2013 in review

The WordPress.com stats helper monkeys prepared a 2013 annual report for this blog.

Here’s an excerpt:

A San Francisco cable car holds 60 people. This blog was viewed about 1,000 times in 2013. If it were a cable car, it would take about 17 trips to carry that many people.

Click here to see the complete report.

It’s me in Gurgaon, India

Another short trip to India, mainly business but I am already excited to see family and old friends. I’ll be mainly spending time in “Gurgaon” an IT tech center, but will also try to visit my school. Since my parent are reconstructing their home from scratch it’d be fun to live with them.

Delhi, short visit

Happy New Year 2012

I am visiting Delhi from 3-7th Jan 2012 on a short business trip. Basically, it’s an annual progress catch up of our new Delhi office and I’ll have some free time in evening and early morning to catch up with school friends as well.

FDI – India, Communist and Opposition

India have enjoyed democracy and freedom since 1947 when English were forced to leave the land. The country where 1/8th of total population on Earth lives couldn’t achieve anything remarkable except three wars, egoistic nuclear program and foundation of corruption in first 25 year from freedom. Our GDP was hardly 100,000M USD and with 1/8th of total population it sounds puny. My parents grew up in that India. Where people enjoyed freedom but still felt helpless about reforms in India. But is freedom was that’s all we wanted, when I asked to my parents: Answer was surprisingly yes.

I born in 1984 time when communism was shattered by people revolution in central Europe. India at that time was getting worst though we enjoyed mixed economy but it wasn’t sustainable. When USSR collapsed which was a setback for all communist governance in India and abroad. Foreign goods starts pouring to Indian market it was simply a question of allowing foreign brands to sell their stuff in India. But it wasn’t easy.

I left India in 2007. India at peak of it’s IT surprise. People start traveling abroad in large number and started to influence India system. Corruption is on it’s peak, poor standard of living haunting their memory of the life they lived in US or Europe and the truth is only IT cannot bring reforms to India’s economy. Our last 3 governments considering FDI in retail finally decided that they are going to allow 51% FDI in retail. Which is what most of the retail companies were looking for from last 2 decades.

Just like all Indian stories, that’s not the end there are villains: communists and opposition. Communists in India always talked about protecting the poor but what actually they were able to protect was their power in Indian political system. I had hard time to understand why communists are successful in some province in India. They replaced God with Stalin, there are no caste and no humiliation, which in some part of India have been always a problem. Instead, I expected that these idiotic people stereotype would eventually go as we evolve. Opposition is nothing strange, they just have to oppose to everything without being responsible and that’s what people do when they are not in power.

Why they cries? It’s a global world with equal opportunities in trade. Instead of sit back and say “we can do everything by our own”. We should be part of globalization. We wants to export but we don’t want to import. We want lame agricultural system where crop goes bad and framer suicides instead of better logistic and product distribution system. Nothing comes without it’s own shortcomings but they are far too small than the benefits to every Indian.

India (anti) corruption movement

Every Indian is frustrated by corruption and now it has become very clear from Anna Hazare movement against corruption. Shunned by government, it has grown to the mass level and yesterday when I heard from my sister “Support Anna” I was very concerned on that quote and decided to write this post.

First, India is very democratic country, debating on stuff is in our blood. We have got freedom of speed which is very well respected in educated Indian society. Now a days, it’s a debatable question in India but in any country if you try to subvert constitutional system then you’ll be penalized. So why all hype?

Recent economic reforms have accelerated corruption in India, also people are becoming smarter and more aware to expose scandals. Corruption are at all levels in India. Most people victimized by local policemem, office clerks and social ignorance. But “Strong Janpal Bill” is what we lacks? It’s rather novice to say that “Support Anna” – anti corruption movement when people do bribe in daily life. Another kind of corruption is when social funds are misused, here “Strong Janpal bill” might help? but I am not sure at which level. We need to think about root cause instead adding one more system.

Second, at root level people still suffer from racism (cast system), illiteracy and awareness but instead of fighting these fundamental problem which would probably erase corruption in future, we decided to hit hard by Anti-corruption movement. Without knowing the cause, how can we fix the problem and secondly, I don’t think that a bill would vanish corruption in jiffy.

I do not believe that this bill would make much difference, though I believe as we evolve one day India will be among least corrupt country, now to achieve this we need to end racism, illiteracy and remove various layers in public dealing. In my opinion, Technology is going to play large role instead of Anna Hazare to wipe out corruption from India.

I prefer to stay out of non-travel post but it looks like I have no time for it. Recently, I traveled to lots of forests and Lake regions in Poland.

PS: An ideal ways to replace corruption are
1. Replace all govt officials with Androids. “Technology”
2. Implant a chip to every Indian citizen. “UUID”
3. Use Artificial Intelligence to train Indian citizen. “Education”
4. Get rid of money based economy .. instead adapt different economic model which is contribution based or technology based. “LOL”

India India

I’ll be in India for next two weeks. It’s more business cum personal trip. I am also planning to visit Kerala for couple of days to get some fresh air and rain 🙂

Delhi again

A small office trip arrives and I’ll be visiting Delhi, Coimbatore and Chennai. It’s my first trip to deep southern India. It’s quite short and I am already packed with the tasks which I need to do, still I’d spend some time meeting family and friends.

India and Unique Identification Number

I think this blog is inappropriate for discussing, India and UID project (Unique Identification Number). I recently had look at Mr. Nadan interview on NDTV about this project, despite his public saying it seems people are still confused with “ID Card” and “Unique Identification Number”. Again I’ll repeat UID is NOT an ID Card its just an identification number which will go to your various documents like Birth certificate, voter ID card, Pan Card etc.

Concept of national ID is not new US have got defacto SSN (Social Security Number), in Poland there is PESEL (personal identification number) which drastically reduce paper work, for example In India, when you go to open a bank account they ask you to bring an “identity proof” ha! I need to prove who I am. It’s rediculous but thats the way things works in India. If you’re aware how to twists paper work then you can even get 10 credit cards in India.

Idea of UID is a watchdog on citizen activities and bring poor people a bit near. Now, how it’s going to help poor people, though I was quite skeptic initially that its going to benefit poor and as I can see here in Europe, I think it’d really help poor if its easy to get this number. The fundamental advantage of UID is that you don’t have to prove who you are to various institution e.g banks, tax authorities, immigration authorities etc.

Estonia is first country which connected its UniqueID and ID cards to an OpenID. For those who are not aware of OpenID (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/OpenID ) its an authorization process specially for web but can be extended to other application. Let me explain you in simple words say you have a Gmail account and all Gmail Accounts have issued a unique ID which is a URL (https://www.google.com/accounts/o8/ud) so now if you comes to a website which accepts OpenID and if you provide your uniqueID URL then it’ll authenticate you from OpenID provider in this case Google.

It would be great if India UniqueID will be OpenID enabled. Estonia has successfully implemented national ID – OpenID connection. If you are XYZ ABC with an Estonian UID 42004010123456 then your OpenID is https://openid.ee/e/xyz.abc.42004010123456 (https://openid.ee/e/name.surname.uid)

Biometric is really cool and we should do in this way but more things are happening around us, in order to bring egovernence to common citizen OpenID is an open platform for both government and non government world. I hope Mr. Nandan have already thought about it.

Schengen Agreement – Where the hell is free movement?

UPDATE: This post may contain some information which is no longer valid. According to latest updates, Schengen states are no longer issue D+C Visas and D Visa is now treated as D+C Visa. In short person entitled with D Visa can now visit schenegen states for first 3 months from date of issue.

Recently, I stuck with my renewal of residence permit in Poland and all I got was “D” Polish national visa. Which allows me to stay only on territory of Poland, but wait I have a trip to India, I bought ticket and everything has already planned. Immigration officer told me that Its multiple entry visa which allows to leave Poland and re-enter without any problem, in case of argument just show old residence card.

So far so good, my Lufthansa flight from Gdansk-Munich-Delhi-Munich-Gdansk has connection in Munich. Many European countries uses bad practice while issuing visa. In case of national legislation they issue “D” national visa which is limited to schengen state which issued that visa, and if it has picture and visa code then it also allows you one visa free 5 day transit to reach schengen state who issued that visa from other schengen state.

So, I was worried because it only allows “ONE” visa free transit when contacted German consulate in Delhi, they mentioned “Indian passport holding any visa issued by EU/EEA doesnt require Airport transit visa” so i was very happy that everything is in motion.

A week before departure, I just voluntarily contacted German embassy in Warsaw and their answer was like this “Sir, You need Schengen Short stay visa, if you are on national visa and you have connection from Munich”. I said what? I’ll be transiting via air just 1 hr layover in Munich and Officer nicely explained me why I need short stay visa instead of VTA/ATV or transit visa. Flights from one schengen state to another schengen state is considered as local flights, they dont have any immigration check points and more funny thing is “Schengen airports / gates are considered as schengen territory not transit territory”, well that’s ridiculous. In short it stay if you have got “D” visa then you are stuck in that schengen state which issued that visa.

In real schengen agreement is not complete it lacks completeness. They cannot issue me transit visa because i’ll be entering again in Poland after one month via Munich and transit visa doesn’t have number of days. So, they said only solution is to give you Short stay tourist visa, well that’s even more ridiculous but it’d work in my case.

In 2002 EU Parliament approved a proposal to provide some solution to this kind of problem by issuing “D+C” visa. D+C visa provides all features of national visa plus it include 90 days stay in other schengen state from the date of first entry in schengen zone. Practically it doesn’t work, because national legislation takes lot of time in some countries it even exceeds 6 month and in other cases embassies even dont issue D+C visa either they dont know what the hell it is or they just dont want to issue them or they are lazy to follow schengen visa procedure and add information to SIS.

Recently, A new proposal has been made to EU Parliament regarding providing completence to free movement regarding non-EU citizens. Proposal says “Long term D visa would have same effect as residence permits, so a non-EU citizen would be entitled 90 days visa free entry in schengen states in half year without visa, just like residence permit” and “Consulates should propagate D visa information in SIS(schengen informaion system”. It makes sense, both proposal aims to provide free movement without compromising on security issues and incase if any state need to issue visa to someone on personal interest then they can use “VTL” limited territory schengen visa.

Around 3 years ago, a delegation of junior high school students from India got invitation from France to visit and learn french in France. This delegation booked flight via Delhi-Munich-Frankfurt-Paris instead of staright Delhi-France. They went to french embassy and they got “D” visa for35 days with a stamp that they cannot apply for residence permit on this visa. And like other people they have that misconception that they can travel to whole europe on that visa which said “France” instead “Schengen States”. They reached Munich and immigration officer  enquired that where you are heading they said france. But its from Frankfurt and how you gonna take Munich-Frankfurt flight he replied. School teacher was completely blank, German Immigration officer asked them to return back from next earliest flight to Delhi. But its completely unfair, we dont know whats going on behind curtains, we are just going for an educational trip, yellow-pale school teacher replied. German immigration officer couldn’t understand why french embassy issued a D visa for short stay and agreed to talk to higher officer. After a long talk they have been issued a transit visa so that they can take this flight from Frankfurt, its really rare if doesnt happens oftenly, but thanks to Germany authorities who understand that Indian doesn’t have pocket full of euros they earns hardly 200 euro a month in home country. After arrival in France, instead correcting visa french authorities acted like a stubborn child and said “Indian embassy in France is doing similar things, they are not issuing work permits and visa as fast as they should” huh! its really childish. French doen’t understand that India has huge population and selling county again is not in our agenda. We don’t want hypermarkets like Carrfour in India taking all money to France, its  like socialism in past when English people dominated India for around 250 years. So, India is very careful regarding foreign investments etc.

So back to the story, I need schegen visa for just 1 hour layover in Munich. I went to Germany consulate in Warsaw, a nice lady gave me all requirement list, I needed a schengen health insurance, bank balance, 60 euro fee etc all requirements which are necessary for schengen visa. Next day I went with all those papers and met with two Chinese workers in Poland who had similar situation but the only difference was my flight is after one week and their was scheduled at 10:35 same morning. Good news they got visa on 9:10 but I am still skeptic about if they could catch that flight since airport is very far. At 9:40 I got my transit so called “tourist visum”. It was really quick. I must say German are really processing visa application faster and better. I called that visa “A visa to your own home”.



Land Transportation in Germany

Land transportation in Germany is well organized and extremely disciplined. Speaking in terms of facilities, I don’t really see anything else which needs to be added into then system. Trains are on time, trams and

S-bahn in Berlin

S-bahn and U-bahn serves mass of people in cities. Intercity and Regional trains are well organized. That’s how capitalism was imagined to benefit and “consumer king”. True fully I didn’t travel much on trains in Germany but I travelled enough to comment on how it looks from outside.

Last year when I first visited Berlin, I was shocked a bit when I first bought VBB normal ticket which cost me 2.10 EUR and surprises even getting bigger day by day. Berlin transportation system is sophisticated and it’s good to see common fare for all transportation services in Berlin. Later I accepted if you wants good service then you have to pay more.

I met with many locals there including some of my quite old friends and they always curse how capitalism is being used by Deutsche Bahn. But I always ignored those comments. Being from India, transportation in Berlin is allmost a dream world for me and after few days I left Berlin and moved to India.

While I was in India, I noticed how difficult is to provide transportation in India. Massive number of people and less number of road and rail-lines, further exploration into railways website in India reviels how they are making money with subsidised system. In fact I was all most shocked when i saw a 300 km 2-nd class rail ticket in India cost same as normal fare VBB in Berlin.

Recently, I just returned from Berlin and this time I had to travel by train. The story continued, I paid 25 EUR for 120 Km DB Regional train travel. With no discount for student and senior citizen, high fare, posing an evil image of capitalism DB seems to have some seasonal discount, happy weekend ticket and some promotional fares on some short distant routes, which led a normal middle class family in Germany to travel by train. People have their own ways to express anger, they usually are on cycle. Buys used ticket instead of machine-o-mart and so on …

In my opinion instead of directly linking “high profits” to “fare hike”. Transportation system have to learn how to get “high profits” without being evil. If Indian Rail minister “Lalu Prasad Yadav” who just studied few years in high school without any college degree can turn Indian railways into profit, then why can’t well educated Germans do the same in Germany.