Archive for February, 2006

February 21, 2006

Outsourcing.. health check..!

I am heading expenses reduction program in leading financial institution. one of very first & easy ‘school-boy’ decision was to outsource/migrate work to India from one of the EU countries… well, you would imagine very simple & easy solution and in just months bottom-line will be impacted ($ save). right??.. answer WRONG… not to my surprise; Data-Protection authority of that specific EU country had rejected the proposal stating India is NOT safe

The recent controversy over British tabloid Sun’s purchase of confidential bank account details of some 2000 Britons from an employee of Gurgaon based BPO company Infinity E-Search has generated a lot of concern in the western countries over the data-protection issue. This comes close on the heels of the arrest of three former employees of Pune’s MphasiS BPO on allegations of siphoning off $350,000 from the Citibank accounts of four New York based account holders has sent shock waves across the Indian BPO industry. Some time ago, an Aligarh resident and employee of a Gurgaon based call centre, Arif Azim, was also taken into custody after he purchased a television set and a cordless phone using credit card data stolen from US customer Barbara Campa’s records. Although such isolated incidents are not specific to India and are not uncommon even in the US, they may just have given the dying US anti-outsourcing lobby a new lease of life.

India’s BPO success story is not entirely a fairy tale. The number of complaints received from the outsourcing western companies is growing especially with regard to the accent of Indian call centre employees, their not-so-humble attitude while dealing with customer queries and a laid-back attitude in solving their problems. The accusation that can have a far reaching impact for the stability and future of Indian BPO industry, however, is that private customer data is not safe in the hands of Indian BPO operators. This is indeed a serious development since the very foundation of the BPO industry is based on customer credibility and faith. If the bond of faith between the outsourcing companies and the service providers dwindles, it could well turn out to be the beginning of the industry’s downfall. China, Philippines and now even Pakistan would be happy enough to grab the BPO opportunity if India falters on this count. Our BPO companies are already feeling heat due to a stiff competition put up by a few aspiring IT powers and a rising attrition rate. We must, therefore, be pro-active in dealing with the new challenge before the data security issue takes a threatening dimension.

Considering the sensitive nature of the data safety issue in the west, however, the companies there leave nothing to chance in ensuring absolute protection of customer data.

In the absence of a solid legal framework, Indian companies take the standards-compliance root to assure their clients, and in turn their customers, that private data is fully safe in their hands. Many Indian companies implement international data protection standards, which ensure use of safe software, techniques such as data encryption, copy protection, intrusion detection systems, firewalls, anti-virus tools, network security, system security systems and monitoring systems and provide a well defined framework of dos and don’ts. Even then accidents do happen every now and then. Take the example of ISO 9000 certified MphasiS itself that has implemented a safety standard called SEI CMMI Level 5, hitherto considered as ‘invincible.’

It is high time that the government, Nasscom and the industry came together in taking solid, authentic steps to guarantee complete data protection to those it matters most. The sensitive issue cannot be handled by any of them in isolation. If the Indians are still not able to prove our credibility and trustworthiness to the outside world after being in such a dominant position in the BPO space for almost a decade, it would be highly unprofessional, unjustified, unfortunate and disastrous.

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February 20, 2006

just me thinking this way..!?

Every day ends with a smile, memory/experience yet begins with a surprise
I get on the tube and people just stare at the floor
The tube is so crowded, yet of course there is room for few more
The blue skies of summer are now replaced by the grey
I wish I could blow hard enough to chase them away
Sat here at work very late, a place where I don’t want to be
Yet it pays for the good times, where I can truly be free
The wrinkles get bigger; another hair turns from black into grey
Time flashes by like lightning across the sky
Our lives moving in the blink of an eye
Friends they come and friends they sure go
The good times are locked in our minds, we just go with the flow..

..may be life is not about choices, its all about priorities…

February 10, 2006

The Republic by Plato

Plato’s The Republic translation by Desmond Lee

Plato’s Republic is widely acknowledged as the cornerstone of Western philosophy. Presented in the form of a dialogue between Socrates and three different interlocutors, it is an enquiry into the notion of a perfect community and the ideal individual within it. During the conversation other questions are raised: what is goodness; what is reality; what is knowledge? The Republic also addresses the purpose of education and the role of both women and men as ‘guardians’ of the people. With remarkable lucidity and deft use of allegory, Plato arrives at a depiction of a state bound by harmony and ruled by ‘philosopher kings’.

The main discussion point is what makes the ideal society. According to Socrates (the main speaker) it would be totalitarian and undemocratic, Most people will disagree with this but it is a well argued point that shows that politicians in any age can never be anything but corrupt and challenges views that people may have about the correctness of democracy. This is more than just a book on politics. Society is also used as a metaphor for the individual and this book explores the nature of morality and living a just life as well as the nature of true goodness and true beauty. The concepts in this book are not easily grasped and it requires some re-reading but the effort pays off in the end. Some of the ideas may seem a bit obscure but this book still holds its own after two and a half thousand years

Book is done in a dialogue fashion, with the lead character Socrates (fashioned after Plato’s teacher, the great philosopher Socrates, although the words Socrates utters in this and many other Platonic dialogues are undoubtedly Plato’s own). There is a discussion on method (the Sophist Thrasymachus shows up early to make disparaging comments about the Socratic method) whilst trying to determine an adequate definition of justice, as well as a discussion on the virtues and/or utility of wealth and old age early in the text. Socrates moves the discussion of justice away from the individual toward the communal, and this is where the political philosophy gets played out in full.

Socrates, visiting Polemarchus’ house, enters into a conversation on the nature of justice. Several different definitions are presented by the various guests. After finding each of these lacking, Socrates attempts to define justice himself. This requires that he first describe justice on the scale of the state (or “The Republic”). Here, Socrates finds justice to be each person performing the task at which he1 excels. Since the modern “fevered” state necessitates soldiers, Socrates asserts that a method must be found to ensure that they do their job well. He then lays out a system.


Interesting parts of the Republic include the very early idea for equal rights and responsibilities for women, particularly in the guardian class. It is unclear whether Plato was aware of how self-serving his dialogue would seem, since his argument leads to the `natural’ conclusion that the only ones who could really be in charge in such an ideal city would be the philosophers. Plato is not an advocate for democracy, and pokes fun quite a bit at democratic structures; he similarly disapproves of most of other types of government (oligarchy, plutocracy, timocracy, etc.) – one can discern the frustrated politician here.

However, the real power of the Republic lies in Plato’s remarkable images and metaphoric stories in the second half of the dialogue. These include his expositions on theories of the Forms, and trying to explain what the Good is, and how humankind interprets such things. The images of the ship, the Sun, and the men in the cave are powerful images that have lasted in popular literature since the time of Plato.

List of Characters in the book

  • Socrates—narrator of the book.
  • Glaucon—son of Ariston (and brother of Plato, who does not appear). Presents the view that justice is something the weak attempt to force on the strong.
  • Adeimantus—brother of Glaucon. Describes justice as accomplished for its practical benefits. He and Glaucon are the only ones who respond to Socrates’ questions.
  • Polemarchus—host to the gathering at which Socrates speaks. He describes justice as giving others what they deserve.
  • Cephalus—elderly gentleman, Polemarchus’ father. He defines justice as honesty..

Call me crazy I find similarity with ‘The Matrix'(movie) – Plato’s analogy of the cave describes the mechanism by which our concept of truth can be usurped by our senses & social interactions. If you enjoyed The Matrix, you will probably be amazed at the insights of this book.

Anyone who is intersted in philosophy must read this book. From the natural ethic to the ideal state, this book has it all. I assure you that this book is not boring, but it is a masterpiece that should definately be read at least once in a life time.

February 3, 2006

History of the Middle Finger…

Well, now……here’s something I never knew before, and I feel compelled
to send it on to my more intelligent friends in the hope that they, too, will feel
edified.

Isn’t history more fun when you know something about it? Giving the Finger

Before the Battle of Agincourt in 1415, the French, anticipating victory
over the English, proposed to cut off the middle finger of all captured
English soldiers. Without the middle finger it would be impossible to
draw the renowned English longbow and therefore they would be incapable
of fighting in the future.

This famous weapon was made of the native English Yew tree, and the act
of drawing the longbow was known as “plucking the yew” (or “pluck yew”).

Much to the bewilderment of the French, the English won a major upset and
began mocking the French by waving their middle fingers at the defeated
French, saying, “See, we can still pluck yew!”

“PLUCK YEW!”

Since ‘pluck yew’ is rather difficult to say, the difficult consonant
cluster at the beginning has gradually changed to a labiodental fricative ‘F’, and thus the words
often used in conjunction with the one-finger-salute!

It is also because of the pheasant feathers on the arrows used with the
longbow that the symbolic gesture is known as “giving the bird.”
And yew thought yew knew everything.

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