September 28, 2006

Impact of SEZs!

Consider this.
While I appreciate and welcome the export-oriented Special Economic Zone that boosts the wider growth of the economy, it has always struck me as "at what cost?".
Taking away the farm lands, and erasing 1000's of acres to build concrete structures - what do we do to counter-balance the ecological, social and economic impact of this?

Taking away acres of farmland for SEZs definitely starts depleting the water table - to start with. It also adversely impacts the flora and fauna of the region. One of the positive solutions could be to make mandatory to create special agri zones - earmarking atleast 20% - within SEZ, to protect farming and provide all modern farming technology available to them. These would include providing amenities like deep bore-wells, water treatment plants.
Social impact of "haves" and "have-nots". Get the SEZ to depend on the agri produce of neighbouring villages. Also, allow for a "Farmer's Supermarket" kind of thing within SEZs. I feel this would start bridging the gaps, and help in local development. Allow for social development by first building schools with help of NGOs - let the corporate companies contribute to this at 100% tax-free; let these schools be vocational centers depending on the kind of industries that come up in the SEZs. Provide employment to atleast one member of every family, if the livelihood is to be affected by the forming of SEZs.
Economic imbalance created by the payout of market-price by the Govt to buy out the property. Any owned piece of land - either as investment or as mere wealth creation for the common locals becomes meaningless. The bureaucratic argument of "this piece of money will help them regain the piece of land elsewhere" may not be very applicable. First thing is the land-value appreciation in nearby areas. One of the solutions, I am thinking here would be to lease the land from the owner at the market price for say - 25 years or so. And renew the lease depending on the situation then - when even P. Chidambaram feels SEZs are paying off.
Prepare for SEZ Co-operative Banks and stores, in the lines of Grameen Banks model. Encourage the units within SEZ to use this bank for their salary accounts et al. Few more points to be added here, I am not clear about this right now.
Now how would we ensure establishing such measures? Any unit within SEZ would become operative only after there is a collective contribution for all of this. Or simply squeeze their u-know-where.

If such steps are not taken, SEZs would become another "Sardar Sarovar".

September 26, 2006

MCity to MCity

I was born and brought up in Triplicane.

Upto 12th Standard, I studied at Triplicane Hindu Senior School. After that, for my UG, I joined Loyola College – hardly 20 mins by bus. Then, I did my PG at Pondicherry University, staying in the hostel. No commutes then. After education, I got a job with S. My first posting was at Alwarpet office, just 10 mins in my TVS Super XL. From there, I shifted to Teynampet. Again, just 15 mins by a vehicle. I grumbled for having to travel up to Chamiers Road to pick up my wife, because it took 20 minutes then to reach home. I fought with HR, when they posted me to Tidel Park. I rejected applying in companies like W, iG, V and all, because they were so far off at Guindy.

Talk about the irony of life. Today I travel all the way up to Chingleput for my new job.

Yes, that’s where my new work place is…from Madras City to Mahindra City, or MCity as it is called. It is just before Chingleput Toll Gate, and just after Singaperumalkoil.

I commute 4 hours daily – minimum. Consider that with 8.5 hours to clock in, excluding a 45 minute break. Throw in the 7.5 hour sleep required daily. And a 45 minutes in the morning “getting ready for office” do. All I am left with is just 3 hours. And I do not want to compromise on those 3 hours – the time I get to spend with my family.

All the tall talks about work-life balance in this IT field is bull. Consider the 3 hours I get with my family. How can I squeeze in a routine of exercise – at least a simple walk - to keep my cholesterol levels down?

Yes, at office, I get to spend only 8 hours, but the long commute given the Madras City Traffic, or the less frequent train journey, it is not very favorable. Of course, the easier solution might seem to relocate to somewhere nearer to a railway station.

So what are the choices of areas do I have for relocation?

Egmore, Central, Park – is ruled out thoroughly – given the high non-residential index (NRI) of these areas.

Chetpet – has off-late become pretty commercial and costly on the better home side, while other areas are pretty much living in water problems.

Nungambakkam, Kodambakkam, T. Nagar – apart from mosquitoes, nothing else is really comfortable. And they have legendary water problems, pollution, noise levels et al. And very heavily congested, and lot of floating population too adds to the woes.

Saidapet, Guindy – lacks proximity to good schooling or off-hand medical facilities.

From St. Thomas Mount onwards, it becomes pretty mofussil Madras, with its own problems ranging from lack of choice of schools – barring a select few, lack of abundance of hospitals, low voltage forever, bad roads, mosquitoes – epitome of Chikunguniya, lack of access to recreational places, lack of eatout places.

So, can’t really contemplate shifting. Have to bear the brunt, and grunt!

September 15, 2006

Impressive Railways

Recently I had to undertake a trip to Bangalore, and I was so lazy to go to a Railway Ticket booking counter, stand there and get the ticket booked. The option of using a travel agent was also not enticing because of 2 reasons: bit high service charges, and no guarantee if the person really understood my requirement and will be able to quickly think and decide.
I had heard of IRCTC:The railways website for internet ticket booking. But the concept of tikcet getting couriered was a little tacky. I decided to check out the site anyway. And oh boy! What a surprise!!
They had introduced eTickets. The booking was a breeze, not too many information request to piss the person off. You could check availability and different ticket, class, seat type combinations. And what more, the ticket can be booked till the time of chart preparation.
The payment is through number of ways including Bank accounts, credit cards. Even EMI options. Yes, EMI options, specifically provided by some banks. A decent internet connection is all you need.
The cancellation and failed payment transaction refund was also a breeze. A confirmation email is sent to you, and the money is safely credited back to you even if a transaction fails.
They even have frequent flier type of thing in the name of "shubh yatra" scheme. Few tieups too. Railways is becoming tech friendly and savvy.
Just cool.
Next time you want to go on a train journey, log on to

September 14, 2006

Seven year itch

Dear S,
Though you were not my dream at first, I was forced to engage with you around eight years back. A year later, we formalised our relationship. It was a relationship, I entered with chastity, loyalty and lot of excitement and expectations.
It was interesting at first. Then slowly started getting drifty and tentative. You know I dont like tentativeness. So I asked for assurance and security. You promised all that, and added new dimensions to me. I felt absolutely great.
You were very supportive too, in my tough times. Like the financial need. Like my father's death. I got so sentimaentally attached to you.
But it is a different fact you didnt have same level of loyalty, nor did you display the fondness I expected from you. The relationship started turning sour.
Do you remember, 2 years back, our relationship got so bad, I wanted to simply walk away? But, you promised me so many things, and we had a change of location. It suited me well.
But then now 7 years have passed, and the 7 year itch has started getting on to me. I cant hold any longer. Every smal;l thing I get so easily agitated and irritated.
I think It is good for us to be separated now. You have so many people in your life now. I do have choices too.
I am getting onto a union with I on Sept 18.
It was a very nice relationship with you. But I want to move on.
Hope life gives the best for both of us.
Take Care
Good Bye!
PS: I recently resigned from my prev employer after a rather long stint at S. And this is my parting letter to S.

Peace unto you PS20!

I just dont know what to blog. This post is for One of our close friends, Shriram fondly remembered as PS20, after his roll number at Loyola College. We did our BSc (Stats) from Loyola College and belong to the "P" batch, and a real "P" in the "A" for our professors.
My son is named after several S(h)rirams I know, who all are very good people and absolutely great human beings. And of these, this PS20 is real special.
PS 20 : a very soft spoken and ever smiling boy.
He made his mark by getting the maximum number of BOOs in our college cultural show Ovations. He made himself famous by falling into the treacherous plot of making him sing "Nila athu vanathu melay", and our percusionist and other instrument players, who went onto to conduct their own piece of music for this song. PS20, not the one to give up so easily, went onto narrate the entire song, and still claimed to us "he actually sang"
Even today, when I called up some of my ex college mates, they remembered him as"yaaru antha kannadi pottundu, vudaama nayagan paattu muzhukka paadinaanay avana?".
When we went to meet him today, he just cudnt sing anything.
Thats because, this guy who joked about how he could get a tumour, when he didnt have brain at all, was in an Ice Box with his famous Smile.
Peace to your soul da.