Wisdom from Fallon

Its been a while since I’ve read a series of books with as much fascination as  have read Jennifer Fallon’s many books.  The books are fantasy and would be considered lousy pulp-fiction by most. However, I find, that the books are both entertaining and educational.

I started reading them when someone told me I should move beyond Potter and Eragon, and of course, because I believe in all things magical. 😛

Fallon’s achievement is in creating a fragile and very human-like tale about fictitious countries and people. The crowning achievement, of all her books (actually only six, since I’ve read only those many), is “Elezaar’s Rules of Gaining and Wielding Power“. I will not tell you who or what Elezaar is, go read. The rest is obvious.

What is so astounding about these? The fact that they are incredibly applicable to real life – even for those of us who lead very ordinary lives.

Read for yourself:

1. Have a reason other than the pursuit of power, for pursuing it

2. Accept what you cannot change — change that which is unacceptable

3. Never appear to do better than your peers

4. Trust only yourself

5. Conceal your weaknesses, advertise your strengths

6. Regardless of who does the actual work — find a way to take the glory

7. Make others seek your aid

8. Use your enemies’ weaknesses against them

9. Keep people dependent on you — particularly those who might one day grow strong enough to challenge you

10. Your reputation is like a virgin — once violated it can never be restored

11. Do the unexpected

12. Kill the gander and the geese will be yours to slaughter at will

13. Never appear too bright or too clever

14. The people on the front line are closest to the problem — listen to their wisdom and then make their solutions your own

15. The mob likes a show — give them one as often as you can

16. Promise nothing

17. Scorn that which is out of reach, do not envy it

18. Never let an enemy’s blood splash on you — mud sticks but it’s easier to wash off than blood

19. Be merciful when it doesn’t matter — ruthless when it does

20. It is sometimes better to have an enemy on the inside looking out, than on the outside looking in

21. Demand change of others — but take it slowly yourself

22. Know when to ignore your advisors

23. Ask for help only from those in whose best interest it lies to aid you

24. Don’t lie — use only those parts of the truth that will aid you

25. Be generous — and keep a tally

26. Owe no man a favor

27. Let others argue while you take action

28. Know when to declare victory

29. Eventually, every leader must make the final decision

30. Never rely on lasting order — everything changes

Sure there is a lot of “blood and enemies” in there, but still. The rules apply.

While on the subject of partners…

I’ve had the occasion lately to wonder what sort of ‘partner’ would be perfect. People undoubtedly change, so here is my list- at this point in time:

1. A person who understands ‘love’ and ‘relationships’ the way I understand it. This is probably the singularly most important thing to keeping a relationship going. There’s no point to a relationship where you feel un-loved and the other person feels unappreciated.

2. Someone who has time for you, above all else. This doesn’t mean the person doesn’t have a life — but within that life prioritizes you and your happiness above all else.

3. Someone who isn’t so truthful that it becomes an excuse and isn’t so dishonest that you get shocked.

4. Someone who is always proud of you and is willing to demonstrate it.

5. A person to take a holiday with, to just run-away with and be with.

6. Laughing partner.

7. Someone who gets the little things right – gifts you (even if only a single petal), does what you request on time, surprises you, calls you and is nice to you.

8. Reliable. Not someone who you need to think fifty times about before you ask them to do something for you.

9. A vertebrate – Seriously. Someone who has the guts to own you up and fight for you and more importantly fight to be with you. Within a reasonable time-frame.

10. A friend. Nothing that you can’t talk about. Nothing you can’t do.

That, could be a high set of expectations. Still, one can hope. After all one does not want to be the cloud across the sun…

Housing Husbands…

I want to buy a house. I’m a single, salaried (ahem well-salaried) woman. I need a home loan. I did some research. Turns out Indian banks will give me a loan that is roughly five times my annual income. Unfortunately for me, the value of the property I intend to buy, is more than five times my annual income.

In order to enhance my loan amount I can do three things: a) find a better paying job and then apply for a loan, b) get a better degree and c) find a husband. Let’s let point ‘a’ be for the moment. I always knew MBAs had a distinct advantage in the world, but having a husband? Oh how biased is the world against the single woman.

So now I want to buy a husband.

I can’t be the only single woman in the world who needs an enhanced house loan. I wouldn’t at all be surprised if there was an informal market for husbands. Imagine….

A market where one could pick a husband by his loan-enhancement capability. The MBA men will be the most pricey. The market would then be flooded with fake MBA types – enter rating agencies to certify the authenticity of house-loan-enhancing-would-be husbands. Such a rating agency would work exactly the way a credit rating agency does. When the size of the market grows and banks finally catch-on, the government will abolish the husband requirement.

Why then make husbands a housing-loan enhancement criteria in the first place?


Just A Little Time…

Just a little time,

moments, reason and laughter…

Just a little time is enough.

To make a familiar face fade away,

To forget what the fingers and toes felt like…

To put away the long hours and the shorter days,

Just a little time is enough.

To replace the red of the shirt with the red of a new dress…

To replace your music with my silence,

To replace and fill,

Just a little time is enough.

And still I wonder how ‘little’ is enough?

In the trees, in the busy streets, in your empire and in my home…

Just a little time is enough.

To make what was ours – into yours and mine…

Just a little time is enough.

How to be illogically ‘Activist’

Hey, I have nothing against activism or activists. Activists are a great part of civil society and democracy – they’re what keeps the system going, but still, when someone has an opinion; it irks me that they don’t think it all the way through.

Sample some writing by two such activist types.

The first is an open letter to Amitabh Bacchan written by Mallika Sarabhai about his endorsement of Gujarat, the second is a review of ‘My Name is Khan’ by Jawed Naqvi. Take a look at the article by clicking on the link and I’ve reproduced Mallika’s letter below:

Greetings from a Gujarati.

You are indeed a fine actor. You are an intelligent man and a shrewd businessman. But should I believe in your endorsements?

Let’s take a brief look at what you proclaim you believe in (albeit for huge sums of money). BPL, ICICI, Parker and Luxor pens, Maruti Versa, Cadbury chocolates. Nerolac paints. Dabur, Emami, Eveready, Sahara City Homes, D’damas, Binani Cement and Reliance.

And now Gujarat .

I wonder how you decide what to endorse. Is your house built with Binani Cement? Do you really like Cadbury’s chocolates or do you have to resort to Dabar’s hajmola (whose efficacy you have earlier checked) after eating them?

And having endorsed two pens, one very upmarket and one rather down, which one do you use? Have you, except perhaps for the shooting of the ad, ever driven or been driven in a Versa? Do you know whether the Nerolac paint in your home (you do use it don’t you?) has lead in it that can poison you slowly as it does so many people? Or are the decisions entirely monetary?

It has been reported that no direct fee will be paid to you for being my Brand Ambassador. So, with no monetary decision to guide you, how did you decide to say yes? Did you check on the state of the State? I doubt it, for the decision and the announcement came from one single meeting. And I somehow doubt that you have been following the news on Gujarat closely.

So, as a Gujarati, permit me to introduce my State to you.

Everyone knows of our vibrancy, of the billions and trillions pouring into our State through the two yearly jamborees called Vibrant Gujarat. But did you know that by the government’s own admission no more than 23% of these have actually moved beyond the MOU stage? That while huge subsidies are being granted to our richest business houses, over 75000 small and medium businesses have shut down rendering one million more people jobless?

You know of Gujarat ’s fast paced growth and the FDI pouring in, you have no doubt seen pictures of the Czars of the business world lining up to pour money to develop us. To develop whom? Did you know that our poor are getting poorer? That while the all India reduction in poverty between ’93 and 2005 is 8.5%, in Gujarat it is a mere 2.8%? That we have entire farmer families committing suicide, not just the male head of the household?

You have heard of how some mealy mouthed NGO types have been blocking the progress of the Narmada project, how the government has prevailed, and water is pouring down every thirsty mouth and every bit of thirsty land. But did you know that in the 49 years since it was started, and in spite of the Rs.29,000 crores spent on it, only 29% of the work is complete?

That the construction is so poor (lots of sand added to the you- know- which cement perhaps) that over the last 9 years there have been 308 breaches, ruining lakhs of farmers whose fields were flooded, ruining the poorest salt farmers whose salt was washed away? That whereas in 1999, 4743 of Gujarat ’s villages were without drinking water, within two years that figure had gone up to 11,390 villages ? (I can not even begin to project those figures for today – but do know that the figure has gone up dramatically rather than down.)

With our CM, hailed as the CEO of Gujarat, we have once again achieved number one status – in indebtedness. In 2001 the State debt was Rs.14000 crores. This was before the State became a multinational company. Today it stands at Rs.1,05,000 crores. And to service this debt we pay a whopping Rs7000 crores a year, 25% of our annual budget.

Meanwhile our spending on education is down, no new public hospitals for the poor are being built, fishermen are going a begging as the seas turn turgid with effluents, more mothers die at birth per thousand than in the rest of India , and our general performance on the Human Development Index is nearly the first – from the bottom. One rape a day, 17 cases of violence against women, and , over the last ten years, 8802 suicides and 18152 “accidental “ deaths of women are officially reported. You can imagine the real figures.

You have said that you are our Ambassador because we have Somnath and Gandhi. Somnath was built for people. Gandhiji was a man of the people. Do the people of this State matter to you? If they do, perhaps your decision will be different. I hope you will read this letter and decide.

In warmth and friendship,


So let’s begin with Mallika’s letter.

Amitabh Bacchan is a well known actor, he endorses a range of products on television. I’m not going to contest the list – but here is the rub, Mallika asks – should she (and also the people of Gujarat) believe in his endorsements? I have a problem with the framing of this question.

Does the fact that Amitabh Bacchan endorses a bunch of products also mean that he has to believe in them? Let me explain. Acting is a trade, a business – models do commercials for money and so does Amitabh Bacchan. Unless you truly believe that Amitabh Bacchan also did every single film of his because he ‘subscribed’ to everything his character/role said/did on screen; this strikes me a ridiculous argument.

An advertisement is an advertisement; yes the media has great power to influence and all that; but does endorsing a product automatically translate into belief? (I’m not getting into the Nerolac question – lead poisoning, citation?)

Next, Amitabh Bacchan said he would endorse the ‘Gujarat campaign’ without any money, so? If Amitabh Bacchan felt that he wants to endorse Gujarat because of Somnath and Gandhi (note, not Modi) and without money; is there a problem with that intention?

Mallika also points out Gujarat is in a state of  indebtedness, this advertisement would have influenced tourism and income (positively) – strange then, that the rant is about Gujarat’s problems and the attack is on a minor effort to help. Most interestingly, if anyone has taken note of Amitabh Bacchan’s political inclinations – whatever they might be, they are certainly not Modiwards at any rate.

And while on the subject of endorsement, why not also attack Kiran Bedi for endorsing Fair and Lovely, surely that was a more upfront endorsement for colour-based discrimination by a woman icon of this county. Or is it that – Amitabh Bacchan supporting Gujarat’s tourism is a larger issue than fairness creams? Or maybe Kiran Bedi’s was an endorsement and Amitabh Bacchan’s was a carefully orchestrated mind game of support to Modi? I don’t about you – but to me this is far-fetched.

Mallika says Amitabh wanted a tax-free screening in Gujarat, a Rajyasabha seat for his wife, and free land for a film city. We don’t know the source of this information. Even if Amitabh wanted a tax free screening of Paa in Gujarat, so what? A lot of film stars request similar things from a bunch of CMs, is this any worse? Paa was a decent film. I don’t know about the other two claims, aside of the fact that it is hearsay. I have a problem with the wording and argumentation of this letter.

Moving on to Jawed Naqvi’s review of My Name Is Khan. MNIK is not a great film, it is barely a good film. The second half is longer than it should be  and stretches beyond imagination. The Khan has overacted and Kojol isn’t convincing. I’ve seen the film. However, MNIK is not a pro-saffron brigade film. That is my problem with Jawed Naqvi’s take on MNIK.

Second, Narendra Modi’s politics is not only about stereotypes. In fact, stereotypes are quite the secondary theme of his politics. The closest thing to stereotypes in Modi’s politics is xenophobia – a fear of the ‘Other’; which is a theme that MNIK manages to address fairly well. Modi’s politics is hate politics, it is an anti-minority stand that functions through many ways and stereotypes are one of those ways, certainly not the only way.

Thirdly, in the film – Khan does not let the FBI catch a bunch of angry muslims who were protesting Modi and Bush. He catches sight of a bunch of Islamist extremists.  I want to know – if you feel angry about the plight of Muslims in Gujarat, Palestinians or Kashmiri’s should you be plotting to blow up Americans or Hindus in India? Is that the answer?

Surely, Mr. Naqvi recognizes that as they are Modis so there are mullahs. Opposing Modi doesn’t mean you should not oppose a mullah.

Mr. Jawed’s next problem is oversimplification. Khan’s mother (in the film) tells him there are two types of people; good and bad. Yes there are. This has nothing to do with autism. This holds true for normal people too. In bad times, it is what people do with their anger (and shades of grey) that make them do good or bad things. You could be angry about Palestine and take up arms or you could join a peace movement. Go ahead – classify. Good or Bad?

Indeed it is nonsense that MNIK suggests that outrage against Palestine and the Gujarat pogrom is shared only by Muslims. The fact that the movie brings the journey of one Rizwan Khan to the media (in the movie) implies that the message “of peace and that all Muslims are not terrorists” goes out to those who watch television in general – unless in Mr. Naqvi’s world only Muslims watch television.

Why Mrs. Khan asks Naqvi – why not? All over India and the world many women out of choice adopt their husband’s last names. There is no indication in the movie, that Mandira (Kajol) does this out of anything but choice. If the argument is that women should not have to change their names, that is a valid argument for another day. A lot of much married women don’t change names and many do because they’d like to, or because tradition says so and they haven’t actively had a problem with that.

The problem with the Naqvi point of view is that it berates a brave film. A long, not very great – but still brave film.

It was in India that the screening of Anand Patwardhan’s War and Peace was banned. Take a look at the progress – Karan Johar (a mainstream  family-drama film making director) makes a film about religious profiling.  I think that is great news. Just as Obama becoming president – sure Obama hasn’t done as much as he could about de-nuking the world and Karan didn’t make a perfect film. Does that mean we should turn away from the progress? I don’t think so.

Oh um eh….I wear a bra…

By now you know all about this, but just in case you don’t, here is a link you could read. If you, however, do not like links and don’t look up things on the net that you read about – then here is a summary:

There is a meme going around Facebook. A lot of women, (me included) received an e-mail (forwarded), from other girl friends we know — suggesting that we change our status messages to a one word colour that reflects the bra we’re currently wearing.

Why? Because it might be a fun, silly, puzzling-to-men thing to do and also raise awareness about breast cancer along the way. How? One version of the story is that smart men will track down the mail and see that breast cancer figures in the mail – another version is that the mail originated from a breast cancer awareness organization.

A lot of my friends (and apparently a lot of women) did as the e-mail suggested. I counted twenty plus colourful status messages ranging from fawn, pink, white to multi-coloured. Mine said “black” for the record. A while later I started seeing e-mails going back and forth; several which objected to this entire exercise. I like summarizing things – so in summary there were two kinds of responses a) Don’t–  this is stupid/embarrassing etc, and b) Don’t do this – I’m worried this trivializes the entire breast cancer cause.

I’m terribly worried by the latter. This opinion is both stupid, embarrassing and frankly many times worse than ‘trivializing’. Here is why:

1. It is stupid because it betrays a fear about discussing a ‘private matter’. There is nothing really private about a bra colour. In any sense. Men are privy to the vast variety of leopard prints on bras in some of the biggest malls in this country. They are also privy to the cheap, and equally designer, replicas in road side shops. Besides, nobody forced anyone into sharing the colour of their bra. What is so troublesome about seeing a bra colour openly shared? Nothing.

What is troublesome, to these sorts of people, is that so many women spontaneously shared their bra colours (I have no doubt many lied – but a fair share must have been genuine too; at any rate the truthful or fictitious nature of the color is quite irrelevant) and GASP many of them were ‘committed’ or even ‘married’. Now, I don’t know about you, but I think this is quite close to being stupid.

2. Let’s talk about embarrassment. Clearly women who voluntarily shared this information were quite unashamed. If they were embarrassed they probably would never have done it. These women also already knew about breast cancer and felt obligated (morally) to pass the information on. We’ll discuss if Facebook memes are necessarily the best mechanism to do this, in a bit.

Now, I can’t see, why I (or anyone else) should be embarrassed about passing information about breast cancer. As a matter of fact – I would feel very embarrassed if I didn’t. Clearly embarrassment goes a long way. To my mind, if people could be embarrassed into reading (which does not automatically translate into knowing/remembering or internalizing) about breast cancer, let there be more embarrassment.

3. Trivializing the issue. This the big one. This is where all the activists and gender warriors stand up wag their fingers at you. “This is all very well… but won’t men just guffaw silently about bra colours and boobs and not really give breast cancer the concern it deserves? Besides, breast cancer is a serious issue – not a joke about bras and colours, right? Wrong. Wrong because there is a huge framing problem going on here. It is poor logic. If I say I am against capital punishment is that the same thing as me saying that I believe ‘all crime should go unpunished’?

Will men silently guffaw? Sure. Many will, some definitely will. But that is not the point. Let’s go back to the question I asked in point number 2. Are Facebook memes a good way to spread awareness? Depends of how you define the objective. The objective, I think, of the meme was to raise awareness about the existence of breast cancer. Awareness is, to me,  planting a thought. Waving a word in someone’s face. If I scream “BOOBS” and get three men to pay attention and manage to say three lines about breast cancer after – what is the likely outcome?

One scenario is – the man derives some happiness from the word ‘boobs’ and moves on. Scenario 2 – The man remembers about the boobs but also about breast cancer. He has a busy day – but when he casually surfs the net, he looks it up. Maybe he has daughters who he discusses the issue with, maybe he asks his partner.

Scenario 3 – Maybe the chap does nothing other than repeat this “silly story” to another guy, who then tells some other guy…. information spreads. One of those guys is from scenario 2.

So we have a lot of lousy and different outcomes – but some positive ones too. Are the positive outcomes worth it? You decide. What are the losses? Some guys, who wouldn’t have cared either way, still don’t – they occupy the same spot on the indifference curve. Some guys act as carriers of the message. Positive outcome. Some guys, who might not have cared, (if not for the meme) actually read about it. Positive Outcome. Is the breast cancer cause doing any worse than it was in the absence of the meme? You pick.

I also said that response two (the accusation  of trivializing) does some damage. How?

One of the best things about the internet is that information is easily accessible. It doesn’t cost me more than two clicks to read about breast cancer – right now. This is the magic of hyper linked documents. The power of a social media tool (like Facebook) and a meme on it, is that it, adds personal credibility. I get a message from a friend, I read it. Even if it is a meme. Then there is the hope to leverage huge numbers. Most critically – the internet is fun.

In school, I hated statistical classes, because the information was in boring histograms and I had to draw to scale on printed graph paper. There was no undo button if I made a mistake. The cost of drawing that graph and making an error was astronomically high in that context. I had to use an eraser and hope that all the rubbing wouldn’t tear my graph paper. In college, I discovered infographics, beautiful non-histogram ways to understand statistical data. And I could create my own (on excel back then) and make as many mistakes as I wanted – because I could ‘undo’. How did I start enjoying a subject I hated? It was made fun.

Surely, there can be no better way to attract attention to a deserving cause, than by making ‘awareness’ fun? If someone wanted to get people to look up ‘breast cancer’, by mentioning coloured bras because it is fun, how is that a bad outcome?

Here is a real bad outcome – by diluting the enthusiasm to share important information and getting minds to look up ‘breast cancer’ – you’re actually hurting the cause. Time and time again I meet people in the social sector – who like occupying the high ground by using this word ‘trivialize’.

Here is how to trivialize a genuinely good idea —

The internet using population has quick and easy access to information. The meme architect has a hook that catches the eye, a free mechanism to do the networking and a social media tool to add credibility — and what do you do? You worry about bad outcomes because you think people will misunderstand.Worse still, you air those views.

Some timid people out there, who would have liked to be a part of this information chain, have now opted out because your raised doubts. In the words of Steven E Landsburg — you have polluted the communal stream of information that had clear positive spillover effects. If you don’t like Economics — this means there are now fewer people to influence more people. Now that is a bad outcome.

I would not worry so much about people’s understanding. People are genuinely rational. Also, despite my description of men, many are not as awful as one likes to believe and are happy to learn and even help.

So what colour is your bra? 🙂

PS: This is not to say that there aren’t better ways to raise awareness. Neither am I saying that different questions and issues cannot be raised. Cultural sensibilities, prices, attitudes, aspirations and a bunch of other things are extraordinarily important. I’m not entirely sure if breast cancer is a women’s issue alone or if getting men involved is enough.

The point is – you can’t attack an attempt to raise awareness by saying “you aren’t saying all there is to be said on the subject”. Of course not. If the bra meme gets people interested in breast cancer – the internet is a great place to learn, about the weightier and by no means inconsequential issues, in this arena — and breastcancer.org is an excellent place to begin.

What I learnt from last year

Ideally I would never like to think about 2009 again. In all respects it was a terrible year.

Here is what I learnt from 2009 — for whatever it is worth:

1. Getting fired – I learnt that intelligence does not guarantee that you keep a job. To make matters worse, self-respect sometimes guarantees that you won’t keep the job.

2. Leaving half way for higher pay – Places that do want you cannot afford to pay you enough. I thought I had a conscience, but, I still quit without notice for more money.

3. Everything looks glossy on the outside – Fancy reputations hide some terrible troubles within. Don’t judge a book (or institution, person or process) by the cover.

4. Repairing relationships – Think about being hauled over the coals. Now think about being hauled all the way back again. Think about what you are willing to do and for who – otherwise you will keep wondering why you started out with this.

5. Diets – I cannot live without rice, meat, some sugar and juice.

6. Winter – Do not underestimate the power of wollen socks. Even if you have stinky feet.

7. Friends and family – I need a crowd, the loneliness bites – especially in winter.

8. Saving the world – I could have chosen a better career for myself. This one has an awful amount of frustration.

9. Computers – I am not a computer mechanic. I wish I had never boasted about my computer prowess. Also – never offer to teach people how to use new software. NEVER.

10. Weekends and Vacations – Go on one, don’t plan – go. I wish I did.

11. Music – It doesn’t matter what kind. Its all good enough to drive out the voices in your heart and head.

12. Prayer – It is supremely comforting to believe that someone is driving all this sh** to a destination.

13. Children’s books – Go read them again even if you’re seventy. Happyness.

14. Marketing – SHAM and LIES. Repeat.

15. Frameworks – The most important tool to think.

16 . Believing in self – Only you know what you can do, it doesn’t matter how great other people think you are.

Happy new year all – I hope your year was better than mine and I hope 2010 is great for all of you too!

Snazz and Pretty(ness)…

Development intervention evaluations are lousy for a bunch of reasons.

Organizations tend to overestimate their ‘impact’ – because they forget that their results are valid only for the population they track across time. They forget that ‘impact’ is subject to particular geographies, economic conditions, culture, aspirations and the opportunity costs beneficiaries place on participating in the intervention.

But there isn’t anything unduly surprising about this situation. After all development runs on funds and funds go to those who have the best impact. Sorry – let me rephrase to those who demonstrate the best impact.

If validity of research and impact doesn’t concern you – you aren’t alone. So what if people massage the data a bit or design studies to show a particular effect? In the end, people are ’empowered’ with all sorts of things right?

Children are empowered to go to school, parents are empowered to have ‘safe sex’ and communities are empowered to drink freshwater…. NB: Just don’t ask by how much!

I’m now a development sector person – so here is what I sit and do all day at a premiere development sector organization; answer questions.

Sample this:

If I said 7.2% of all children in India in the age group of X & Y do this – it is the same thing as saying 7.2% of all TV watching children in the same age-group do this, right?

My job description says I should be available at all times to answer ad hoc data requests to support other staff. Data pornographer.

But wait there is more . The ever present request for snazzy graphs and pretty graphs. I have nothing against good looking graphs. In fact, data visualization is a lovely discipline.

Nevertheless – there is something particularly vile about a request for a pretty/snazzy graph in the absence of good data. A poorly coloured graph which has some half-way decent data to show can still make a tonne of sense. But when a picture of a graph is sent you and you are asked to recreate a pretty version in excel – you know it is a lost battle.

Monopolizing TED

This post is an opinion. It is important that I state this upfront given the probability that its likely to be taken badly. This post is an opinion. Re-Stated. Opinion. Period.

Lately, I’ve become a big fan of saying things ‘upfront’ along with becoming a fan of ‘staying in the loop’, ‘re-defining impact’, ‘being on the same page’ and the like, but all that is a story for a different day.

TEDIndia is happening. TED has been ‘happening’, in a better way – for longer. Years ago, when TED found me – I spent several days downloading mp4 (s) to my Ipod. Qualitatively, what made the videos/talks different, was the fact that they celebrated the ‘small fry’, voices that haven’t been heard before.

Now take a look at the TEDIndia’s speakers list.

If you work with development in India – almost all those names are familiar to you. Where are the new ideas? Where is the innovation? A huge percentage of the potential speakers represent the ‘social enterprise’ space, there are also the ‘microfinance guys’, the ‘development economists’ and all then some more.

Some of these guys have done great work in the past. They’ve shaped the development space into what it currently is. They’ve also run out of ideas. Not to mention the ‘legendary-ness” of Usha Uthup.

Clearly, many of these people are established ‘greats’ with good reason. They’re excellent speakers and ,yes, maybe those of in this niche ‘development’ sector do know them – but this is about Global Recognition (with G and R in CAPITALS).

I beg to differ – clearly this is about fund raising and hobnobbing. Nothing wrong with that, just state it upfront.

So here’s my quibble — the idea was for TED bring ‘inspired’ thinking to the rest of us. On this front, TEDIndia – well you’ve failed me.

PS: This post, of course, has nothing to do with the fact that boss(es) are also on the speakers list. 😛