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April 16, 2015

Awesome money spinning methods or Skimming of customers

Filed under: India, law, market, personal, social change — neosurya @ 12:00

Interesting call with my mobile phone service provider:

Me: I got this internet usage bill for Rs 700 for March and Rs 300 for Feb. What is this?

Rep: Sir, 2G internet usage sir.

Me: I use a Nokia 1616, it cannot have internet usage. —- For the new-gen folks who have only seen smartphones, this phone has buttons, 255-colors screen, you get the drift —-

Rep: Yes sir, my system shows you are using Nokia 1616 as we speak. But sir data is switched on in the phone.

Me: How can a Nokia 1616 use 400 MB of data?

Rep: I dont know sir. Maybe some app is running.

Me: Look, can you please disable 2G service on this connection?

Rep: No sir, 2G comes free with every mobile phone connection.

Me: Dude, Rs 700 a month is not free. And you tell me you will not switch it off?

Rep: You will have to move to a different service provider. Our company will by default provide you with 2G enabled connection only. — In other words, we paid a lot of money to TRAI to license this shit. Money has to be recovered from somehwhere. —

Me: OK. — Facepalm —

Rep: For the charges, you will have to visit our store. — A polite way of saying, You will have to go there and shout —

Me: OK. Thanks.

—————————————End of call————————————-

One of my friends used to work for a leading mobile service provider. One strategy to get more money was to call unsuspecting customers to install ring-tones, or other “value added services”, but not inform them that these services would have a costly monthly subscription, or that these services would be delivered over 2G. Maybe we fell prey to one such scheme. Maybe there was indeed some app on the phone that is accessing data. I dont know.

I did not like the business practice of cashing in on users not being able to switch off services. But, a lot of modern services run that way. Individuals who create such plans and schemes also make the most amount of money in corporate orgs. Of course, technical people make money. But it is peanuts compared to the money made by such planners.

Makes me retch. But who knows how I would behave if I wanted to buy the good things money can get, and I had only an MBA and a sales job to get me there?


June 21, 2010

Concrete development.

Filed under: gandhian principles, market, nature, news, social change — Tags: — neosurya @ 15:37

Visited a “green” venture by a local developer. The guy even asked us tips to make the place greener; they claimed that some folks from Canada had bought a 1 acre property there, and a businessman from Dubai was going to come in a day or two. One of us was an avid byker, The developer asked him for the brand of international bikes that would be appropriate for his brand. He had ducks in artificial ponds, ostriches, turkeys (from turkey)??? The place was guaranteed to develop, would give us great returns, he promised. Wonderful. On the return journey, we mulled over the development that was unfolding about 70 Kms from Bangalore and about 15 Kms from Kanakpura.

As we passed by the concrete pillars built on Outer ring road near Agara Kere, we wondered how “green” these were, and how green would the construction in the village near Kanakpura. BTW, there is no mention of the village on the developer’s website.

And, I also wonder how we became developing nations, and a few other countries became developed nations. Is it because of all the concrete, the air-conditioning, and all the medication that they are getting, or is it because of their obesity. I guess when all toilets in a country get air-conditioning, the nation can be called well-developed.

I remembered an article in the Hindu about how impoverished African refugees were being developed. Or were they?

In Kandikiti, where Jean Lupanga’s family lives, a group of 20 villagers won a $4,000 grant last year to start a pig farm to help orphans. The group bought nine pure-bred hogs, built them a residence nicer than those of most people and posted volunteers to guard it round the clock. They also bought 10 bicycles, vaccines for the pigs and paid their members to attend training sessions.

More than a year later, they have not sold a single one of the white, floppy-eared, European-bred pigs. In a village where scruffy local pigs trot freely among the huts, the group’s leader fell silent when asked who could afford such expensive pork.

And then, this article on corporate, colonial, and now Asian interests in Africa:

About Africa’s role in the world, the old colonial mindset seems to be alive and kicking. Recently a senior French minister called Africa “our El Dorado”, a legendary city of gold. France reportedly wants to ensure broader influence in Africa, seen as “a frontier for profit-making.” Many American, EU and Chinese companies seem to share this perspective.

Will Indian companies be different? Will they give to Africa as much as they receive from it, if not more? This is perhaps what Ratan Tata had in mind when he recently recalled that South Africa had been a victim of “exploitative and extractive enterprise”. He suggested that India and South Africa could have “a different relationship”, one based on mutual benefit and genuine partnership. His advice applies to all Indian companies operating in Africa, not just in South Africa.

August 11, 2009

Maruti suzuki presents Independace day special.

Filed under: India, market — Tags: , — neosurya @ 23:57

And the special is supposed to be sponsoring five movies on Star Movies. Nice… And I am pretty sure there are other Indian firms doing ditto. Problem with us is that the private industry needs to operate on a profit basis, and the Govt. will insist that profit is a bad thing. Hence private companies are always parasitic, and contribute little to nation/society building. This is very much unlike the GE, Siemens, Philips or other companies established elsewhere.

Profit can be good and it can be bad. But in our country, it necessarily has to be bad; the governing body is designed to penalize profit. Hence, profit turns into what it is in India; it makes everyone a market that is based only on goods that do not necessarily enhance society but parasite on it. I recently had a friend talk to me about the General Financial Rules, which indicate how the Indian Govt. must disburse monies. This was a good coffee chat, and a brief reading of the GFR confirmed what was told to me. The GFR is a complex set of rules designed to keep public money in public hands. I have a lot more to learn about grant fundings in India, but I am being told that it is extremely difficult to allow public money into private hands.

June 27, 2009

Land developer stories

Filed under: bangalore, market — neosurya @ 11:16

I had posted an ad on craigslist and sulekha for residential plots. I was intending on finding a small corner of Bangalore to possibly build a little house, get a couple of dogs, a few trees, and possibly even a cow if I get too lucky. Just kidding. Such madness is not possible in nearby Chikballapur these days, forget Bangalore. While one does see an occasional urban tabela in BLR, it would be foolish thinking on the part of mere mortals to live amidst nature.

Anyhow, a few folks responded. Most were brokers, quite ok chaps, but several brokers who advertized properties at an industrial estate really stood out.

Guy: “Sir, calling from XYZ [ cosmos / elegance / greens / some other space age term]. We have nice properties near Electronic city”

Me: “How far from Hosur road?”

Guy: “Just 12 km, centrally located in Jigani indl estate.”

Me: “Industrial estate… Jigani… It is too far, I am not interested…”. (I kind of knew the location, and did not want to move there.)

Guy (Calls back next day): “Sir, I should let you know we have a special offer on this property and will give you deep discounts if you purchase before XYZ date.”

Me: “Sorry, the place is too far and is more for investment. I am looking for something to move immidiately.”

Guy: “There is excellent development potential sir, several new companies coming up. Very close to major companies. HCL has a unit there, Biocon phase 2 is coming up and several pharma companies have offices there.”

Me (Thinking): “Did you say pharma companies??? Nice. Do you know where they dump their garbage??? Ever heard of Bhopal?”

Me: “Sorry, I am looking for residential property and closer to clinics, gas company, schools or other such facilities. I am concerned that it is close to an industrial estate.”

Guy: “Sir, it is just 16 Kms from Narayan Hrudayalaya, 8 Kms from Spice hospital. You can easily get gas connection from electronic city. I must also let you know that I just spoke with my boss, he also says that there will be a clinic inside the layout itself.”

As the discussion proceeded with some of these folks, real cakes were coming out. For everything I would ask them, they would have yes as an answer. People are routinely mis-representing facts, right at the first meeting. I wonder what I would have said if I were in similar circumstances and had to sell that piece of land to satisfy my wants.

March 30, 2009

Free trade

Filed under: market, politics — neosurya @ 08:24

Read an interesting post at cafehayek on Free trade.

Anyone skeptical of free trade must explain why political borders are economically relevant.  With the exception of pointing to (mostly rather vague and poorly considered) national-defense issues, protectionists have never managed — and I dare say never will manage — to impart genuine economic relevance to political borders.

Because all reasonably prosperous countries today impose no, or only very few, internal restrictions on trade, two facts stand: (1) free trade is in fact quite common, and (2) free trade is beneficial.

While this is very true, the devil is in details (as it usually is), and no country would eagerly grab this ideology. Humans never fail to revive their distrust and fear of each other. Today’s TOI had a front page report of how the Chinese Govt. had hacked into embassies of several countries all over the world (Times UK report). There was an editorial of how South Africa had denied visa to the Dalai Lama (BBC report).

My guess is that if left to their own schemes without large societies to mess with their thoughts, humans would be rather OK interacting with each other.

March 14, 2009

Market – and only market.

Filed under: Carl Jung, gandhi, gandhian principles, market, Sigmund Freud — neosurya @ 19:36

We had been to Satish’s farm last Saturday. Their story is similar to that of Srikanth and Priti at vanashree: I will not repeat the aspects of simple living and so on over here. It is better described at several other websites.

I wonder what would be the social implications if people take to such lifestyles on a large scale. Often, people say that such a simple life, or “the Gandhian way” is anti-development. I beg to differ. The way most “development” is designed right now, it is designed to only serve a “market”. The larger the market, the better the development. This cannot be the best model that our economists, researchers, and industrialists can come up with.

There has to be a middle ground between crass commercialization, market economy principles, and the North-Korea/Cambodia style defeatist principles. As for a window into current “market development”, it would help looking at a sample of the products that hit markets, I quote an article I saw on Onion:

== Begin quote ==
“Often, when we’re assigned a new order for, say, ‘salad shooters,’ I will say to myself, ‘There’s no way that anyone will ever buy these,'” Chen said during his lunch break in an open-air courtyard. “One month later, we will receive an order for the same product, but three times the quantity. How can anyone have a need for such useless shit?”

“I hear that Americans can buy anything they want, and I believe it, judging from the things I’ve made for them,” Chen said. “And I also hear that, when they no longer want an item, they simply throw it away. So wasteful and contemptible.”
== End quote ==

Of course, not all products are this bad. Some innovations are really useful. But much of it is junk, or given the environmental hazards posed, worse than junk :). The effect of a purely market economy can go deeper than creating junk. It subtly alters people to think that they are happy while indulging in products, and satisfying such an indulgence is most important for “life”. BBC had a series called “The Century of the Self”. It is a documentary about the understanding of human behavior vis-a-vis market economy and large businesses (Available on google video). The works of Carl Jung and Sigmund Freud make for very interesting reading here.

This is where Gandhian living kicks in. It focusses on people satisfying their basic needs through their own hard work, and looking for external resources only when absolutely needed. A typical argument against this lifestyle is that it stunts progress; Science is like evolution and needs to be done in baby steps (I agree with this). If one ventures to science only when absolutely needed, there will be disorganized, slow, or stunted development. For example, if vaccum cleaners were never invented, the “roomba“, an automatic vaccum cleaner would never have been invented. This is a very subjective argument for which a short answer is not possible. However, in the current era, it is easy to see that most science has been overtaken by a market phenomena. Too frequently, the fundamental technology, and even a study of its effectiveness at solving the stated problem gets much less importance than the buzz factor generated. It gets even more dangerous when profit becomes the prime driving force behind industry. A lifestyle that is focussed on only solving the most important problems will not let go of scientific advances completely. It may be a model that can eliminate mass-producing the “junk” that gets generated by intermediate results.

October 9, 2008

Industrialization, and the role of Asia….

Filed under: India, market, social change — neosurya @ 12:33

Was reading up on cars, looking for reviews of the Tata Indigo Marina, and ended up reading quite a bit about the nano. The following article had an interesting take on how Asian industrial revolution must take place:

Excerpts of some comments on the article are below:

“Kristina: It is a question of whether Asia is lured by the West’s highly charged, fully saturating consumer culture or is able to redefine economic drivers in terms of Asia’s own traditions. India’s heritage is so rich: The real innovation would be if that culture could inspire a new economy that is unburdened by all the mistakes and excesses of the West’s industrial age. To a degree, it’s already happening with the sharing and/or renting of computer and phone time within small Indian communities. ”

“Shbhatia: If Asia was left alone in the 1600s, it would probably still be society of peace loving, meditating, spiritual folks searching for the meaning of life, with nature keeping the population under check, in harmony with the environment. The problem is, anything that is sensitive to others, is deemed as weak by the West, and one thing that West does not know is to leave something alone. East is evolving much in response to the West and hence the correlation between the socio-economic models and the innovation patterns.”

PS: I have reproduced an article here, and do not know the copyright issues involved; If a reader knows that it violates a copyright, pleae let me know.

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