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Week of Shame

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In the shadows of back-to-back innings defeat at Australia, the national week of shame looms large on India. I was mentally prepared to write three different pieces to address them but snow in Seattle made me think otherwise. Lacking time, I have to compromise and settle down with a few words on each.

The Andaman Islanders were forced (lured?) to dance naked in front of tourists. I were probably more ashamed of this incident than if I were to do the same. What else could I say? These tribes were once lord of their own lands. Now, their land is gone, and the occupier is a client of capital. In this harsh world, they understood their asset and probably reciprocated. State is lawless? No, the law favors the deep-pockets.

A Bangladeshi cattle-trader was beaten like an animal failing to pay sufficient bribe to Indian Border guards (aka BSF). The captured video was allegedly distributed among villagers to install fear. The Human Rights gate-keepers engaged into worst violation of human (or even animal) rights and also allowed illegal operations to continue (as seen on video). To make it worse, BSF has decided to suspend the constables only after it was released by media. A part of media is now cooking up story that somewhere Pakistan is associated with this (don’t know how). Will an exemplary punishment (such as this) curb this kind of incident? Unlikely …

Coming back to the last one, the back to back innings defeats in Australia. The Indian media has spent far more newsprint on this one than that of the other two combined. Unfortunately, I don’t see much of tragedy in this. Cricket is by far a non-standard game, where the home team starts with a massive advantage. A defeat at home might be shameful, but a team of equal rank will probably beat the other at home. The same is true about the other two ongoing series – South Africa vs Srilanka and Pakistan vs England. Unless ICC takes some steps to standardize the pitches, these home-and-away-differences is going to stay. This is one more reason ODIs are better – at least most pitches follow some generic rules.

Only silver lining is that of journalism. I would thank a few fearless human-journalists to bring these to masses, especially to MASUM for creating awareness against BSF atrocities. But, one similarity between all of the above is more shameful. They are all going to repeat. Even if it may not in the same form, but in other forms – luring landless aborigines, torture by forces and away defeat in Cricket are going to stay as a part of Indian history and will take decades to fix. Till then we should prepare ourselves with a piece of cotton in ears.

Update : Now BGB (Bangladesh Border Guards) does what BSF is known to do – shoot and kill. BSF repeats the same to prove that they didn’t learn and will not learn.

Written by Diganta

January 20, 2012 at 11:11 am

Bhutan : The Next Data Hub

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Bhutan and Electricity

For long I didn’t write about one of our neighbors – Bhutan. Of late, Bhutan has become a fast growing economy with an increase in export of electricity (earned $175 million). The economy grew as high as 22% in 2007. And, there are six giant hydro-electric projects coming up soon to take the generation capacity upto 10,000MW by 2020. The India-Bhutan co-operation could chage the entire economic scenario of Bhutan. It has a potential to produce 30,000MW of power, of which only 2000MW is generated. So, it could earn a couple of billion dollars easily with export of electricity.

[Al-Jazeera reports from Bhutan]

The Potential

If we look at world history of economic development, a few countries went up in the ladder of economic development only through exploitation of their natural resources. Most of the others actually used their resources more and more efficiently, for higher value added products and services. So, Bhutan should concentrate not only on getting more and more revenue out of electricity export, but also at making more efficient use of cheap electricity to build up electricity intensive industries.

Given this context, I am not at all surprised to read (source1, source2) that big MNCs are setting up Data centers in Bhutan. Along with this, there are proposals to have Data Disaster Recovery Center (can be another form of Data center), BPO and other kinds of Software Development activities. The Bhutanese news media has hailed these proposals and rightly suggested that Bhutan has potential to become the cyber hub of Asia.

“Given Bhutan’s surplus power, it could be a data center for a lot of Asian countries, and all IT Indian companies. Data Centers are places where large power intensive computers are set up with the conditions of power, connectivity and stability. “

“Microsoft expressed interest to help Bhutan in terms of education and possibly to set up data centres”

From wiki -

“A data center is a facility used to house computer systems and associated components, such as telecommunications and storage systems. It generally includes redundant or backup power supplies, redundant data communications connections, environmental controls (e.g., air conditioning, fire suppression) and security devices.”

I searched online to find that there are a few basic prerequisites of a place to be successful as a Data center location. And, as per experts, the key component of the prerequisite is the cost of power. It is noted that

“According to AFCOM’s 2005 survey of its members, data center power requirements are increasing an average of 8% per year.”

Furthermore, Gartner has already predicted that -

“By 2008, 50 percent of current data centers will have insufficient power and cooling capacity to meet the demands of high-density equipment … Traditionally the power required for non-IT equipment in the data center (for example, cooling, fans and pumps) represented about 60 percent of total annual energy consumption. As power requirements continue to grow, energy costs will emerge as the second highest operating cost in 70 percent of worldwide data center facilities by 2009.”

No wonder that Bhutan can provide green, cheap and reliable power supply for data centers. More interestingly, Bhutan is a cooler and pollution-free country than the locations having most of the data centers. This will significantly reduce the cooling cost for equipments.

The next important thing is the security. Bhutan does have a very low crime rate and ranks high in Global Happiness Rankings. It is also located in between two future powers – India and China – which enables it to have secured borders with little investment in defense.

The missing things should not stand in the way. Bhutan is yet to be connected through Fiber Optic cable since it is a landlocked country. But, bordering West Bengal is going to have a submarine cable landing station very soon. The station, in Kanthi, is approximately 600km away from Bhutan. If the demand increases, a higher bandwidth cable can bank in the shore of Bengal to cater to the data centers. Bhutan is well-connected with India (550kms away from one of the Indian Metro city – Kolkata), but it needs better connectivity with China, Singapore and the Western world. To begin with, there are indeed no local talent pool available, but it will grow with time. Indian IT professionals can work in Bhutan to keep the data centers running. Marriage of cheap power with cheap skilled-labor can create win-win situation for India and Bhutan. Although Bhutan is located in the Earthquake belt, there has not been much damage due to earthquake till date. To kick start the whole process, the Government of Bhutan can announce a tax holiday for setting up data centers in Bhutan. The government has roped in McKinsey, a consultancy firm, to see how Bhutan’s potential could be converted into opportunities.

The Advantage Asia Paradigm

In the next century, most of the world will be digitized, i.e. most of the information will be stored as digital information. As each human being has some data (payroll, human resource, election, survey and even personal emails) for himself/herself , the amount of information is directly proportional to the population density of a region. India, China and South-East Asia have already started digitizing most of the information, Bangladesh is going to follow soon. Given all the potential Bhutan has, to convert itself into the data-hub for Asia, we can also see how Asia will gain out of Bhutan.

As Bhutan is located (follow the arrow mark) very close to one of the most dense world population, an increased digital activity in the region will translate into the demand of data center capacity in Bhutan. Right now, most of the data centers are located in USA, so it takes longer to retrieve data and send it across the network half way through the globe.

As we talk about the network, we can understand what happens when a undersea cable is broken in Egypt or Algeria. Bhutan, even before it has a live data center, can offer the Asians the facility to backup sensitive data as a part of disaster recovery.

Conclusion

As the supply of Indian service professionals reduced the service cost, the factories in China reduced the cost of commodities across the world making it affordable for poorer people to live with dignity, Bhutan can contribute with cheap power to decrease the cost of hosting data. It can be a giant step towards globalization of data. It’s a win-win game for Bhutan and the rest of the world.

Photo Courtesy – GRIDA.

Written by Diganta

December 31, 2008 at 1:55 am

Are Online Advertisements going to die?

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Patrick Dixon is a famous futurist who is basically a technical consultant also. He has focused onto online advertisements on his video uploaded in his youtube home.

The claim that he has put is quite astonishing. He says that online advertisements does not have market and Advertisement as a whole will be jolted by a new phenomenon called web 2.0. The Web 2.0 boom is nothing but the omnipresence of social networking sites in all possible arenas of our society. As it spreads like a virus and ‘infect’s a bunch of people whom a particular customer know of, it will very soon penetrate almost all the Internet users. That implies, each of the Internet users will have two choices – get the information from the official site or from the social networking sites.

To put the same words with the help of an example, let me take ITC Sonar Bangla in Kolkata. It is by far the best hotel in Kolkata, at least for the last few years. Now, a person who’s interested to stay in Kolkata for a week or so, would definitely look for a good hotel in the city. Once he searches for hotels from Kolkata, he’d obviously get a few more links than the official sites of the hotels. Along with them, the social networking sites will prompt a few discussions on the experience in the same hotel. As an user, you would always be attracted to know the experiences of other people. So, a huge banner on top of the official site having a poster of a cricketing icon will not get the hotel much business if the social networking sites discuss customer discomforts at the hotels. As a matter of change, the official sites will only hold information – i.e. the rates, the discounts and the check-in times. On the other hand, the king-maker would be the social networking sites since people will check for the feedback. That’s what at least he predicts.

I personally both agree and disagree with him. The big posters with flash pop-ups will be gone. But more and more of the online advertisement will go to the technology and intelligence of the advertisement. One of the most important value propositions the online advertisement world is offering is the “reminder service” – i.e. remind us of the advertiser each and every time we surf them. And, reminder does matter if you can be at the right place at the right time. That is why search matters. When a person searches for a hotel in Kolkata, it is so important to remind them of the advertiser and to create at least a place in his mind.

Not only that, as the business like hotel and airlines are getting congested with more and more brands, to start up and create a new brand also requires to be at the right place at the right time. To provide quality service is always essential, and would probably be more essential than it was before, but the quality of service hits a plateau very soon. Then the other value propositions come into effect – like the advertisement.

Getting back to the example we started with, let’s imagine the virtual user looking at the bad experiences about tens of ex-customers of the hotel. What happens if he sees a competitor hotel advertisement at the corner of the same virtual discussion board? He will certainly look around at that option, even if it is a much less known Hotel than the ITC and its competitors. If the customer feedback is good enough, he can settle for the less known one rather than joining the league of much overvalued ones. Doesn’t it matter to be at the right place at the right time?

The technology that I want to point out is what we call “contextual advertising”. It has a huge market and will have even bigger one beyond the space of Internet. Interestingly, I believe this concept of contextual advertising strategy is as old as the human civilization itself. I can see all the sadhus, gurus and the religious campaigners gather around the temples as they expect some religious people to come to the area. All the sports equipments are advertised near the stadiums. Still, they seldom can be at the right place at the right time as an advertisement placed by Google once you search for something. That is why “contextual advertisement” is so interesting space to work on in the Internet. I believe, the true strength online advertisement industry is yet to be revealed – it will be there along with the new era of Artificial Intelligence.

Written by Diganta

July 28, 2008 at 8:11 am

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