Monday, September 27, 2010

Overall view on the Commonwealth Games - Delhi 2010

Amidst of all the negative media reports on the Delhi Commonwealth Games, one would almost forget what still is accomplished in a country where it's difficult to accomplish something, due to climate, culture or whatever.

Judge for yourself through this link.!/album.php?aid=2072464&id=1111507645&fbid=1563378840343

Sunday, September 26, 2010

The modelstate Belgium

or 'Belgium for dummies'

In this video, the organisation of the country Belgium is explained for whoever is willing to understand.

The main difference between the organisation of India and the organisation of Belgium is that India is complex in itself, but its organisation is a clear "laissez-faire, laissez-passer".
In Belgium the reality is simple, but the organisation makes it complex.

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Why India cannot loose the Commonwealth Games

Indians are so clever that you won't believe it. Typical in their thinking is the holistic approach to reality. The number of factors that an average Indian can include in his thinking, before actually deciding something, is not expressible with digits only. Several thousands of years the Subcontinent has been refining its approach to reality, adding each day factors and realities to the concepts of its worldview.

Don't be mistaken by the Gandhian ideology of peaceful resistance! Don't let the image of Om-chanting nice boys and girls influence your understanding of modern-day Indian competitiveness.

Because of their holistic approach of reality, competing with Indians is for people coming from lesser developed cultural parts of the world a hell of a task.

Take the Commonwealth Games...
We Westerners think it's about a sport competition, limited to a short period of two weeks in October 2010. We think that the competition is done by athletes dedicated to this task. And according to us, to organise such a big happening requires a series of actions in which one action causes a success or failure of the next action which is logically following the first.

What a simplification!
What a terrible underestimation of the Indian holistic competitive mind!
I've mentioned it before in one of the past blogs, in India they think: "White people work hard ... but they are soooo stupid! They just don't understand anything!"

In the Indian mindset, the competition for the Commonwealth Games started already from the moment they were assigned to Delhi, in 2003.
And by now, 22th of September 2010 and two weeks before the actual competition, the winner already is known!

For the readers coming from countries in the world with a lesser advanced understanding of human nature, I will explain this.

By first delaying all works related to the CWG and consequently distributing the news to the whole world about delays, corruption, unbudgeted costs, etc., India implemented a first climate of doubt in the hearts of all the competing countries. "Was it a wise decision to allot India these games? Are they able to properly organise such a big event?" were questions asked everywhere in member countries with a rather limited understanding of how a sports competition is to be undertaken.

Then, the more the Games date approached, the information coming out of India became more and more specific: "Only one third of all Games related works was on schedule" (spring 2010), "The CWG-song is not good" (August 2010), "The Games cost 3 billion dollars, compared to the 1 billion of Melbourne" (August 2010), etc.
Doubt in the hearts of athletes and sports representatives in the member countries with a lesser sophisticated view on sport tactics, changed slowly into disbelief.

A very strong attack on the morale of athletes was given by the Indian warning:
"Watch out for dengue!!!!! A lot of people died already!!!! You might as well be the next one!!! We doubt if we can fight this danger!!! We cannot protect you against it!".
The Indian competitors cleverly judged that especially western athletes, simple as they are in connecting competition in sport to health issues, are very sensitive to everything that is related to health. So the Indians expected that quite some athletes would give up on the Games. The Indians knew that their competitors would be confusing "getting an incurable disease" (which is a fate coming to us without our control - every Indian just knows this already in first grade!), with the "threads coming from highly spirited competition".

At this moment we are hardly two weeks before the Games should begin. What do you expect? The Indians now start showing the muscles of their holistic minds:

Three days back, the newly build Games Village was presented to the Chief Executive Mike Hooper, who was born and educated in a more philosophical backward Western country and thus never had the chance to develop a high sophisticated understanding of what is really going on in the world of competitive sports.
Of course whe cannot blame him for that. But he proofed to be no match for his Indian counterparts.

Before the said Chief Executive entered the Games Village, some carefully chosen Indians were ordered to go to the flats and to create some mess here and there. They were more specifically told to use the toilets without being too precise in targeting the pot. But of course not before the plumbery and sewage tubes were disconnected. This to maximise the effect of the sportive action.
The subtle suggestion was made as well to take along a few stray dogs which were relocated from locations far from Delhi, to add some momentum to the scene.

After inspecting the apartments, the Chief Executive told the whole world they were "filthy and inhabitable for human beings".

Can you imagine the demoralisation which occurs in simple-thinking and narrow-minded Westerners, who only have a limited and non-holistic knowledge of hygiene standards? When they realised that they would have to go to extremely dirty toilets during the games, the vaste majority cancelled their trip to the Spiritual Country! They all already heard earlier about Delhi-belly for sure!

In a strange reversal of the concept of outsourcing, some countries were even so disgusted that they ordered their athletes to chase away the dogs and clean up the mess themselves.
And which athletes were practising and training their sports without interruption during these cleaning efforts of the competing athletes? Indeed, the Indians!

Two days back a canopy erected at Nehru Stadium collapsed. How can I explain you the deep disturbing effect of this symbolic and highly competitive sportive action by the Indians? One needs to have a considerably deep insight in Hinduism to completely grasp this. I will give it a try:
The canopy itself was erected by the use of iron pillars. These pillars symbolise the male phallus. After a short erection and at the very moment everyone was thinking that they would stay firmly erected ... they came down! Can you really understand the very subtle symbolic meaning of this Indian attack on the Western limited mindset?

What a coincidence that in the previous weeks we did read in all Indian newspapers about the cohorts of sexy ladies of all skincolors available in the world (except Black) who were shipped from all corners of the country and even from across all Indian borders to Delhi NCR. To serve the athletes from abroad in all their carnal needs (and as we all know in the West: healthiness stimulates the carnal needs).
Many, many athletes REbooked their flight after reading these inviting and promising messages. Only one day after they cancelled their bookings in the previous phase of the Indian attack.
At that precise moment, the Indians let collapse the canopy ...

As if one cancellation was not good enough, the holistic-thinking Indian sport strategists forced these simple athletes to cancel their bookings for the second time within two weeks!

And all this was only realised by Indian Mind Power only. Without labour, without sweat, without even one Indian athlete being exhausted...

Yesterday a foot overbridge collapsed in the neighbourhood of Nehru Stadium. 27 labourers injured. The message to the athletes educated in traditional non-holistic physics? "In India we don't use the poor and rigid distinction between "above" and "below"". Just think for a while about what effect this destruction of the Western dichotomic pair "above-below" has on, for instance, the jumpers or the weightlifters.

Today the false ceiling at the Nehru Stadium preferred to follow the laws of gravity.

The Law of Gravity is for simple Western minds just what it is ... a physical law you can use to do all kinds of mathematical calculations and make predictions in physics. But in the hands of the Indian sportcoaches, duly educated in a holistic approach of reality, this law becomes a real weapon!

Tomorrow ...


Without any doubt, this Indian Master Plan of attacking the morale of athletes coming from societies which have only developed a very poor - should I say retarded? - understanding of reality, will be further executed in the next two weeks.

Then ... who will get the Gold, Silver and Bronze medals and all the rewards, you think ?
Right ...

Thursday, August 26, 2010

The "ethical" nature of Western companies

A while ago one of our clients, before assigning a job, explicitly told me that they wouldn't allow child labour in India for their jobs.

Of course this high noted and important condition is a give-away for us. Not many children are able to do the computer work we do. As a consequence direct child labour in our offices is unthinkable. In this respect I can just declare everything on a formal paper, so that the 'ethical' need of our client is satisfied. This formal declaration probably lands on a Western desk and will be used for all kinds of marketing purposes.

At the same time however, when you analyse this condition and what's behind of it, the picture isn't so clear any more:
- the ethical condition this client poses doesn't lead to a choice to pay more for the services, at any time he will choose for the cheapest service provider, probably also forced by the current economical crisis going on;
- though direct child labour is easily avoided in our kind of services, the jobs go within India to the lowest possible salaries and the cheapest employees whenever applicable. These employees are all parents. They have to feed their kids and try to collect enough money for their education;
- to be able to do this for their own kids, they lay a high financial pressure on the lower social classes providing services for them; often it leads to a situation where the children in these social classes don't receive any formal education any more and even are forced to do all kinds of low paid jobs to support their family. At the bottom - and I'm talking here about at least 50% of the Indian population - there's only poverty;
- even the lifes of what we could call the social middle-classes is in India always at the edge, and nowhere comparable to what we call 'middle-class' in West.

The whole capitalist system with its typical financial cascade of degradation towards the lower classes is producing poverty and inhuman situations in a structural and systematical way.
This system is invented, implemented and refined by the West and all companies participating in it.

To limit this issue to a formal declaration of the very specific moral objection of 'no child labour' and using the same for marketing purposes in any way, is highly hypocritical and opportunistic. It only serves the own targets.

I include some photographs taken in Gurgaon at a walking distance from our office.
I think I'll never get used to this, neither do I know how to handle it.

Perhaps I should go and ask the people in the pictures to sign me a formal statement that they won't do bad things to the pigs, dogs and cows who live with them on the waste belt, before I let them process my own waste.

Sunday, August 15, 2010

On Independence Day

As I often proclaim in my blogs, reality always wins over all virtualisations of it.

Much is said about the colonisation and the influences of it on the local cultures.
Objective observations lead to the general conclusion, that once the colonisators left the colonies, the independence of the latter has not led to prosperity for their populations. Often these countries fared not well, as can be seen in Congo, once a Belgian colony, and India, one of the British colonies as we all well know.

As one struggles to understand nowadays India, one of the historically evidenced British policies is to be taken seriously into account: Macaulayism.
The word 'Macaulayism' is derived from the name of Thomas Macaulay, an English poet and politician who lived from 1800 till 1859. In 1830 he became a Member of British Parliament and as such he influenced the Brits India-politics to a great deal.

From his political testament two attitudes towards own and local (colonised) cultures are striking:

1) The superiority of the colonisator's culture

These are his words: "I have no knowledge of either Sanscrit or Arabic. But I have done what I could to form a correct estimate of their value. I have read translations of the most celebrated Arabic and Sanscrit works. I have conversed, both here and at home, with men distinguished by their proficiency in the Eastern tongues. I am quite ready to take the oriental learning at the valuation of the orientalists themselves. I have never found one among them who could deny that a single shelf of a good European library was worth the whole native literature of India and Arabia. The intrinsic superiority of the Western literature is indeed fully admitted by those members of the committee who support the oriental plan of education.”
Another citation: "It is said that the Sanscrit and the Arabic are the languages in which the sacred books of a hundred millions of people are written, and that they are on that account entitled to peculiar encouragement. Assuredly it is the duty of the British Government in India to be not only tolerant but neutral on all religious questions. But to encourage the study of a literature, admitted to be of small intrinsic value, only because that literature inculcated the most serious errors on the most important subjects, is a course hardly reconcilable with reason, with morality, or even with that very neutrality which ought, as we all agree, to be sacredly preserved. It is confined that a language is barren of useful knowledge. We are to teach it because it is fruitful of monstrous superstitions. We are to teach false history, false astronomy, false medicine, because we find them in company with a false religion."

I don't think the tendency of these words need to be explained. Nowadays westerners should be very aware that their self-proclaimed cultural 'superiority' is in fact possibly leading to the destruction of mankind and even earth.

Despite our western 'enlightened', 'French-revolutionised' and 'scientific' thinking, western culture has simply no clue how to behave in a world which is bigger than what the mind can grasp and control.
All signs are there that in one or another way western culture lost something along the way, by limiting thinking to rational and serial thinking, to the execution of plans, assuming that the world, including societies, are rational in se.

Of course, Thomas Macaulay was a child of his time. He could not know then that his conviction of western 'superiority' would be refuted two hundred years later by the outcome of it in reality.
Nevertheless, such convictions have proven to be false by the effects.
Though I'm not religious myself, I consider the current culture in the west and it's basic assumptions to not contain enough elements any more to provide an effective (in reality) and (thus) truthful world view. Ratio, logic, serial thinking, the omission of all religious elements and traditions in thinking can only lead to an artificial view on humans and societies.
And we all know by now to what this kind of artificiality leads.

2) The destruction of cultures by the British colonisators

While the cultural colonisation of Belgian Congo was inspired by the Catholic religion, the British colonisator seems to have taken a more practical, organisational and logical-rational approach.

Thomas Macaulay's words: "It is impossible for us, with our limited means, to attempt to educate the body of the people. We must at present do our best to form a class who may be interpreters between us and the millions whom we govern; a class of persons, Indian in blood and colour, but English in taste, in opinions, in morals, and in intellect. To that class we may leave it to refine the vernacular dialects of the country, to enrich those dialects with terms of science borrowed from the Western nomenclature, and to render them by degrees fit vehicles for conveying knowledge to the great mass of the population."

After 60 years of independence, India still seems to doubt between its Hindu/Muslim/Sikh/Jain/... deeply religious culture (I explicitly take the same stand towards all religions you find here) and this western ideology of "western taste, opinions, morals and intellect".
One can feel throughout the society that Indians are teached to admire the 'superior' white culture. One can feel daily that the result of this is kind of an 'underdog' sentiment towards the own identity, which leads often to a exaggerated and wrong-placed arrogance in fields which are not to the point.

Indians are quite easy-going and optimistic in nature, which is one of the great pleasures to be here. For everything there's a solution given that you have the time to interact with people. Indians themselves express their basic attitude as "To Live and Let Live".

I think that this basic Indian attitude is the reason why this Macaulayism in the organisational levels is still so apparent.
But ... we see the effects of colonisation and 60 years of Macaulayist independence: the country quickly evolutes into pure chaos.

I have asked this in previous blogs: Where are the (religious inspired) Indian intellectuals able to make a cultural synthesis of this beautiful religious heritage and to outline a blueprint for self-defined development of this country. Take the good things from the West, but for God's sake don't deny and abuse your mainly Hindu/Islamic heritage.
1.2 billion people are depending on you and will support you.

Don't reach out to become a weak copy of a perceived and manipulated image of the west.
Search for India's soul with your common people instead.

When will India's soul become truly independent?

Friday, August 13, 2010

Only money can be a motivator

From the stories I heard last half year, the Indian embassy in Belgium is making more and more problems in granting some types of visa to candidates from abroad. Though my wife and I never found any problem with this, recently we faced the same hindrance in developing our Indian business further.

A while ago I received an email from a young Belgian who travelled for several years throughout Asia, including two years in India. Apart from that he also worked two years for a local publisher in Sri Lanka, as a volunteer.
Though he has had a good education in IT and psychology, he did only work in several companies to provide him money for his travels. So he had no real career or anything yet.

But he fell in love with India and became attracted to Indian yoga and spirituality.

A year after his return to Belgium, he starts considering to move to India, so he was looking around for a job there. So he found us through Google and emailed us with the question if we could use him in our Indian office.

At first I was afraid about him being one of those late-born hippies: long hair, smoking pot, the type which has problems to concentrate on anything except finding money for the next dose.

Still, while in Belgium in July, we decided to invite him for a meeting. And his motives and expectations were very realistic. I told him clearly, as he had no real work experience and no knowledge about the job, that I could only offer him like I would offer to any Indian fresher. Of course this candidate had a very important and valuable skill for the company: speaking Dutch.
He accepted my offer.

A week later, I had prepared all the documents, the invitation letter and the labour contract which were needed for him to apply for an employment visa in India.

Ten days later I get an email from him: Indian embassy refuses the visa on the basis that his salary is too low.

So I do a second proposal, in which I offer him the absolute maximum which I could possibly give to the best Indian candidate. Again all papers were send to the Indian embassy.

Again ten days later the Belgian candidate gets a direct phone from someone from the Indian embassy. He was asked why he was interested to accept a job at such a low salary if he "can have at least double in Belgium". He answered: I want to build a career and a life in India because I love your country.

The embassy-administrator answered:



My questions to the Indian embassy and to Indians in general:

- Do you support the statement that "Money is the only motivator" ?

- Do you really understand the negativism in the image of India that such embassy personnel is sending out ?

- Do you really support western companies to positively discriminate white people and thus discriminate Indians ?


To a simple westerner like me the situation is clear:
- If a white employee wants to accept a job at Indian conditions, but he has a skill that I could not find in India in the past 5 years, then the candidate is valuable. This does not mean I can use him profitably immediately, but we will teach him, just like we do every other Indian. As a consequence he should not be payed more than any other Indian entering the company;
- Motivation is very subjective in nature. The salary is only a small part in the total experienced remuneration. I'm still especially proud on the fact that no employee left out of free will our (small) company to work for another company;
- If I were an Indian myself, I would be proud on my country if people from abroad would be willing to live in these conditions out of interest in Indian culture. Not so the Indian officials!!!!!!! What image of India are they sending out to the world?
- It becomes for me increasingly clear that the Indian happy few are just despising India's culture and that it's their own responsibility that the society quickly evolutes to a grab-and-greed culture!

According to me, the embassy statement "Only money can be a motivator" implies the following:
- Indian officials are NOT proud on their culture;
- Indian officials are trying to discriminate Indians voluntarily;
- Indian officials are promoting a wrong image of India to the outer world;

Hopefully the expressed statement by one of the Indian embassy officials is only a personal opinion (which I doubt though), I demand apologies from this official in the name of India and its population!

Sunday, August 8, 2010

SMS terror

Despite telling Airtel already long ago that she does not want to receive marketing sms messages, this is the list of sms-messages my wife received on Saturday 7th August 2010. I myself don't carry a mobile in India anymore, as it disturbs me constantly from what I'm doing.

from: Airtel
Your approx. unbilled usage as on 07/08/2010 00hrs is 0.9(excludes monthly charges/roaming usage/discounts). Actual amount will reflect in the next bill.

from: a friend
A friend with mobile no. 7501621236 has sent you a sms. To stop receiving sms, visit Register at & send FREE SMSM across INDIA

from: TD.NoidaExt
Now Launched Noida Extn's Most Presigious Project CHERRY COUNTY frm makers of Olive County & Orange County. Indirapuram. Contact. bookyourflat@9891172286

from: TD.InvestCL
Supertech launches "CAPE TOWN" at Sec 74,Noida * 2BHK 23,4 lac (al inclusv) * 3BHK 30.2 lac (al inclusv) * Adjoining 100 acres park. SMS IP to 54999

from: TD.DryClean
DRYCLEAN@40.any fab wearable.even blankets/curtains. Top up your existing pkg or opt for new.Available till 10/8/10 by just paying 1000 for 20 articles t/c apply logon to or call 'SUPER' drycleaners at 9999369369.9999742742.9999752752

Enjoy Happy Family Holidays with Club Mahindra! Sign up & get FREE 32 inch Panasonic LCD TV + 7 days internatnl holiday. Call 9958141043 / sms HOLIDAY to 54545

J.P. launches Kensington Boulevard. Apart@2850/ft on DP next to Golf Course & Knights. Court@5670/ft. on the GOLF COURSE on Noida X-way. 2/3/4 bhk. SMS JP to 53456

from: TD4ReadMe
Studio Appartment @rs 4.95 lacs only.30 Mins Drive Away from Gurgaon. Reknowned Builder. Limited Units. For best deal and Location call now 9910417501.9718863121

from: TD.SALON
L'Oreal Presents "INOA" HAIR CoLoR giving u a superior result. Call/Visit: SONIA's HAIR BEAUTY MAKE UP STUDIO. DLF-CITY II, GURGAON. 9811031773

from: TM-Univ18
University18 Announces One Year Online Executive MBA, MS (IT) Programs for Working Professionals in India & Singapore. SMS U18 to 56070 to know more.


I stop here, but if you - being my highly estimated reader - think that you miss some very interesting offer from the afternoon, don't hesitate to contact me.
You can simply call 9811031773 or SMS U18 to 56070 to know more.

Friday, August 6, 2010

Anamika suffers

Corruption is in India not something which is hidden.
Corruption is the way the whole country is organised !
In India, it is supported by the State itself and by the higher social classes!
And as a result ... Anamika suffers.

The Indian money on Swiss bank accounts can pay back India's total statedebt thirteenfold. Read the article of which I placed the link at the bottom.
While Anamika suffers.

When I start talking about the shame of poverty, Indians often reply: "I'm sure you mean to do good, but you don't know anything about India." (they are right of course - what do you expect?)
Another popular reply from Indians: "If you don't like it the way it is here, then leave the country."
Some say: "Well, India IS a poor country, and the poverty is caused by the Brits."
My only reply can be then: "I pay my taxes, so I think I have the right to express my opinions."

This grab-and-destroy culture on State-level absolutely needs to be addressed by the rich and powerful in the first place! They even don't need to change their attitude for the sake of morals. Morals has even nothing to do with it!
I refer to the fact that Social Security in Europe was started by the upper classes out of fear for the spread of physical diseases and other motivations originating from self-interest.

No matter what image of India Indians are upholding towards people from abroad who move from 5-star hotel to fancy continental restaurant and back. No matter what Embassy employees, living in farm houses of which the monthly rent is higher than a
yearincome of an average Indian family, show in their expensive brochures to promote India as the "evolving market where you need to be present".
India is a country which is NOT (yet?) ruled by law, justice, rational organisation and compassion.
It is ruled by greed, envy, self-interest, moneypower and destruction.

And so ... Anamika suffers.

It will take still many decades to change this.
What is the planning in this respect?

Can somebody explain me how this way of organising a society is
doing honour to such a rich Hindu-culture? Or am I wrong asking this question?
Does Hinduism perhaps lack a moral chapter and aren't there ethical implications in the religion which can support a better organisation of this society?

To end the suffering of Anamika.

India still has to find its own soul.
Where are the intellectuals? Are they merely thinking about their own pockets instead of standing up for Anamika? Is it necessary for them to keep there left eye focused on the West while directing their right eye only to what is potentially career-threatening for them?

How long can Hinduism be misused and raped by the upper classes to divert Anamika's sentiments away from reality?

How long Anamika still needs to suffer?


I want to explicitly say that of course I am a big hypocrite myself.
The human condition seems to be as such that hypocrisy can not be avoided.
It's the human way of handling unbearable reality.

The purpose of many of my blogs is NOT to bring down or bash India, as some of my Indian readers might think. We only need to go back 70 years to find in Europe pure barbarism ruling.
We only have to go back two years to blame the Western economical model for causing the global financial crisis, which now leads to so much suffering everywhere in the world.
I won't mention here the western imperialism and colonisation period ...
Indians and Congolese to name only two, can do a far better job in analysing the cruelty, destruction, robbery and suffering which has been caused by the European countries.

I only have to go back to my own youth, 30-40 years, when my father who had a business never got a fine from the police in Belgium, because he was offering them other 'services'.

Corruption is NOT invented by Indians, it seems to be an inevitable phase in a developing society.

However, I personally don't like virtualisation of reality when this leads to conservatism and status-quo. I believe Hitler's Germany lived in a virtual world. I also think the financial system lived in a virtual world. And I'm pretty sure the colonisators lived in a virtual world.
And my own poor father could not help going broke during the oil crisis of '73. No matter how much money was laundered (indeed, he was in the laundry business).

They all pushed reality at one or another point too far.

It is my conviction indeed that, at the end, reality always takes back its lawful rights.
Without hypocrisy or ethics.
To end Anamika's suffering.


From Times of India, 7th August 2010

About the amount of Indian money deposited in Swiss banks
click here

People from Gurgaon

No parking ! Police control !

Thursday, August 5, 2010


A homeless father with his daughter, selling selfmade ... birdhomes.
He must have heard that Real Estate is a booming business in Gurgaon !

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

Gurgaon, the Millennium City

Gurgaon is the city we based our small company in.
Five years back they told us: "It's a posh place". I never understood what they meant. As a small company we didn't have the means to lease an office in the few new MNC-buildings. We had to go with the regular places, where also normal people are living.

During the years I have seen:
- lots of big projects coming up, including thousands of skyscrapers
- these skyscrapers are for a big part not used, as can be seen from the few lights that are burning inside the flats in the evening
- though flyovers have been constructed, and a metro, the quality of the regular roads is really pathetic
- the city gets more and more crowded with people, vehicles, ...
- lease prices going up till 2008 and collapsed in 2009 (according to me to never come back to the old levels)

Though my wife and I considered for a while buying some property in Gurgaon, I'm very happy that I didn't take the risk. You can just see how much cheating, stealing and robbery is going on with these constructions.
Buying a flat in Gurgaon? With the levels of maintenance accepted by Indian people ? Not in a million years ! It's lost money.

The video from this link clearly describes what is going on. The report is in Dutch but you can easily follow the video by the witnesses.

I will not mention the social inequality which is apparent everywhere, but not shown hard enough in this video:
There's the woman pretending to find no single beggar. However, if I myself walk ten minutes from my office, then I see hundreds of families living on a waste belt. I will shoot some photographs and place them here one of the next days.
The same woman tells openly that "her maid is not allowed to leave the compound". Now the shown maid is an adult but in India the majority of maids are just kids below 18. In my eyes that is sheer child-slavery.
It's very disturbing to hear Indians talk openly about this shame!

I hope they will be able to enjoy their Commonwealth Games.

Saturday, June 12, 2010

Can curiosity kill the cat?

I read today, Sunday 13th of June 2010, in the paper this intriguing crime-question: "CAN THE TWEET KILL THE BOOK?".

My mind wanders away and several other questions arise.
Can Facebook kill the book? (2008)
Can the internet kill the book? (nineties)
Can the television kill the book? (eighties)
Can the movie theater kill the book? (twenties-thirties)

More questions come up ...
Can the digital camera kill the analog camera? (nineties)
Can the computer kill the typewriter? (eigthies)
Can the email kill the phone? (eigthies)
Can color television kill black&white? (sixties)
Can the car kill the horse? (end nineteenth century)
Can the bulb kill the petrol lamps? (19th century)

What would questions like these actually mean ...
Would somebody ever have the idea of asking them before
they actually happened?
Can Cliff Barnes kill JR? (asked in 1979)
Can Oswald kill Kennedy? (asked on 21th November 1963)
Can Union Carbide kill 15,000 people? (asked on 2 December 1984)
Can BP kill the leak? (before there was one)
Can Cobain kill himself? (before he actually did)

What about these questions ?
Can the laptop kill the desktop?
Can sex kill the Roman Catholic Church?
Can the car still kill the train?
Can online ecucation kill the classroom?
Can becoming an adult kill your youth?
Can Google kill Microsoft?
Can DDT kill the insect?
Can copper kill iron?
Can iron kill stone ?
Can China kill democracy?
Can money kill love?
Can Symantec kill the computervirus?

Some questions can become really dangerous if you would start digging too deep:
Can my wife kill my marriage?
Can the Indian politician make a killing?

There's only one real and meaningful question.
Knowing the answer to it is necessary, before you look for other answers.

Friday, June 11, 2010

Online Banking with ICICI (PART 1)

I can't help it, but I keep having continuous problems with using the on-line banking website of ICICI.
I think I'm entitled to call myself an experienced computer user, but despite all my endless efforts and my nights of studying the on-line banking system of ICICI bank, all these efforts have been in vain till now.
I had to apply 6 times (this is not an exaggeration from my side!) for new login credentials before somebody at ICICI found out that their website is not supporting Mozilla Firefox ! It took 4 months before I finally could log in.
I found out afterwards that it IS supporting Firefox after the first login however.

Since then my experiences with ICICI on-line banking have been worrisome. I try constantly to pay my bills electronically, like the lease every month. Let's follow the first step in this process: logging in.

I go to The result is this impressive screen:

Forced by my never-ending quest for money, first thing that catches my eye is the 5000rs cash back offer. For a short moment my mind already dreams about offering my wife a good meal-with-meat in one of the many hot spots in Gurgaon. I will make quite an impression on her if I will pay the bill from my own pocket. So I start to read. Damn, again I need to spend much more money first before getting the 5k. Based on experimental evidence I decide to not ask my wife for that money. I'll have to find other ways to impress her.

After reading all the options in the screen and doubting a bit which button will open the Gates of Eden, I realise suddenly what I was about to do: paying a bill asap.
So I press the "Personal" button under "Login" at the left side of the screen, as I don't consider myself in a corporate state today.
What would you expect? Right: a login screen where you can input your credentials.

Not at ICICI bank though. This is the page that shows up:

"Important alert" the message screams into my face. I read it cautiously since it's important. Wow, I got to hurry myself if I want to pay my landowner. ICICI will finally upgrade their on-line banking system. Huh ? Upgrade ? No: only maintenance they will do. And they need 18 hours for it ! Tomorrow already ! So I really need to hurry up. My deadline starts to count before I even got started... Even finishing this blog will be impossible, as I have so much to say about the ICICI banking system.

Then there's the safety notice. Hmmm, what to think about thàt? Do they have safety issues perhaps ? It seems so. Is it dangerous to enter this site ?

I don't know what kind of personality you, reader, have, but I myself don't like to have to click twice on a "login" button. To me, this is like I want to enter a restaurant where the guard holds you, tells you that tomorrow they're closed but that you'll be safe with them, and then asks you if you still want to enter the restaurant now that you know that they do everything they can to ensure your safety. I would spontaneously think then that something must be wrong entering that place.

"Tony, keep your nerves. You were going to pay somebody and you'll be able to do it in a safe way. Even if you refuse the 5000rs we would like to give you". So I press "Continue to login".

A separate pop-up appears.
"WHAT ? A POP-UP ? Is this safe ?"

Again an important Security Notice from ICICI. I need to check 3 security controls.
The first step asks me to check the URL. Seems to be OK. The URL in my browser shows exactly what is described, but what security check is this ? Any pirated popup could tell you: "Ensure the following before logging in: 1. URL address begins with http://...." after which they fish for your credentials. The security-aware reader will have noticed that I deleted the "s" from "https://"

I'm becoming very worried now ... what kind of security advice is this?

"Let's be brave, Tony. You've come to India to live here and you cannot succeed without trusting the Indian ways of doing the things. So, don't hesitate and go to the second security check."

"2. DO NOT ENTER login or other sensitive information IN ANY POP UP WINDOW."
WHAT ? This login-pop-up is telling me NOT TO ENTER my credentials in any pop up window ? They must be kidding, right ?

As I'm dead sure now that some Russians are waiting for me at their side of the cable to enter my login and other sensitive information into this pop-up, I quickly press the QUIT button.

I think I'll write a cheque.

(blog to be continued when I feel ready to climb further this Himalayan website)

Monday, May 31, 2010

Ten years ago

I remembered suddenly that more or less ten years ago I explicitly forbid my daughter to wear a small nose piercing. What I cannot remember however, is the exact reason why.

This photograph was shot at a wedding ceremony near to Nainital.
The number of small jewels at the bottom of the ornament is representing the number of sons the woman has, they told me. After counting them, I doubt however that is true. Anyway, who cares, it's a nice story and these are beautiful people for sure.

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Belgian Belly

or ... the Revenge of Mother India

After years of complaining about the danger of eating Indian food and warning visitors against eating out in India, I managed to give my wife, myself and - that is worse - a business partner a hefty "Delhi belly" (= infection of the intestines with diarrhea).

Indeed, finally we moved to a more homelike office with a good kitchen in it. So we bought everything we needed to start cooking ourselves.
The first meal on my planning was a spaghetti bolognese. In absence of a minced beef/porc combination (after all: this is India), I thought that a goat/chicken combination would be tasty.
Well, tasty it was! Even so that my wife, our guest and myself did eat a good amount of it.

After the meal our guest had to head to the airport, which is only half an hour from our place. And by the time he must have arrived there, my wife and I both already had gone to the toilet twice.
I can assure you that I never saw more sense in having a toilet connected to each bedroom than in this situation.

I didn't dare to think about the condition of my guest.
But on Monday morning I heard that he had been so sick during the flight that he almost fainted a few times ...

So far my first experience of cooking myself in India.

The moral of this story ?
I think I will watch my words a bit when discussing things happening in Mother India as she seems to have her own strange (I cannot use the word "subtle" for this) ways of taking revenge.
I feel that she told me very clearly: "If you're such a big shot and you think you know everything better, then proof it to me before criticizing my people!"

My belly whispered to me for two long days: "Didn't you ever think there are reasons why Indians are how they are and do what they do".

Always be aware for the good advices from expats: they always are based on limited experiences and consists of stupid generalisations. This applies as well to everything you can read in my blogs.
Perhaps these attempts to rationalise, explain, find reason and give advise are all nonsense.

As Westerners we prefer to live in the illusion of rationalistic control above to cope with the irrational aspects which are there in life.
I can easily refer to the movements of the stock markets nowadays and the endless analyses of the same by "professionals". Especially the short half-hour panic last Thursday in which the stock markets in the US fell almost 10% in just half an hour. Despite all the computerisation, giving the illusion of full control, this illusion is confronted hard with reality whenever something unexpected happens (a human error?). It looks like the illusion itself is even causing the unexpected!

Mother India confronts you with many aspects of life overlooked in the "developed" world. It's my honest belief that Hinduism is the reason behind that fact (there I go again !).

The world should cherish Hinduism !

Sunday, May 9, 2010

The waiting Indian

One of the things that came in my mind lately was that I observe Indian individuals often have problems with serial thinking. When confronted with a rather complex task, a lot of Indian individuals are unable to analyse the task into logical/serial steps to take. Of course this depends a lot on the length and quality of their education.

Because splitting up complex tasks in parts (process/serial-approach) is a common practice in Indian businesses, a manager can be fooled to think that serial thinking is typical and well-accepted in India.
Well, it isn't.

The problem in the Indian approach is that every step in the serial chain is assigned to separate individuals. Often the employee who is active further in the serial chain has no idea at all what is happening before him or what is done with his work after him. I often experience that they don't even care about the broader picture. It's like if Indian youth is trained to do a well-described individual task. Without an explicit order from someone higher in the hierarchy, nothing is done or undertaken.

As a consequence the Indian employee prefers always to have a written-out procedure. If such a procedure is available, then of course he follows this procedure meticulously until a slight variation is needed. Suddenly, the guy then is paralysed and doesn't know what to do or how to proceed any more. This paralysis is a bad thing, because in combination with a strict hierarchical work organisation, often the guy doesn't dare to ask for advice or take a decision except when it is decided by his direct superior. If that superior is not available right away, the employee tends to wait until he is available again.
Such a scene can take hours.

Indians have a special talent for the broadly practised Indian activity of waiting. In fact, they have to wait their whole lives.
- When they are born, they have to wait between 1 and 12 months to be given a name;
- When going to school, they have to wait every day to see if their teacher shows up;
- About the time their hormones start to demand attention, they have to wait till their parents tell them it's about time to marry someone of their parent's choice. Often then they have to say farewell to their lovers and wait for the suffering to end while they are married already to someone else;
- In supermarkets they have to wait in endless chaotic "rows" and every time an article is not labelled (which I estimate is the case with more or less 5% of the products sold) the waiting can extend to almost an hour. I experienced this myself one more time yesterday, when "a problem occurred" and all 7 of the cashiers left their row and went staring at the problem "being solved";
- In traffic they discover that buying a four wheeler is perhaps good for their status, but not good for reaching the place quicker;
- Once they got their degree and are full of expectations to land in a good job, they have to wait before they find out that the heralded 8% growth a year can't make even 20% of Indian youth get a suitable job;
- If any decision must be taken, however small it may be, they wait till the whole family discussed it and agreed;
- They wait for the power cut to end, they wait for the next water supply, they wait for their wives speaking again to them after a fight, they wait till summer's over, they wait for winters to end, for the next promotion, for the next salary increase, for the fast to be over ...;
- They wait for a Sir, a Boss, an American or a Crore Pati to give them a positive remark, they wait for a radical change in karma, they wait for Ganesha to notice their life, ...

They dream about a better life for their kids.

They are waiting for an Indian summer.

The Italian man who went to Malta

If an Italian visiting Malta already faces such problems, then you can imagine what communication problems an expat in a completely different culture can have.
Very funny audio.

The Italian man who went to Malta ...

Saturday, May 1, 2010

To die and let die

Indians like to describe the basic attitude in their society as "To live and let live". I think however "To die and let die" is a more honest description.

Indian people have learned to live without power supply.
"Na problam Sir !"
"We just buy inverters, batteries and if possible gensets to overcome the problem. Who needs power anyway? Around 50% of our population still lives without power at all! So we are the lucky ones, Sir. You must understand Sir that supplying of power is technical difficult to achieve: 25% of our installations go down regularly because they are so difficult to maintain. Sir, we know that our good government is providing budgets for maintenance, but of course the administrators also need to buy food for their kids."

They know how to live a few days without water.
"Na problam Sir !"
"Even in cities like Gurgaon which can be considered part of the Indian capital Delhi, we have organised water distribution in 25 liter bottles ourselves. Every morning 6 hours sharp you can even go to a distribution point to buy your bucket of water ... but please, bring your own bucket. It's 1km maximum from your home. If you would like to, I will walk the way for you."

They are used to pay high admission fees to get their kids to a decent school.
"Na problam Sir !"
"If we can pay at all, we pay even for admission in a good private school. How else can we be sure that our kids really get teached. It was still last week in the paper: classes in a public school were being used for doing laundry and served as sleeping rooms. What else can our kids do if 50% of the public school teachers don't show up anyway, Sir ?"

"They are accepting they have to pull out substantial amounts of money to get even the most evident things done by state administrations."
"Na problam Sir !"
"We try to do as less administration as possible, Sir ! But in most cases, the administrator is a good man: he charges himself less than what I would have to pay officially to get the same thing done ! If you look at it this way, then these administrators are real fine social servants, Sir."
"Need a driver's license, Sir ? Ah, I can deliver you one Sir. Don't try yourself ... that would become very costly for you, Sir !"

They learned to live with policemen taking small sums in exchange for more expensive fines.
"No problam Sir !"
"Our police is very honest, Sir. They're always ready to discuss things. And those good men always charge less than what the fine would cost me, Sir! How's that? Are the policemen also so friendly in your own far away country?"

They also know that they cannot pay good doctors, so they have to do with barely educated ones.
"No problam Sir !"
"We have no good understanding of health issues anyway. We don't understand the difference between a viral and bacterial infection ourselves ... so how could an Indian doctor know the difference, Sir ? Let's just take these antibiotics, which we can buy by the pill."
"And in case my kid suffers from serious loose motion and dehydration, Sir ... we just follow the dietist's advice: "Give him fresh fruite juice"."
(This last advice was actually given in an (expensive) hospital to a fellow expat-mother whose kid became really ill by food poisoning!)

They realise that they can be killed in traffic every day and that nobody in the society will help them if they get in real trouble.
"No problam Sir !"
"My family will take care of me in any situation."
(I remember my bookkeeper being shocked to find out that nobody of the tens of people standing around him was helping him or did not even phone an ambulance. He had a traffic accident and laying on the road bleeding. He told me: "I was so lucky I was still conscious enough to phone my brother in Delhi so that he could come and get me."

"Na problam Sir !"

Indians are friendly people, realising that India is a tough country to organise.
They don't complain ... they adjust.

After all ... politics is a hard profession; economic leaders are supposed to strive for their own wealth and religious leaders are of course always short of money because they build temples and pray for the sake of the country and for the souls.

I'm curious if they also will accept that their own life and their children's lifes are directly endangered by pure irresponsible and negligent behaviour of their intellectual leaders ?

Some so called profs at Delhi University who got a license to educate youth at the highest level of education in chemistry must have lost their mind. At least if they ever were in the possession of something resembling a mind. Read the next article about a story which started 4 weeks back and has led to the death of one man already.

I myself have a hard time to accept that even supposed intellectual leaders don't give a fuck about their fellow citizen's health and life and can show such irresponsible behaviour. As a consequence I really question the quality of Indian education in general.

The following questions about Indian society must be taken seriously, because even a very modest positive answer is highly discussable:
- Are Indian (intellectual, political, religious, economic) leaders capable of leading their country into a better future ?
- Are there sincere Indian leaders able to take up and live to the responsibilities they get from the people ?
- Are Indian leaders able to fight against the immense irresponsible behaviour, corruption and disorganisation of Indian society or are they themselves the starting point and perhaps main cause of it ?
- Is India as a culture able at all to evolute into the "developed" society they would like so hard to be ? Or is all this "growth" and "development" only leading to more wealth for the richest, while the regular people's life is of no value whatsoever;
- Would the world still feel safe if they realise that a country as disorganised as India possesses mass destruction materials and weapons ? I even don't dare to think about Pakistan...

If something like this would happen in the Western world, there's no doubt that:
- the University department responsible for this would be closed at least for the time of investigation;
- the complete potentially infected University campus would be closed to check as long as would be needed;
- a thorough investigation would analyse and rectify all procedures regarding waste management;
- the direct and indirect responsible people would be fired immediately by the University itself;
- the direct responsible people would be arrested by the juridical system.

Indians, get your acts together ...
Will it be "Live and let live" or "Die and let die" ?

Friday, April 30, 2010

How to get a diversified sexlife? Get a religious career !

Last weeks sex scandals were uncovered in both India and Belgium. And it was striking that in both cases high positioned religious functions were involved.
What can be the reason behind the obvious link between religion and sex?

It is clear that almost all religions promote a specific system of values regarding sex. If the focus of politics is on the public life of humans and the organisation of the same, then religion focuses on the individual lifes itself: how does an individual have to relate towards the powers bigger than himself. It seems like if sex is one of those aspects which is "bigger than the individual self" and thus humankind tries to regulate sexual behaviour through religious and moral regulations.
A very hard task indeed, so it seems!

In an expensive restaurant where my wife and I had a dinner two weeks back, I saw a nice looking Indian guy with a quality kurta and long beard. He must have been around his mid thirties. He had the movie star-look in all his presence. He was looking through his eyes with a deep sense of spiritual awareness and was showing the typical behaviour which often points to high spiritual conscience: sudden breaks in the behaviour; staring some moments into the void - or by preference focusing on the air above him. Also: giving an impression of what one could call serenity and confidence, slow motions which suggest peace of mind.
This typical behaviour I've often seen also with the Catholic priests I came in contact with during my youth. The higher the function of the priest, the more this behaviour was apparent.
These guys have power beyond the regular power mechanisms you find everywhere like: aggression, money, status symbols. The technique they are specialised in is called 'charisma'.

In the restaurant, I immediately thought by myself: this is such a Godman.
He was accompanied by two young people. A girl, sitting opposite to him and a boy (her boyfriend ?) sitting next to the girl. Between the Godman and the girl there was a clear mutual understanding - they didn't have to talk any more to understand each other. All the Godman had to do was to show off his spiritual awareness in the behaviour I described above. The girl looked at him with eyes full of adoration.
This behaviour was not enough to keep the attention of the guy though, who seemed a bit sceptical to me. Every now and then, the Godman started a long monologue, and then he only looked at the guy. Probably he explained then the spiritual and religious concepts, promoting his religious views. The boyfriend listened quietly and affirmed regularly by shaking his head the Indian way, which seems like a mixture of affirmation and negation.
When I asked the waiter in the restaurant about the scene, he confirmed me that the Godman was someone from an ashram nearby. "They collect money from believers and all kinds of things are going on in these ashrams", he told me, "I don't like these guys, they spend the collected money in the most expensive restaurants. Only God knows what else they are doing with their followers behind the scenes."

In Belgium, where I have been myself in a renowned Catholic-organised boarding school, students knew exactly which priests were homosexual. We all knew what it meant if such a guy told you to "visit me in my room this evening". I know of several people having been the victim of these practices. My own experience is luckily limited to getting some indecent proposals from a Catholic layman who was speaking in front of the church weekly to read the Gospel during the masses.
Perhaps he was inspired by the enlightening examples of his superiors and trying to get his share. What else a catholic layman can do than trying to get laid - the word implies it so to speak.

Politicians create laws to organise the society. But often they use their knowledge to bypass these laws for personal benefits.
Religious leaders tell us individually what to do and how to behave. But apparently they use their power to bypass their own promoted rules.
Why is it so difficult for human beings to consider, propose, discuss and accept rules and obey self-created and approved rules?
There's a good advice to give to kids: always be aware of people trying to influence your behaviour on the basis of moral rules; instead learn to think about your own life, define your own moral rules and obey those instead; stay open for insights coming from different viewpoints and learn to choose your direction yourself.

For articles regarding these issues:

In India:

In Belgium:

For an overview of the attitude of various religions toward sex:

Sunday, March 21, 2010

Letter to Sonia

Gurgaon, Sunday 21 March, 2010

Concerning: Request to correct erroneous spelling

Dear mam Sonjaji,

I am A humble but Proud citizen of India. My name: A. P. Dalit.

I have a humble request.

Every day I collect 125kgs of old Hindustan Times papers, perhaps you know that one. And each day with the money I earn from that activity, I buy me a fresh Hindustan Times. And because I am illiterate, every day I find myself a good man Arijit willing to tell me what's in the paper.
Because I have only one room in my hut, my six kids gather around us and they also listen to what is written in the paper. I thank you for allowing these papers to be published, as they are the only education I can give my kids.

Unfortunately I have to point you to an error which I think explains a lot which goes wrong in our beloved republic. So I asked the good man Arijitji to write this letter in my name, which is A.P. Dalit.

We often hear about big amounts of money spend to the "BACKWARD CLASSES" in many of the articles in the paper. And you must know, dear Sonjaji, every time I hear this word "BACKWARD" I look at my kids and think by myself: "Who are those 'backwards'? Who can they be talking 'bout?".

Sonjaji mam, when I look at my kids then I always see them being so very clever to be able to survive amidst the stinking sewages and the rich wastebelts that are left by the other peoples. But no mam, I cannot think of those good peoples allowing us to live here as being "backward", since they are far more succesfull in our beloved country than my family is. If it can't be them, who else could it be?

My kids are also intelligent enough to avoid falling in the numerous pits everywhere in our beautiful city. These life-threatening pits are left by the professional people working for you. Those pitwallahs too cannot be called "backward" as they all are earning a better salary than all members in my family together. It can't be them neither.

My kids are surprisingly healthy even when they take a daily bath in the Yamuna or any other waterpool that is available. Don't tell me "backward" refers to the industrywallahs using our rivers as sewage systems. That's impossible. They are too much clever, just as clever as the medical doctors and high profile staffmembers of the hospitals who are always able to cure the few diseases my kids still get from bathing. I just can't belief that you want to address those good healthwallahs.

My last thought was that perhaps you want to send some money to the kids of these pitwallahs, industrywallahs and healthwallahs in our esteemed society? I can understand that this would help the parents in buying them a good diploma in one of the outstanding private schools, so that they could escape being "backward".
I have to tell you, dear Soniaji mam, that I would never dare to call those kids "backwards". I think their parents would not like that. Perhaps even the admission fees to enter the good schools would be raised too high if the school administrations came to know that the kids were "backwards"!

Well, Sonjaji mam, I have thought about it, talked and discussed about it. And I have asked around about this word "backwards" and the people it could refer to. I've looked everywhere but nobody seems to know these peoples. I asked at least a thousands peoples: "Are you backward?". And their answer was indifferently: "How dare you? Go back where you belong." I could not find a single one!
I really have no clue which peoples are referred to with that word.

So very probably the reason why all your good money and intentions to help these "backward" peoples is not reaching them, is due to this sole and simple fact: BACKWARD peoples DON'T EXIST in our beloved Mother India.

With permission but I really think "BACKWARD" must be a typographical error which has lead to wasting a lot of money from the good and caring netas. Probably the typo is caused by the increasing use of computers in the production of our daily papers. And pardon me but I think it is used now unknowingly and unintentionally.

My dear Sonjaji mam -- I feel an urge to call you 'auntie' now, may I? --, I am humbly asking for nothing more than the correction of this word "BACKWARD" and replace it everywhere by what I think was the correct intended word to use: "BACKYARD".

I'm hoping to hear the good man Arijit speak out loud tomorrow: "10.000 crore are assigned to the "backYard peoples".

Dear Sonjaji mam, I'm gathering my kids, leave my hut and I will be waiting for you.

You know where.

Thanks in advance and till tomorrow ?

A.P. Dalit
Citizen of India

Friday, March 19, 2010

The end of publishing?

See this video at
For a good blog about self-publishing (which is mentioned here), read

Nowadays there's a lot to do about the future of publishing. In the past 10 years in Europe commercial printers have been struggling to keep their businesses alive. It seems now it's the publishers who feel they are entering the economical battlefields.
Though in general most publishers are doing fine if you look at their balance sheets and financial results, nowadays discussions are going on between them about what their role will be in the future. Everyone in the sector is worrying about what impact the digitalisation and globalisation will have on their business. What will be the role of the publisher in the future?

For myself I think that the main principle which is often forgotten by publishers, is that INFORMATION is not the same as KNOWLEDGE.
My point is that for publishers, value must be added in the transformation of information to knowledge.
According to me, publishers who forget this difference will make themselves obsolete on the long run.

Some observations:

1) Upscale and downscale. Globalisation and localisation.
More and more mergers are taking place. The bigger the resulting groups, the more life space and market there will be for smaller players in the field. But at the same time more and more smaller publishers with niche markets will start new and small-scaled initiatives. Struggle to survive will be common to everybody in the field, just like it is for every other business. This evolution towards downscaled niche-markets is inevitable because it's also very much supported by the technological evolution.

2) Democratisation of publishing.
Like professional typesetting was brought to the individual desktop around 1990, publishing itself is brought within the reach of every individual. Printing on demand and digitalisation are just offering this: a cheap accessible way of producing a book.
Various initiatives already make clever use of these "new" techniques. "Publish Yourself" is the new adagio. And there's not much that existing publishers can do against it.

3) The disappearance of added value.
Before some time typesetting and producing content ready for print was kind of an art. It required tacit knowledge how to present the content of a book in the most reader-appealing way, keeping into account the author's desires. Value was also added in terms of correct use of language and content-related corrections, adding value to the knowledge that was presented by the authors.
Nowadays publishers are talking about all the technological possibilities and conceived future evolutions on the basis of the information they process and distribute. They are not busy with knowledge any more, their attention has shifted from knowledge to the more easy-to-measure "information".
However, because of the democratisation of production and distribution of information, this will not and cannot be the role of the publisher. A publisher - if he wants to survive - will need to define himself as more than an information-processor and distributor.
Authors cry for knowledgeable publishers who understand and valuate their knowledge.
Readers are nowadays internet-aware. If they want to access information only, then they surely don't want to pay a publisher coming in between them and the source of information.

4) It looks like everyone in this sector is trying to find a new theoretical model which enables them to predict and secure future developments. They think this is needed as they feel they have to take decisions for the long term. Unfortunately the vast majority of these efforts is in vain. The paradigms are shifting and the economical world is undergoing major changes in terms of power and wealth distribution. One can try to understand what is happening, but trying to grasp the future can not deliver more than some ease for emotional restlessness. It's only giving a false sense of security.
What I feel is that at this moment there's no new business-model in place or even developing for old-fashioned publishers who don't want to "miss the train of globalisation and digitalisation". Publishers tend to limit their role to the buying-and-selling of information and are overwhelmed by the technological changes which take place in those processes.
But this is just out of their range of activities as these evolutions are not in the field of "knowledge". They are merely limited to how information is produced and distributed. The added value of the publisher should however be in adding value to author's knowledge.

5) The role of the established general publisher is slowly becoming void. To cut costs they start to save on editorial and redactional efforts. Doing this, they force themselves to a mere role of production, distribution and marketing. But precisely these processes are becoming so cheap and within reach of every individual now, that there hardly can be a role for the publisher any more.

The main question publishers should always ask themselves is: how can I improve the knowledge presented by the author.

The end of publishing?
There's a very bright future for small, niche publishers.

Sunday, February 28, 2010

At least they look into the (almost) opposite direction !

I took this photograph in MGF mall on MG Road in Gurgaon. Fyi the 'MG' in the names stand for Mahatma Gandhi.

I learned that Hitlers Mein Kampf has extremely good sales in India. At first sight however, the pile of Gandhi books lets you think that Gandhi's book sold at least 1 copy more... Until you really start counting.

Interestingly on the cover, Hitler firmly is looking to the right, while Gandhi seems to doubt if he has to look to the left or to the center. Anyway, it's clear that he doesn't look in Hitler's direction.

For an interesting article about the two letters Gandhi wrote to Hitler before Worldwar II really got launched, I refer to Koenraad Elst.

India nowadays is the home for Gandhi-worshippers as well as Gandhi-haters. The former idealise him as "Father of the Nation", which became his political correct and official name. Nevertheless according to the latter, Gandhi stands for the undecisiveness, lack of Realpolitik and lack of efficiency of Hindu culture confronted with globalisation.

What most Indians might not know is that at least in Belgium, but probably this applies to the whole of West-Europe, you may have and read Mein Kampf but publishing it, going to public places to give the book away for free or sell it, will without doubt get you in contact with Justice. In other words: 'Mein Kampf' is a forbidden book.

Saturday, February 27, 2010

The (co)(s(m)et)(ic)(al) identity of the Hindu

1. The "cosmic" identity of the Hindu
While the world is ruled by countries and geographical areas dominated by the so-called 'book-religions' like Christianity and Islam, any of their individuals become shocked when confronted with the Hindu religion.
All of a sudden you realise that here is a religion that has nothing to do with power and economics (well ... this can be discussed), with trying to win souls or convincing others by any means.
Hinduism offers over 300000 supernatural beings to choose from. Each individual can choose almost completely free which avatar of the supreme Brahman or which deity he/she wants to worship. Each individual is as well free to define for himself how far he wants to follow the worshipping rituals.
All these deities represent a specific human experience of the cosmos.
For westerners it is very hard to understand how a religion being so diffused, without the use of power as we understand it, without central organisation and without clear personifications of the deities, can be so successful that it binds 1 billion people for thousands of years.
Though one may perhaps dislike many of the aspects of Indian society that seem to go along with Hinduism, for me, Hinduism presents itself as a far more realistical and truthfull faith in comparison to other religions. To my feeling (IF any faith is still needed), Hinduism gives answers for a lot of modern-day individual questions.
Hinduism should be cherished by the world and Hindu culture on its own should be called one of its wonders.

2. The "comical" identity of the Hindu
I cannot say I'm an expert in Hindu psychology at all. And the longer I reside in India, the lesser I dare to say anything about it also. Each time you think you 'understand' something, another thing happens which proofs you didn't understand it.
The beauty of it is that mostly Indians don't care themselves too much about their identity. Identity is for them something which is defined by others, and as such is subject to eternal change caused by the everlasting changes in the environment.
As a consequence they almost accept every change or situation without second thoughts.
For westerners, who usually try to build up their identity on the basis of principles which they try to keep as long as possible, this often gives the impression that Indians 'are not serious', that they are 'playing games' with you (and with themselves).
There's no "hard" or "principle-based" center to find in Hindu individuals. In the same way it is very hard to find arrogant (in the common sense of the word) ones. (What a contrast with Americans and Europeans here !).

3. The "cosmetical" identity of the Hindu

Could it be that the non-organised and cosmic orientation of Hinduism results logically in a mind which has an aversion of self-definition, is reluctant to choosing principles and plainly hates to have enough arrogance to take decisions and bear responsabilities.
Could it be that the lack of self-definition causes an overweighted attention for cosmetical identity building as is shown in the fact that half of the daily "quality" papers consists of reports and photos from the lifes of Bollywood actors.
Could it be that the choice of M. Gandhi (with his agression-free and often vague and unrealistic ideology) as "the father of the nation" is a consequent (but perhaps not so fortunate - because too vague) choice for a society based on Hinduism ?
Could it be that in the modern globalised world, Hinduism will become a threat to its own survival, because of its refusal to take itself serious when confronted with other cultures ?

If you look at where the budget spendings go, the US brand is based on "military and economic power", the European identity defines itself then as "social (security) and cultural (historical) power", the Chinese as "organisational efficiency".

What is the India-brand?

Saturday, February 6, 2010

That is what we in Belgium call: "Nearshore Outsourcing of our Social Security"

I came across this small article in the Times of India on Sunday 7 January 2010.
The problem of shortage of cells and prisons is already existing for 20 years in Belgium. The problem could never been solved, partly due to the very complicated communautarian political organisation.
Of course, one cannot deny that "nearshore outsourcing" is a very creative solution for this problem.
As a Belgian I'm so happy to read that the Dutch were so extremely friendly to offer this service to us "at cost".

I have some other tips for Belgium where outsourcing could solve the problem. What about:

- nearshore outsourcing to Germany of the few production jobs in the private sector that are still there in Belgium? The advantage would be that then we could collectively cancel all productive jobs, turn 100% into a service economy and become easily the greenest, ecological savvy country in the world;

- a bit-further-nearshore outsourcing of our Belgian pension obligation. What would you think of a "sell and lease back" operation for the whole of the ageing problem? To be able to make some profit in this operation, I think this type of oursourcing should be done in Poland. I'm quite sure they can handle Pension obligations cheaper than we can do in Belgium;

- a third proposal is: Why not "offshore outsource" our complete unemployment service system. I'm sure any member of the BRIC countries can make us an appealing offer for that !;

- then ... now that we begin to see the advantages of outsourcing more clearly: We could outsource the Governments and Administrations of the French speaking part. It's costing us too much money now and I don't have any doubt that Sarkozy can do it cheaper.

- and last but not least: Why couldn't we outsource our King and his family ?
If The Netherlands agree to take our inmates, then why would the UK have objections to host our Royal family. If I recall right ... they're related anyway. So ... in fact they should take them for free !