Sunday, August 12, 2018

V.S. Naipaul's Mutinies, Then and Now

V.S. Naipaul, who wrote some of the best non-fiction in the 20th century, has died. The Guardian describes his non fiction as 'gloomy portraits of India, Africa and Islam in a series of travelogues including 1964’s An Area of Darkness, 1980’s A Congo Diary and 1981’s Among the Believers'. 

He saw the the rage of groups in India early on:

Some more gloomy writer would say the million mutinies in India would turn out to be the 'mutinies of the mobs' against each other.


Thursday, March 08, 2018

The New Media Diet Pyramid

Faris Yakob has created this "Media Diet Pyramid" based on the USDA's Food Guide Pyramid.

You would modify the tip of this media diet pyramid for Indians and include these highly toxic media brands: Zee news, Aaj Tak, Republic TV and Times Now.

In fact, barring a couple of TV news channels and a couple of newspapers, you can include most other Indian news media brands into this 'wasteful media diet' category.

'He said, she said', 'He tweeted, she retweeted' , and 'Now I am all angry and shouting and debating about it', is not journalism. TV anchors have mistaken their drawing rooms as the new newsroom. News reporters sit in the OSD to the minister's office and think they are reporting from ground zero.

You may also want to add 'foreign' brands - the famous 'Whatsapp' university' (Thanks, Ravish) and all those 'Facebook politicians' to this toxic layer.


Thursday, October 12, 2017

Exec's brutally honest pitch to potential investors I wish I had sent

Exeq, the New York-based startup founded by four New York City college drop-outs, has taken an unorthodox approach to pitching potential investors. In this email, Exeq CEO Derek Brown, a former engineer at LinkedIn and Addepar, explains the values of his startup, which wants to change the way millennials think about spending their money. The emphasis is mine.

"At Exeq, we don’t have everything together. We don’t know the future for our product and platform. We don’t know or control the external circumstances around our company."

The point of the app is to help people make more efficient decisions about their spending. It does so by notifying users when slight changes to how they spend can be made. For instance, the app might alert a person who frequents a coffee shop on their way to work that there is a more affordable alternative nearby. The app, which is only available in New York City to iPhone users, has 6,000 users. But, like most startups, their sights are set higher. 

"By combining financial and lifestyle data, we’re able to build a consumer product that enables consumer behavior…responsibly," Brown wrote in the email. 

And also this:

"Because you have a fiduciary duty to your LPs to make the best investments you can. We’d fall in that category. ;) On a more serious note, the answer’s simple: if you don’t see the shape of the world in the way that we’ve described above, then you shouldn’t invest in us."

I have been working on startups for 10+ years now, with no outside help. I created Bighow in 2007, a news publishing platform for curating news and listings, before Huffington Post and others took it mainstream. I wrote about my startup journeys in 2006, 'Startup is hard in Delhi'.

I just launched Truho, multipurpose publishing / payments, but I am hesitant to knock on investors's doors. I have no IIT/IIM degree. I have entered the fast-passing 40s. So I am hesitant.

A man without the pedigree of a degree.

But having seen Exec CEO's email to prospective investors, I wish I could send a similar kind to investors, but then I think what use would it be, other than sheer linkbait.

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Wednesday, September 06, 2017

A Journalist Was Killed Yesterday

Gauri Lankesh, a journalist/activist, was shot dead yesterday. A progressive, she spoke and wrote against communal politics, caste system and the establishment. She was a mentor to rising young leaders like Jignesh Mevani (social activist in Gujarat) and Kanhaiya Kumar (Ex-JNU students Union president). She worked in Karnataka, a state in news of late for not being that friendly to journalists, even by Indian standards.

Are journalists more in danger today? Because they are targets of people hiding behind mobs hiding behind governments? Gauri Lankesh said some time ago:

“We had UR Ananthamurthy, Kalburgi, my own father P Lankesh, Purna Chandra Tejaswi, all these people. They were all trenchant critics of Jawaharlal Nehru, of Indira Gandhi, of Rajiv Gandhi. But none of them were ever physically attacked, let alone [receiving] death threats.”
We know the answer. We know deep inside that we should all be journalists/activists today. That would be the best tribute to Gauri Lankesh.


Friday, September 01, 2017

We may be killing and hurting less, but are we thinking about it more?

Steven Pinker might have some facts about there being less violence (at least in the developed world) on this planet than before, but I am with John Gray and don't believe humans have become peace-minded animals.

Truth: We are too busy with our smartphones to go out, riot and kill, and too fearful of army-like police and CCTVs everywhere, where even small crimes may result in big punishments.

Saying 'millennial' all the time doesn't mean we all have become more 'moral'. Doc Searls writes about the decline in usage of the term 'non-violence' in searches and books.

Use of non-violence term in books

Searches of 'non-violence'

Does it mean we mean we are not interested in 'non-violence'? Does it mean we are thinking about 'violence' more? Does it mean our language has changed, that we project our anger, frustrations and policies in other words when writing books or searching? I want to go with the third explanation. You?

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Modi Government = Sellers of Vaporware = Pivot Government

The massive failure of demonetization, one of the worst things done by an Indian government, affected every common Indian citizen. Old men saw their fixed deposit incomes go down. Small businesses shuttered down for months. Millions of workers lost their jobs. The unorganized sector, responsible for most jobs in the country, took a left hook (this government loves big business only). RBI's credibility took a big beating. Farmers couldn't get timely and adequate payments for their produce, resulting in protests and suicides. GDP growth slowed down.

The Modi government is best at two things:

1. Sell the public on fancy plans and slogans - They call all this vaporware in the software industry.
Three + years of this talkative ('vachaal') government and all India got was shitty phrases...'smart cities' anyone? Hope your street isn't flooded during this monsoon.

2. Announce new plans as soon as you learn about the failure of the existing plan - they call it pivoting in the software industry.
The habitually pivoting government explains the demonetization failure as saying it was all about a cashless economy anyway, as if cashless economy would take away all the corruption, and it didn't matter that the consumers and small businesses would have to pay the fees associated with all digital transactions.

The people of India are gullible and anxious people. They sent a bunch of dubious and mouthy people to power. If only we had acted as smart VCs and tried to see behind their marketing.

Remember 'shining india' of 2004? Actors from the same training institute that time too.


Friday, July 07, 2017 An easy, all-in-one online publishing tool for businesses & professionals

How about creating and maintaining a comprehensive online business presence that is as easy as using your email/social media account?

Meet Truho, my latest project. Truho brings you these: Quick and easy online presence, easy online marketing, easy resume, easy lead generation...and soon, easy payments and invoicing.

Basically, Truho is 'Wordpress meets Paypal meets Magento'.

I know it is a handful.

I have been working on the Truho, on and off since 2009, and was able to finish it, working full-time on it for 12months.

If you are a business, you can use it do a lot of things - business listings, products, services, deals/offers, rewards progams, job posting, other business pages, lead generation pages...and much more.

(Truho for business - screengrab)
If you are individual or a professional / freelancer, use Truho  to post your resume on a dedicated url, have a'hire me' button to get new job leads, maintain a 'project's page, answer people's questions.

(Truho for Individuals - screengrab)
I am working on adding the payments component to Truho.

Try it out for yourself.

About Truho
Truho for individuals
Truho for businesses


Wednesday, March 08, 2017

Annals of 'Post Truth': Is Rajeev Chandrasekhar The Peter Thiel Of India?

So, a rich man in India got the courts to issue a take down order to a news website, TheWIre, even before giving it a chance to explain itself. That most of our media is prostrating itself before the Modi government is not news. What is a bigger news that the rich and powerful people are being able to openly dictate what the Indian people get to read about them in the media. From

The Wire took down two articles that  (Rajeev)Chandrasekhar. The first, published on January 25, was a report by Sandeep Bhushan on the Republic TV, a news channel Chandrasekhar is set to launch in association with former Times Now editor-in-chief Arnab Goswami.

The second, published on February 17, was an opinion piece by Sachin Rao on the alleged conflict of interest in Chandrasekhar being a member of the parliamentary committee on defence and investing in defence companies.

The offending articles are here but they show the take down notice instead.

All this seems familiar to the way Billionaire Peter Thiel went after Gawker, eventually succeeding in getting to shut down and paying loads in fine, just because Thiel didn't agree with the stuff Gawker was prublishing. In his response to a questionairre sent by, Chandrasekhar replied in an eerily Thiel-like manner:

“This court action is not about a take down, it is about holding those who did this accountable for their actions,” he added. 
Of course he meant that the rich and powerful are not accountable for their actions at all, only those in media who dare to speak the truth.

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Saturday, November 12, 2016

Ignore Facebook As Much As Possible

What should we do with Facebook, this 'glorified Flickr'? Facebook ads (and Mark Zuckerberg) may shout about Facebook being an 'agent of change' and all that B.S. but fact is, Facebook has become a powerful force of misinformation, especially in today's polarized societies and nationalist governments, fueling echo chambers and making billions along the way with gloried display ads.

During the recent US General Elections, President Obama called Facebook a 'dust cloud of nonsense.'

Nieman Lab, which studies media, says Facebook has become a sewer of misinformation. Facebook has also been called the world's leading distributor of lies.  Quickly Facebook is losing whatever goodwill it had.

What can be done to fix the Facebook problem?

1. Time for FB to start acting like a media company, and taking the responsibility.

Hire editors to manage what shows up in its Trending section. Better, hire a team of journalists and charge them with separating at least the worst of the fake news from the stream.

But Facebook doesn't want the responsibility, and hides like a coward behind the 'platform' excuse.

2. Time for governments to regulate Facebook's walled garden, or at least reset regulations for what so-called 'platforms' are required to do.
This is not some poor platforms we are talking about here. Google and Facebook make billions without taking the full responsibility their reach foists on them.

3. Ignore Facebook itself.
Or commit yourself to seeing the latest friends and family update, keeping in mind that Facebook doesn't produce the news, it is your friends etc who pushing the shit down your throat. If you need the news, go to the newspaper's site. The journalist will thank you too. Facebook doesn't pay for the production of good news and opinions.

Facebook has only made fake news and uninformed opinion easier to spread, and Zuckerberg knows that the market or government/s don't punish it for doing some shitty thing day after day. (If it helps the case, just the other day Facebook mistakenly showed memorial banners on profile pages implying users were dead.

During the current backlash against Facebook regarding fake news stories during the US General elections, Mark Zuckerberg denies all responsibility, only vaguely saying 'there's so much more we need to do'.

Oh great. But it is not Facebook but we who need to do much and stop using Facbeook for our news and helpful information source. When did we loose our common sense?

All day long, you all are busy refreshing your FB feed. Stop. Take time out and check out the world outside, starting with some news that you don't agree with. Talk to people with views different from yours. Don't let Facebook help you dig your prejudice-lined cave too deep. Even Narcissus would be ashamed if he looked at you right now.

Whatever happens, for sake of humanity, I hope people use Facebook only what it was meant to do, news and updates from friends  and family, not fake news and poison stuff from people posing as friends.


Sunday, October 23, 2016


I just made live my latest project,, a collection of food calorie burn calculators, health stats calculators (all on1 page) and healthy food lists.

Believe me, getting older is no fun when you have no idea of how much your eating is affecting your health.

I was reminded of a poster I saw, which said "Take the stairs, for one day you will find out you can no longer climb the stairs."

Foodglad contains food calorie burn calculators (choose from a database of 4500+ food items), five health stat calculators on one page and a Mets value search tool (600+ activities) - these are prompts to track what we eat and how much we are doing to keep ourselves active.

Screenshots from

Home page 

Food calorie burn calculator (just choose what you ate and voila!)

Five Important Health Calculators On One Page (just enter your weight, age, height and gender, that's all) 

Mets Value Search: Search for Energy Intensity of more than 600 activities.

Foogdlad also has 40+ Lists of Healthy Foods.

The future: If I get time, I may as well as add more food and activity tracking features.

I hope you will find this small website useful.

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