State of Indian Startup ecosystem

In past of couple of months, I attended quite a  few industry events/meetups. Apparently the development of startup ecosystem in India has gone a long way. Bangalore remains the epicenter of Indian startups. The number of startup related groups has increased, although few remain relevant.  The strength of many of these groups has increased manyfold as new entrepreneurs are born and added to the fleet.

The other major change that has happened over last year or two is on the investment side. There  has been a flood of not just (so-called) early stage investment firms but also incubators and accelerators. Some of the newly born Seed/Angel funds that I have met/come across – Ventrue nursery, GSF accelerator, TLabs. Vinod Khosla seems tempted by Indian growth story and seems now mulling investments beyond the silicon valley. Khosla labs has already setup a lab in India although no word on investing in India yet but I would expect that pretty soon. One of the most promising incubators that I’m looking forward to is the Startup village, Kochi. It is quite an ambitious project  with a 100,000 sq.ft. campus. Kris Gopalakrishnan is the chief mentor at the 100 crore public-private project. Microsoft started its first batch of accelerator program in India this year. Microsoft does not invest any money in companies and neither takes any equity stake. The program is medium of promoting its Azure cloud platform and other products. One of the most significant developments in investments is the entry of 500 startups in India- a US based early stage seed fund. In the first year of its existence in India, it has already invested in about whopping 10 companies.  That just goes to show the promise that India holds. In one of his presenations, Paul Singh of 500 startups emphasizes just this point.

Apparently the rise of incubators and accelerators is not restricted to India but happening all over the world. Interestingly, I met several foreign nationals  who have landed up in India (including Valerie of ZipDial, one of the companies which got funded by 500 startups) to setup businesses. So not just the investors but the founders too seem tremendously bullish on the scale that India offers. It just remains to be seen how best Indians themselves are able to exploit the opportunity of the homeland. On the non-IT side, Tata Elxsi has launched an incubator this year. That is a very bold move and I’d say, first of its kind in India but exactly the need of the hour.

A significant departure with respect to previous decade or so that seems to have happened is the rise of technology product companies. This is not just the result of the availability of investments and resources. This can be attributed to a whole new generation of entrepreneurs trying to replicate the success of the valley.  The success of dozens of startups who have been able to build truly global product companies from India have boosted the growth. I came across several such startups and it is just phenomenal what they have been able to achieve in just over a couple of years. It would be unfair to name just a few. Although services remain a significant bulk of Indian software industry. This, in addition to the fact that many of the early stage investors including 500 startups invest only in product companies.

Although the point that is emphasized again and again is that now money is chasing the startups and  its the investors who need to find and chase promising founders, the fact remains that early stage funding is no easy task especially in India. From all of this buzz, it is important to understand that it is not the investments and incubations that make this scene exciting, it the scale and opportunities. And founders would be better-off focusing on that.

Whatever happened to innovation?

A while back, I wrote a post about Instagram’s acquisition by Facebook. I am not sure if I was able to convey my exact feelings effectively enough. There was hardly anything special about the occasion- a giant tech company buying a 2 year old startup whose single product went viral. Something that happens twice a day in the valley. Well, except for the money involved in the transaction which raised quite a few eyebrows. But I am dumbstruck that strangely this did not raise enough questions in the tech world about what we’ve come to define as “technology innovation”. Maybe because the tech-world-intelligentsia are too busy in the headless-chicken frenzy. It feels like the tech world is in a state of fast-decay.

If it seems unfair that I keep referring to Instagram, let me clarify that it is only for the sake of naming something. I can name a dozen other. Besides, Instagram set a dazzling example of the current state-of-affairs. I spend quite a lot of time every day reading tech magazines and blogs and frankly, sometimes I just feel repulsed by what I get to read.

I was drawn back to the stream of thoughts by an article I read today. It was good to see atleast one sensible person to speak my mind. Google is indeed sitting on a huge cash pile and doesn’t have much clue where it is going to invest it. And that’s true of others of the league. I’m overlooking a lot of exceptions to the theory and painting too black a picture here but the bottomline is that innovation has largely stunted. Interestingly, the conference at which Peter Theil made above comments was about discussing whether technology has improved our lives over the past 30 years.

It is disturbing to know how much the paradigms of technology innovation and being a genius inventor have changed over a few decades. I am about to finish reading a book I should have read in high school, may before that – “SURELY YOU’RE JOKING MR. FEYNMAN!”.  The book has enlightened me of my dumb ideas about technology and innovation beyond words. It was refreshing to remember what true genius means and what does invention mean. The way the mind of a scientist works just blew me away. His ability to think in a peculiar way and the things that he is adept at seems to be a born-talent.

I used to feel lucky to be born in the age of information. But I think I would be rather happier if I was to be born five decades ago. There is nothing to beat if you were fortunate enough to see Einstein himself in flesh and blood. To live in the times when William Shockley invented the first transistor – the very building block on which today’s supercomputers are built. To witness Max Planck and Niels Bohr, the Gods of quantum mechanics, unravel the mysteries of atomic structure. It was Renaissance.  Mark Zuckerberg is smart alright, but he’s no genuis. It doesn’t take a genius to build a facebook. You don’t need a Ph.D. in a niche subject and years of experimenting and understanding to put up a website or an app to share photos or videos or tweets.

And with this, I also realize a fact. The true genius usually aren’t really those who you hear about in news or whose photos you see in the journals. The true genius sit quietly in the dark corners of their labs/basements working hard, largely oblivious to the outside world.

When I let my mind play with the ideas of starting up, these absolute dumb things unfolding in the tech world did have their  (un)desired effect on me and I tried hard to think of yet-another-stupid-app that I can launch my startup with. And who can blame ? It’s all about build-fast, get-huge-PR-fast, get-acquired-fast. Mainly the second. Real fast money. A real-world-problem to solve? Product? business model? REVENUE? Never mind that. But eventually I did come to my senses and decided not to follow just a mindless bandwagon, no matter how big is the promise of riches and how easily replicable the path. It just doesn’t make sense. I set out to make a difference, as Jobs put it -to make a dent in the universe, and that’s what I will do. I hope the tech-world and the so-called tech-giants of the world get to their senses in the earnest as well. Else very soon we will have to start giving away Noble prizes for making cool games app.

To the crazy ones

I always wondered what was it like to quit a lucrative, much-coveted, jazzy corporate job for some moronic infatuation of following your dream and go on to become a destitute with the meekest prospects of being able to manage your basic needs in foreseeable future. Hmm Now I Know.

That’s right. I’ve quit my job (once again) and this time I’m not heading for a new one (Well, but I’m not becoming a destitute anytime soon). So what do I plan to do? Well, for starters, I’m going to savor the sweet sweet taste of freedom (It doesn’t last long, since its just an illusion). I always wondered if I could ever break out of  a life whose routine was written as a set of commandments by Moses and handed over to me directly. It was like finding yourself in a place you hardly remember how you landed up into. But you don’t question such things. You’re only allowed to shrug. I think standing in the pantry several times, I imagined myself breaking the glass, jumping out of the window, running across the street, tearing my clothes apart, screaming my throat out. I’m not sure what does that psychological fantasy signify but I’m sure even that act would give immense sense of freedom….maybe later.

Meanwhile, there are some ideas rusting on my shelf, I’ve always wanted to test out so I’m gonna finally give them a shot. Give more time to myself for thinking (not that I gave less before). Indulge in lots of reading. Putting my physique in shape will finally take preference over my work.

I can attest that quitting your job to become unemployed is not something to be attempted by the faint-hearted. Many think of doing it everyday but courage fails. Compromises made, dreams rest in peace, life goes on. But a lot of factors need be in your favor before you even think of something like that. Although age is not always a barrier but your chances of doing something crazy and outlandish diminish with your age. More so when you’re earning fat paycheck, are used to a particular lifestyle and have EMI clinging on your back. You can afford to be a little more whimsical when you’re young. In India, there exists a complex correlation between your perceived social stature and your job. So it doesn’t matter if you’re doing fine working as a part of a music band, but since you don’t have a proper ‘naukri’, probably your parents consider you  useless. You carry a stamp of  ‘berozgar’ and no parents, in their sane minds are going to offer ‘apni beti ka haath’ to you. Ahh.. the humanity!

More often people are not confident enough of doing something on their own. I think if only, people tried to push their limits and tested themselves on the edge, they’d be surprised to find what they’re capable of. I believe if I am not confident of my capability to earn my bread, then I ought to starve. If I can’t garner the skill of making money, I ought to go broke. Let the fittest survive.

If you’re one of those who has the odds in his favor and waiting for the right time, this  might help you. After all, you have only one life and you can be forgiven for wanting to do something crazy. As Isabel Allende tells, nice people with common-sense do not make interesting characters.

What I learnt from my corporate experience

My relatively small stint with the corporate world has been long enough to learn a lot about almost every aspect of how corporations work.

  • Working so far for large corporations, I have missed and yearned the opportunity to work at a startup. Although you learn well established industry practices, big corporations, by definition, have some inherent weaknesses.  The larger the company, the slower it becomes – both in adapting technology and organisation. Since, a small change in one part affects hundred others due to complex dependencies. Don’t miss an opportunity to work at a startup. You’ll enjoy it.
  • Although this is a personal choice, for me, its important to be passionate about whatever I am doing and the people around me are motivated all the same. If you’re are not excited about what you’re doing, you should probably reconsider what you’re doing.
  • People come first. Everything else is second. Learn to smile and talk nicely and you’ll find you can get things done faster. (Disclaimer: I am not good at this either)
  • Its important to have friends at work, whose company you enjoy. Its a must.
  • Changing long held practices/processes is difficult. If you see some things around you that need to be set right, get up and get working. Convince people. Fight, if you have to. Do not shrug and sit down.
  • Despite being a geek, I’ve surprisingly come to acknowledge the fact that technology never dictates the market, its always vice-versa. I cannot elaborate it here but this fact helps you big-time when you sit down to design solutions and products.

A few other things I’v learnt, Alex Gaynor  nails in his  post,-

Never be threatened: When people are threatened or scared, it affects their decision making. My solution to this has been to try to make myself unthreatenable. For example, I got through school by knowing that I was good enough at what I did that I could get a job without it, I avoid being threatened financially by saving effectively. I’ve found that this is more or less a necessary condition to being happy.

Be willing to walk away: This is probably an extension of the first one, but if you’re anything like me you make mistakes, a lot of them, with varying degrees of badness. The only way not to get bogged down by them is to be willing to walk away from them. This is not to advocate abandoning something or someone, but rather that there is no hole too deep, no sunk cost too great, to not be worth leaving.

The people are all that matter: I remember after a school trip a friend once told me that that he’d really loved where we’d been, and that he couldn’t wait to go back. And I remember telling him, “No, this place was boring as hell, but we went with our entire class, all our really good friends, of course it was awesome”. Just about everything worth doing is defined by the people you do it with, pick good ones.

The future

This is tricky. Being foolhardy doesn’t automatically guarantee success. But losers are not those who fought and lost but those who never fought for the fear of losing. I will continue to experiment. Keep throwing away things I built and start from scratch just to test that I am still capable of building something. If I had fun trying to solve interesting problems, worked with awesomest people, travelled the world and did everything I wanted to, I will consider myself successful even if I end up broke.

That was really long. Lets end this rant with one of my favourites -Raga Tilak Kamod

The Goddess of small things

Recently, I watched a very obscure, old cult film. A weird nostalgic feeling creeped through me, although the film was from time when I was just 4. It was particularly interesting because the screenplay was written by Arundhati Roy and the 29-year-old herself  had acted in the film. Also featured was a very small appearance of the yet-unborn-king, Shahrukh Khan.

I was in junior college when I first read her popular novel “The God of small things”. I think I was too young back then to understand it completely. I have not been a huge fan of Arundhati Roy. Very few are. Her controversial statements and writings have not helped her popularity either. Listening to her interviews, one might get an impression that the lady has had to face multiple crisis in her personal life, which have had such profound effect on her psychology that she finds it utterly difficult to integrate herself with the mainstream society and make her peace with the world. Maybe not in the usual sense of the term, but some might even call her “anti-social”.

Her love of the Maoists and Naxalites, her resentment of the concept of Indian democracy, her abhorrence of the middle class, even her questioning of the Anna-Hazare movement; all seem very strange and she seems to be intent on getting herself on the wrong foot on every matter.

Not that I have not sympathized with her on any of the issues in the past, but after watching the film, I think I have a better understanding of her and where is she coming from when she says all those weird things. The film was inspired by her real life experiences during her time at the Architectural College, Delhi. She portrays a typical rebel adolescent, carrying a head full of radical thoughts, ready to change the world . It is as good as actually watching her when she was in college. Reckless and bizarre, young and radical, had I met her in college 30 years back, I think I would have probably married her. Her radical thoughts then, I must confess, are not much different from the way I think now. She seemed pained and moved by the prevalent social order, horrifying economic disparities and the cost paid by a large section of the underprivileged to make a comfortable lifestyle affordable for a fortunate few.

Its easy to think radically when you’re young. But there are very few who actually pursue their ideas, try to do their bit to change the world. And those are the ones I respect and admire. After her college, Arundhati never pursued her career in architecture. She gave it up to become a writer instead. The sad part is, in my opinion, over three decades she did little to change the situation, which had touched her so much, other than writing about it. By supporting open contempt for the middle class, she only served to widen the gap between the isolated sections and the society, instead of bridging it. By rejecting the current Indian democratic system completely instead of proposing to rectify its fallacies, she has failed to answer it with any alternate political order. She has turned herself into a fanatic and extremist. A fanatic cannot see clearly because he cannot think clearly. I have not heard her say it, but I think she certainly would favor a Proletariat dictatorship given her contempt for all the bourgeoisie of the world.

The appalling conditions of the underprivileged continue to remain as they were many decades ago. So do the horrifying economic and social disparities of the country. The isolated factions are very different and delicate problem. I plan to do my bit to change the world. Transform my ideas for the better. A writer I may become. But a fanatic? Probably not.

Free software Vs. Open software

For a long time, I believed that I understood what Free and open software meant. For many open source enthusiasts like me, they mean the same thing. I have attended numerous FOSS conferences and none has tried to draw any distinction between the two. Open source software is also commonly abbreviated as FOSS (Free and Open source software) which implies Free software == Open software. (Free here, of-course does not include “free-of-cost” software or Freeware, which are not-necessarily open)

It was only recently that I became aware of the differences between the Free software movement and the Open Source movement.  More startling discovery was the differences in philosophies of Richard Stallman (popularly called RMS) and Linus Torvalds. Stallman is undoubtedly the pioneer of the Free Software movement, which he started with the GNU project in 1983, and that was long before Linus thought of creating Linux in 1991. According to Stallman, the Linux project is largely misunderstood as the starting point of the free software movement and the folks associated are credited disproportionately compared to their contribution. It is quite true that the Linux project is considered the ultimate champion of the FOSS movement. It is also quite true that the GNU folks have not been given the credit that they deserve for their critical contribution; without which Linux would not have seen the light of the day.

Stallman explains his philosophy of free software with four essential freedom that  any software should offer

  • Freedom to run the program as you wish
  • Freedom to study the source code and change it
  • Freedom to copy and distribute the software
  • Freedom to copy and distribute the modified software

Stallman insists the Linux operating system should be called GNU/Linux. This is because GNU was the original project started with the aim of creating a free operating system and later merged with Linux since the only thing it lacked was a kernel; the gap was fulfilled by Linux. According to Stallman, the Torvalds camp has a more  liberal approach to the use of proprietary software and they do not consider the issue at a moral level.

I highly admire Stallman for his contributions to the world. But indeed, I think his philosophies are radical and extreme. On the death of Steve Jobs, Stallman said that he was happy for the occasion. For all the differences of philosophies that Jobs and Stallman had, that statement was a bit over the edge.

Finally, according to Stallman, free software doesn’t have to be free in the monetary sense of the term. It means it is fine if you have to pay for a copy of the software. Hmmm…. interesting.

So, what does all this mean anyway? Honestly I don’t understand Stallman’s idea of freedom and how is it any different from the Linux camp. But lets give it a try.

All the four freedoms enumerated by Stallman, are embodied in GPL. He carefully drafted the GPL to reflect them. Thus every GPL software, including Linux, should be no different from Stallman’s definition of free software. Stallman is fine if you have to pay for a copy of the software. So free software doesn’t actually have to be free. So how is it any different from proprietary software? Perhaps because you have access to source code. The next logical question is what happens when you modify the source code.  Freedom no. 4 in the list allows you distribute copies of the modified code. That statement is actually misleading because its not so much of a freedom but rather an obligation that you have to fulfill if you were to comply with GPL. It stems from Freedom no. 2 that all software should be available with the source code. That doesn’t sound much of a freedom. [Note: Lesser GPL (LGPL) allows you keep your modification to the source proprietary]

I am aware that some companies have indeed used evil means of locking up users in digital handcuffs in the past or are still using, including Apple and Microsoft. There was a furor about some features of iPhone which tracked the user location. It is definitely a concern and one can only wonder what other user information could Apple access with the iPhone. This is the moral aspect of using proprietary software that Stallman talks about and is indeed a valid argument.

I don’t even want to analyse the economic implications of having to pay for a copy of FOSS software. I am not aware of the existence of any software which is licensed under GPL, for which you have to pay.

This is what I firmly believe – Having access to the source code and being able to contribute back to the community helps in developing great quality software. It is definitely a contribution to the betterment of humanity. Period. Those are pretty much all  the implication of FOSS. There is no reason why all the software ever written on the planet should be free or open and there is no reason why a person should not try to reap the benefits of his Intellectual property. Moral issues relating to individual privacy and freedom are to be dealt separately and viewed separately.

Saving the intellect

The debate over software patents that has existed in the industry for quite some time now has become more intense lately. Writing on this topic seems like beating the dead horse, but I have some thoughts on this topic that don’t seem to be reflected anywhere else.

As one of the respected figures of the industry I respect PG‘s thoughts on the topic. But I have some opinions of my own.

I have problems comprehending the idea of software patents (like many other people, I hope). Sometime back read a post on Hacker news, where someone had tried to prove how software was like mathematics and hence cannot be patented. Apart from the fact that I belong to the open source clan which is usually associated with the “against” side of the debate, there are some interesting aspects to this issue.

I like to think of “software patent” as a misnomer. Patents are for ideas and only ideas can be patented. No matter hardware or software. And this is one  interesting thing about patents,  they don’t actually need you to implement your idea.  Google filed for a patent for a floating data center on a ship. No one is sure if Google is really serious about building one.

Google is not the only one to do so. Many companies file patents for ideas that they never intend to implement. Patent trolls are a special category of these. In some instances of poor intellectual use in determining intellectual index or innovation index, the number of patents filed by an organisation/person is the sole yardstick. For example, in many countries the number of patents filed by a university determines the amount of research funding it can woo from government. There are some companies which usually try to keep a small pile of patents which are not related to anything they do, but instead related to something which one of their competitor does; who also happens to be in other businesses. This helps them in times when a lawyer from the competition walks in with a notice for patent violation. Then they have something in stock that they can possibly trade. It is likely that the competitor is violating one of their patents. And that’s the way patent violations are usually settled -by trading patent licenses.

Now for the reasons I don’t believe in this yardstick is the good number of good reasons that a company may not go for a patent on everything that is patentable; and also a good number of evil reasons that a company may want to go for a patent. As is common knowledge, a company never patents its life-support technology (commonly known as trade-secret) which could allow it to be in  business for centuries. A patent on the other hand, would allow it to have technology monopoly only for a limited time (usually little more than 10 years). Although patents allow you the monopoly to the claimed technology, they make your technology common knowledge. Now this leads to more interesting possible turn our of events. Patents have jurisdiction only within the country in which the claim is filed. Hence companies have to choose  carefully the countries where they want to protect their interests. Once they file a patent the technology becomes public knowledge. World-over. If someone in another country claims a patent for the same technology or simply starts using the invention, the original inventor then cannot go and claim patent in that country. Since it has become common knowledge and common knowledge cannot be patented. Technology in existence cannot be claimed for a patent even if no-one else owns a patent over it since patents are granted only for new inventions.

Patents are an expensive affair; apart from the filing cost, usually requiring to pay an annual amount to keep it valid. Even after a patent is granted, finding patent violation instances and proving them in court is the onus of the inventor which is another big pain in the butt. Imagine a complex software algorithm for improving performance of a component. Once you file a patent and the algorithm becomes publicly available, how easy do you think it is to find if anyone else using it in their software? The patent fee also forces companies to rethink if  they are really going to lose significant business if someone else also comes up with the same technology or files a patent over it.

This excerpt from extremetech shows how sometimes patents and patent lawsuits can be utter nuisance –

As an example, Apple has been granted a patent on “slide to unlock” in the United States, which is now being contested in court. The idea both seems fairly obvious and was used in a Windows CE phone prior to Apple’s filing, but nonetheless it is currently valid in the United States — it has already been thrown out in the Netherlands after Samsung brought out the older phone to demonstrate for the court. Imagine the work of having to challenge several patents in each country where a company sells products.

Heard an expert say,  “It’s hard to be in the computing business–hardware or software–and not infringe on a couple of dozen IBM patents, if not more”. As PG rightly said, you’re probably infringing some patent every time you tie your shoelace.

Some people consider the claim that software patents are killing innovation as bullshit. Here is just one of the colorful infographics illustrating the patent wars in the industry. Such images have become common these days and the web of arrows more intricate. There is atleast a possibility that a fraction of the  amount of money spent by these giants  in suing each other could have been spent on generating more innovative ideas and a slight betterment of humanity.

I used to believe that patents were supposed to be claimed for inventions  -You know, something  new and cool. I sympathize with the Patent office. They have to deal with thousand of patent claims on infinite range of subjects. I am sure the bunch sitting there doesn’t have expertise on every topic that a lousy university allows you to do Ph.D. on. But after seeing patents like this and this, you can’t help but wonder, what dumb-heads are allowed to give away these patents? These kinds of patents are not one off .  Want more examples? – See this and this. And here is exactly how patents also kill innovation- If you have a patent for a knife itself, then you are stopping those talented bunch of chefs from inventing wonderful new recipes.

I’m not for or against software patents or patents in general. But I would be very happy to see patents getting granted for more useful and innovative stuff than Madonna  featured T-shirts.

Troubleshooting ADT plugin installation for Eclipse

Recently, I had quite an adventure, costing me more than a day’s time, trying to install Android Development Tools (ADT) plugin for Eclipse on my new machine. A task so simple as this, if takes more than 15 minutes should be a real shame to the developer, the SDK and Google. Well, so I thought, until I figured out, none of these were the real culprit. I believed Eclipse’s update manager to be smart enough to pull dependencies without complaining  and maybe prompting for license agreement. So I was not-so-pleasantly surprised to see cryptic error messages interrupting the installation. After rummaging through pile of pages which Google thought would help me, the only thing that everyone seemed to be suggesting was that I needed to update my Eclipse installation with update manager. See here and here. I decided to kindly oblige but to no avail. I even upgraded my Eclipse classic installation to the latest  Eclipse 3.7 Indigo just to be sure. I also discovered that Eclipse would take forever if you try to check for updates with all the options from Preferences -> “Available Software Sites” checked and so I was just unable to upgrade my Eclipse installation.

Without giving up hope, I decided to dig into what Eclipse had to say about the installation error.  It said something to the effect that it needs Maven plugin with an id-  org.maven.ide.eclipse []. I had no knowledge of any software with the name Maven until this point. While trying to install Maven plugin from m2e (Maven integration for eclipse) site, as per the instructions, I ran into further troubles. I was getting the exact same error even while I was trying to install m2e. Alternatively, Maven plugin can also be downloaded by selecting it from the list of available updates for Eclipse. Someone suggested that I uninstall the old Maven plugin and then install the new one. Unfortunately that didn’t help either.

So after spending a whole day on a very simple task of getting started with Android Development, a blessed soul answered my prayers. The problem it seems was that you need to be running Eclipse as Administrator to be able to install plugin (at least for Indigo)!!! Duhhh!!!!

This is not ridiculous. IT’S HORRENDOUS.

For someone as faithful a companion as Eclipse has been for me over the years, I would expect it to not act like my girlfriend and tell me clearly what the problem is rather than beating around the bush.

Windows 7 woes

Since a couple of days I was experiencing problems with my T420 i5 laptop. I am running Windows 7 and I was experiencing frequent BSOD crashes. I tried to dig into the memory dump. In the process, I learnt that the minidump which is supposed to be generated upon a crash does not get generated by default and needs to be enabled manually. It looked like minidumps are of limited use anyway and memory dumps needs to be analyzed with a separate windows debugger tool WinDbg, which I have never used before.

As every smart geek is well aware of, digging into the problem is a stupid and probably the last thing to do. The first thing to do is to google for the problem. Strangely there was not much mention of the problem which had increased to such extent that I was having a crash every couple of minutes, rendering the machine completely useless. I heard from some friends that they are having similar problem. The only pointers I could get, suggested that the problem was with the video drivers. Trying to update the video drivers through Windows control panel doesn’t help since according to Windows, the drivers are up-to-date.

Finally fixed the problem by manually downloading video drivers from and installing.

Left, right and Center

Extremism, I believe,  is the most gruesome abuse of one’s righteous belief. People, more often than not, take a fanatical stand only to drive their point home. Being born in this great country called India, I have come to understand what makes the people of this country tick. In a nation with the length, breadth, population, and diversity in every respect, as large as India it is ridiculous to make any sweeping statement which would be fitting for the whole of country. And yet, there are so many traits, link, dots that the country has left on the pages of history over thousands of years, which when connected together form very distinct, comprehensible patterns.

Buddhism and Jainism have their origin in India, Buddhism being one of the widely followed religions in the world and more popular in the far-east. What makes Buddhism different from the more popular beliefs like Hinduism and Islam is that, it was born as a result of an attempt to bring together the best teachings of the contemporary religions in accordance with Buddha’s own understanding of the world and attaining Nirvana.  Buddhism represents a confluence of a large number of fragmented spiritual understandings and for me, on a spiritual plateau, it stands in the center.

From time immemorial, India has represented this ideology and have taken this stand of choosing the middle path when faced with options of tilting either to left or the right. This is true even in literal/physical sense of the term. Since its partition and emergence of new nations of East Pakistan and West Pakistan (now Bangladesh), India stands in the middle of two pieces of lands which were once a part of it. This ofcourse was not by choice but by a cruel happening. India has allowed to flourish every race, caste, creed and religion in the world on its land and pretty much all of them can be found here. Inspite of continuing communal tensions and riots there has not been a demand for partition based on religion ever since the creation of Pakistan. The Constitution of India respects the religious sentiments of every individual and grants him the right to practice the religion of his choice.

This is also true in the political sense of the term. India was one of the  four countries of the world who led the non-aligned movement when the world was simmering in the aftermath of the cold-war,  which threatened to turn it into a bi-polar world. Ofcourse, there are many different aspects to this story. Pandit Nehru, even to this day being the subject of criticism for his strong bias towards a socialist regime and  his affectionate relationship with Russia. Many believe, it is the legacy left behind by Nehru that haunts India even today and which is responsible for keeping India in shackles for so long. So strong was this bias and the country’s political class in denial that it refused to unlock the doors of its economy for years even after the fall of the Berlin Wall and the Soviet Union in ’89. When it did happen in ’92, it was too little, too late. Nevertheless, the country as a whole, has tried to abstain from taking sides on political tables. It has been a democratic attempt, although a struggling one, to give every political sentiment in the country, their rightful place.

Mahabharata, the oldest epic in the world and one of the holiest Hindu scriptures, is the greatest witness to the philosophy which India, or more aptly, ‘Bharat’, stands for. It tells of an incident when Yudhishthira was faced with the difficult choice of having to announce a false news of the death of Ashwatthama, son of Guru Dronacharya or lose the battle at the hands of DronacharyaYudhishthira, being the epitome of truth and honesty, and hence known as Dharmaraja, refuses to speak a lie. Instead, under the guidance of Lord Krishna, he chooses a middle path. He only announces the death of Ashwatthama after someone had killed an elephant by the same name.

It also tells of an incident, when Arjuna is faced with the difficult choice of having to fight a battle with his own brothers, teachers and his respected elders. In another instance where Arjuna hesitates to pull his arrow upon the mighty and invincible Karna, who even without his armor that made him immortal, is so powerful that even the great warrior Arjuna  having Lord Krishna himself by his side and blessed with the power of  Lord Hanumana on the flag of his chariot proves weaker in the battle. Lord Krishna convinced Arjuna that it was not Adharma to attack and kill Karna while he was unarmed and trying to remove his chariot wheels out of the mud and that it was his only chance to defeat the great warrior.

It was on the advice of Lord Krishna that Bhima was able to bring down Duryodhana in the final battle which lasted many days but only by violating the rules of the fight and hitting Duryodhana on his thighs, the only place of his body which did not have divine protection given by his mother Gaandhari. 

What Lord Krishna has tried to preach all through Mahabharata, and through his greatest teachings – Geeta, is the path of righteousness but with pragmatism and the ultimate understanding of what constitutes righteousness.

Legend has it that the last Hindu Emperor of India, Prithviraj Chauhan, defeated Muhammad Ghauri many times but released him out of mercy when Ghauri pleaded before him. But Ghauri kept attacking Delhi and finally defeated Prithviraj. Prithviraj, although a great Emperor, was killed by his kindness towards the hostile Muslim attackers. He set an example of Indian diplomatic mindset and how India deals with foreign powers almost 1000 years ago.

India has a no-first-use nuclear policy. India is the only nation which is not party to the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty and yet has been allowed to import Nuclear technology and Uranium from countries like Australia, France and USA. This has been the proof of faith that the world puts in India which has been acquired over the years through exemplary diplomacy in a tough neighborhood.

I guess these are the characteristics that define Indianism. It has been our way of life for thousands of years. There has been very few instances of radical changes in mindset with respect to social and cultural practices in our society. People are resistant to overnight changes in the things they are used to and take for granted, although it is true for any society. To make complete sense of it, changes in Indian society will have to be noticed not in isolation but holistically with its history.