Wednesday, 25 March 2015

CAN E-GOVERNANCE REALLY FIGHT CORRUPTION? #DigitalIndia



Prime Minister  Narendra Modi in his maiden Independence Day speech on August 15, 2014 envisaged a ₹1 lakh crore project to transform the country into a digitally empowered and connected knowledge economy. The digital India programme  is an umbrella initiative  with the unique vision of  transforming  India  into a digitally empowered society  free from red-tapism, corruption, nepotism etc. For this  digital transformation to be completed it is imperative that the government and the corporate work in tandem in creating a sustainable model for e governance  for which digital education is essential. And US chipmaker Intel, a world leader in innovative computing has come forward to support this cause so as to enable Indians to harness the benefits of this digital revolution. Intel India will also work with Bharat Broadband Network Limited (BBNL) to build capacity by imparting digital literacy training to key resource persons in the first 1000 panchayats under the National Optic Fibre Network roll-out in India.

One of the major problems the Indian society faces today is the deep rooted corruption in public life. The entire government machinery is a citadel of corrupt practices and the common man feels suffocated as he fails to protect his legitimate rights without bribing. Corruption has become a way of life in India today. One of the major objectives of E governance and digital India is to minimize (if not eradicate) corruption in public life. But will it really translate into reality? I doubt. Let me delineate what I mean by taking a real life example.

I applied for my passport online and deposited the documents in Regional Passport Office, Bhubaneswar. I was in a small town in Western Odisha at that time where my Police verification was supposed to be done. The Inspector Incharge of the Police Station happened to know me personally and he called me over phone to the PS to sign the necessary verification papers. I reached his office and did the needful. When I came out of the PS one constable called me, “Sir, Your papers will be sent today itself, but…..”. “But what?” I asked. I could sense his gestures but pretended not to understand anything. Finally he spelled out, “Something for our chai, pani……”. I looked at the IIC who fought sigh of me. I handed over two hundred rupee notes to the constable and he was happy.

Two years later my son applied for his passport in Delhi, again online. The Police came to his place of residence to verify and got his signature on the relevant papers. Then they demanded ₹500/- as verification fees which my son gave fearing that they might not send his verification report in time. Considering the prevalent situation in our present day society his fear was not baseless.

Now on both the above occasions the digital e governance was at work. Still the bribing (read tipping) could not be avoided. Neither my son nor I had any intension to bribe the police. But we were compelled to tip them. Can this sort of corruption be eradicated from the society by any amount of digitization? I am afraid it can’t be. Unless public servants and corporate houses learn the value of ethics and morality corruption cannot be done away with. Our political leaders who are supposed to be peoples’ representatives are the most corrupted lot and corruption trickles down from the top. If our Rulers do not stop embezzling public money no amount of digitization can ever be successful in this country.

The need of the hour is to educate our politicians with the right dose of moral and ethical values. Can Intel with some technological innovation help us in attaining this objective for creating a corruption free India?

For more details on Intel’s initiative in digital India vision follow the link below:

Tuesday, 24 March 2015

GUPTAJI, I’M COMING FOR BREAKFAST TOMORROW #kelloggswaleguptaji



In 1996 I came across a newly launched pack of “Kellogg’s” cornflakes in one of my local grocery stores. The shop keeper who knew me quite well requested me to give it a try as it was a completely new brand in the town and was sophistically packed and highly priced. On being repeatedly coaxed by him I picked up a pack and the shop keeper gave me a 10% discount on the printed MRP. On reaching home my wife, a stubborn diet conscious housewife, was amazed to see the pack in the grocery basket. She was happy that finally good sense had prevailed over me to purchase cornflakes for breakfast.



At that time there was no internet and I was very curious to know why a pack of cornflakes should be so costly. I contacted the latest edition of Encyclopedia Britannica in my office library searching for Kellogg’s. The only information I got was that W.K. Kellogg developed first cornflakes and started making cereal products for patients at Battle Creek Sanatorium in 1894. Later he sold cereals in Canada and UK. The Kellogg Company was established in 1922.Subsequently it started marketing cereal products in South Africa, USA and other countries. Exactly after 100 years in 1994 Kellogg’s came to India and its first manufacturing unit was started in Taloja in Raigad district of Maharastra. Its Indian HQ was established in Mumbai and Kellogg’s cornflakes came to Indian market in 1995. Subsequently many variants of Kellogg’s appeared on grocery shop selves. Kellogg’s Chocos, Kellogg’s Honey Loops, Kellogg’s All Bran Wheat Flakes, Kellogg’s Oats are some of the popular products available in Indian Market today.



Cornflakes have become the favorite breakfast item for my entire family since 1996, i.e. the very day I picked up the pack from the local grocer. My wife prepares a variety of items using Kellogg’s cornflakes. Kellogg’s Chocos  is the most favourite dish of my kids. They just relish it. And I like to take the flakes with milk. My wife prepares a dish called Chatpatti Cornflakes Chivda which is ravishingly tasty with the evening tea.



But I know several recipes are prepared by the Gupta family using Kellogg’s cereal products. Whether they invite me or not I have decided to call on them to try some of recipes I am curious about. I have heard from some of my neighbours that Gupta Bhabi serves Almond Strawberry Cornflakes and Strawberry Banana Cornflakes which are very good breakfast items. My office collegue who had gone to Guptaji’s last evening was gaga about the Cornflake Date Shake and Walnut Cornflake Chocoballs. There is no point in hiding the truth. Guptaji’s family has become quite famous for trying and innovating several recipes using Kellogg’s cereal products. I don’t mind paying for the healthy breakfast snacks they prepare. Guptaji, I am coming for the breakfast tomorrow with my entire family. And I will really appreciate if you please serve us with Cherry, Banana and walnut Cornflakes; Apple Cornflake pancakes, Cornflake Coconut Ladoos, Cornflakes Guava  Milkshake and of course, anything else that you may like us to try.



I am sure Guptaji won’t mind entertaining me on payment. I suggest you also take some time out to visit the Guptas and try from their list of healthy breakfast menu from the link below:


https://www.facebook.com/anaajkanashta

https://www.youtube.com/user/kelloggindia.




Sunday, 22 March 2015

MY FIRST MOBILE PHONE #ChooseToStartwithMotoE



It was 2004. I purchased my first mobile phone, the sturdy Nokia 3310. And that too after standing in a queue for almost 6 hours to get my first prepaid BSNL SIM. I had to shell out nothing less than 4000 bucks for the 3310 and I thought I got it at a good bargain. Most of my colleagues had purchased the same Nokia model for around ₹5000/- and they considered me as an expert in bargaining. Mobile phones came to my small town only in 2002 courtesy the Reliance Communications. But the call rates and the handsets were so costly that I could never venture to own one till BSNL launched mobile services at a cheaper rate. Launched in 2000 the blue colored Nokia 3310 was a heavy (133gm) bricklike sturdy handset which I adored a lot. Its loud and clear speakers were the things I liked the most. The B&W small display (84x48 pixels) screen where I could see the messages from a distance was something I am still missing. Limited choice of inbuilt mono ring tones (35) was well compensated by allowing me to download a few mono ring tones (7) from the net. The phone was an asset to perform the basic function of conversation and for sending SMS. The phone allowed 459 character SMS which was the maximum offered by any phone at that time. There was no camera, no internet, no FM radio or music player and nothing of that sort. It was a simple basic phone offering features like calculator, stop watch and four games. Bantumi was my favourite game and I often enjoyed playing it when I was alone, traveling. I dropped it several times accidentally from heights ranging from 6 to 12 feet but the sturdy handset could withstand shock and remained functional. I did not change it till it became non functional due to non-availability of its battery (BMC3 NiMH 900 mAH) once the original battery became dysfunctional. I tried a duplicate Chinese version but it did not work for even six months. It was in 2008 when I was compelled to give up using the set but I still have it with me as a memento. 
 
Nokia 3310
(image source: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Nokia_3310)

Nokia 3310 was my first love in the world of wireless telephony and I can never forget the proud memorable days I had with it. Since then I have used several handsets like Nokia 1200, 1661, 108(dual SIM), Spice QT-60, Intex GC5050. But the attachment I had developed with my 3310 was something unique. I have not yet used a smart phone but I feel the features offered by Moto E (2nd generation) are quite enormous compared to its price. It is probably the best featured smart phone available in India market at such an affordable price. I am looking forward to owning a MOTO E in near future. Hopefully, my journey to the world of smart phones will commence with the new Moto E. http://www.startwithmotoe.com/