, 3 billion on which the crowd went into laughter burst. The talk between the two was a great one. He said that Google is not following the right business model and soon they will have to change it. He said Google search is not completely free. They earn revenue through advertisement, which they do not share with the people who use their search engine. So in what sense their services are free. He questioned.

The most important and landmark event in the life of Gates was when he got a computer terminal to work at the tender age of 13. When the same question was posed to Murthy he said the major drive to start Infosys in him had arisen out of an unpleasant encounter with the legal authorities in Bulgaria.
On the investment front, Microsoft has said that they will invest 1.7 billion dollars over a period of 3 years in India and will increase the headcount in the country's development centre by 3000. Mostly the MIDC carries out basic research in the field of computing. IBM is the only other company which carries out basic research other than Microsoft.
When asked by one of the audience regarding the qualities a person should possess to achieve success, Gates said the following:
Ø Passion
Ø Intelligence
Ø Integrity

Passion to perform. To do the best possible with limited resources in hand. Intelligence. To understand the subtle points of business. Integrity. To ensure that we understand our boundaries and our limits. All in all, the programme was a delight to watch after a long time.

Monday, December 05, 2005

Politics Again III

This is the third post in the series of post on the nature of Indian Politicians and their practices which are affecting the people in more ways than one. As I had said earlier, literally there is no area which is spared by the touch of Indian politics. The latest one being the International Film Festival of India.

As per what the reports have come, the government has insulted Megastar Amitabh Bachchan at the Sonia' s behest. I read this news item on Rediff in the morning. Just read the lines below to understand till what extent politics can ruin the society as such.

As per the report Bollywood superstar Amitabh Bachchan, was slated to inaugurate the 36th International Film Festival of India at Goa on November 24 as the chief guest. But later he was told by the government to withdraw from the event at the last minute due to his proximity to the Samajwadi Party. This was conveyed to the media by SP leader Amar Singh said in New Delhi on Monday.

Mounting an attack on UPA Chairperson Sonia Gandhi and former Union Information and Broadcasting Minister Jaipal Reddy for humiliating the superstar, Amar also claimed that Amitabh's health bulletins were initially blocked on Doordarshan under pressure from Sonia and Jaipal.

"It was a great insult to the country's icon when he was prevented from inaugurating the festival after being invited," the SP leader told newspersons while releasing a copy of the invitation letter written to Amitabh by Goa Chief Minister Pratapsinh Rane, dated October 26, 2005.

In the Indian Film history's 100 years, 50 years belong to Amitabh Bachchan. And even the IFFI, in which he was denied chief guest status, the Indian retrospective was dominated by his films. If the government is so against Amitabh Bachchan, it should stop holding such film festivals.

Amar alleged that Jaipal was trying to "humiliate" Amitabh at the behest of the Congress president. "Mr Reddy has a history of attacking Amitabh to please his political masters," he said, adding, "I do not want to get involved in the Amitabh-Congress relations, but since the Samajwadi Party was also named in the reasons told to Amitabh for withdrawal of the invitation to inaugurate the IFFI, I had to cite some facts,"

Amar said while Amitabh's wife Jaya Bachchan was an active member of the Samajwadi Party, the superstar was not a member of any party. "The issue of keeping away Amitabh from the film festival was raised in Parliament and the media has also been carrying such reports, but the government is quiet. If the government would have tried to clarify its position, even if falsely, some benefit of the doubt would have been given. The silence is reinforcing reports about the treatment to the actor because of his relations with the Samajwadi party.

"The petty attitude of those sitting at high places was exposed by the way Doordarshan treated the news regarding his illness. When the whole country was praying for his health and people were glued to TV sets for any information about the actor, the national channel totally blocked any news about his health," he claimed.

It was only after Priyaranjan Dasmunshi took over as the Information and Broadcsating Minister that Doordarshan started telecasting his health bulletins, he added.

Thursday, December 01, 2005

Amitabh Bachchan is Unwell

Megastar Amitabh Bachchan is not well. 63 years old Legendary actor of the Hindi Cinema known worldwide as the BBC Star of the Millenium has suffered from the intestinal infection which resulted in swelling of the Large intestine, a condition called as Colitis.

On 28th November, Amitabh Bachchan complained of a mild stomach disorder in Delhi and got admitted into Escorts Hospital. There the leading cardiologist and Director of Escorts Naresh Trehan said that the Bachchan's illness is nothing but a normal irritation of the intestine. Bachchan came to the hospital with the problems of pain in the abdomen and after the required treatment he was discharged. Soon after he landed in Mumbai he was admitted into the Leelavati Hospital on monday night.

Seeing his condition the doctors advised him to get operated and he underwent a surgery on evening of November 30. Now 63 year old Bachchan is in the intensive care unit and his condition is seen as stable. He was operated on by gastro-intestinal surgeon Dr P Jagganath of Leelavati Hospital.

It was reported that the nearly three-hour operation for the infection, inflammation and perforation in the small and large intestine was successful. A team of surgeons also removed some old tissues which were the remnants of the injury the actor had sustained during the shooting of film Coolie in 1982.He will remain under observation for the next 24 hours.

Meanwhile all this happening got an extensive media coverage. The first family of bollywood was absolutely silent on the issue and did not attempt to make a hue and cry out of it. Even Amitabh Bachchan told people that he is fine and his health is secondary when compared to other issues which the nation needs to take care of. Almost all the news channel covered minute by minute news of Amitabh's illness and it became the headlines in most of the news papers shadowing the news of SENSEX crossing 9000.

I wish Amitabh Bachchan, my idol, a speedy recovery and hope that god gives him enough strength to perform and enthrall audiences in future.