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Golden Temple Amritsar – Where Renovation Never Stops January 10, 2016

Posted by simarp in : Blogging, Sikhism , add a comment

I have been visiting Darbar Sahib/ Harminder Sahib/ Golden Temple almost every year for over 30 years now. Two things have been consistent lines of devotes have been becoming longer and the renovation at the complex has never stopped. Over last 12 months or so the list of additions is mind blowing and character changing of the complex. 60 plus years old shops on the periphery of Darbar Sahib Complex are all gone. Hmm… it may not be right to say they are gone, maybe it is more appropriate to say that the periphery has moved by almost 50 meters and the shops are once again on the periphery.

Parking, Shops, Joraghar (Place for keeping shoes), parameter walls, Darshani Deori and all the open area between Darshani Deori and Akal Takht Sahib have had various changes. In one of the major changes Saropa and Patasa Parshad are now given at a cash counter in one of the rooms in Parikarma area. The langar complex is also changing a lot, it has become bigger with a defined waiting area. Two new guest houses have also come up. The biggest changes have happened from the Darshani Deori to the main Darbar Sahib Gurdwara. Starting from temporary structure over the walkway from Deori to the gates of Darbar Sahib, the roof has become permanent, though some would still call it temporary. it has lights fans and rows of vigilance cameras and LCD/LED roof mounted televisions sharing the Shabads being recited inside.  Even the place for taking Jal has been transformed completely.

Toilet complexes are still a challenge and miles away from completion and  good access.

30 years back by and large Parikarma  and prayers use to take about 20 minutes on a regular day and an hour on a Gurpurab. Now it takes about two hours on a normal day and 4-5 hours on a Gurpurab day.

Is Saudi Arabia Israel’s Ally? January 3, 2016

Posted by simarp in : Blogging , add a comment

Just asking, is Saudi Arabia an official Israeli ally now? Why would they go ahead and do precisely what would please Israel? The only country in the world with reason to celebrate if Iran gets into chaos is Israel. Israel has never been threatened by Saudi Arabia, it kind of has always believed that Saudis do exactly as the US wants and the US would always back Israel, so it works magically for them.

It has always been suspected that Israel and Saudi Arabia, though have no formal diplomatic relations,  work in tandem when it comes to Iran. Is it the latest intelligence coordination example between them? Is it that Israel and Saudi Arabia once again felt that Iran’s influence is growing in the region, specially because of Russia playing a major role in Syria? On its own for Israel to hold back Iran is a big challenge but with behind the scenes coordination with Saudi Arabia, Israel has a chance of keeping Iran under check. After all the biggest winner of last 10 years of unrest in the middle east is Israel, let the Arabs and Shia-Sunni fight among themselves and let them just ensure that Palestinians don’t have a window of sympathy, simple strategy.

Iran has declared Sheikh Nimr al-Nimr as a martyr and has threatened Israel of what they call “Divine Revenge”. If it is divine can it be a revenge? As per Iran Sheikh Nimr al-Nimr was a peaceful cleric and his execution along with 40 plus others is an instigation with no parallel. Police in Iran delayed action to allow protesters to ransack and burn Saudi Embassy in Iran, of course it is delayed action. No police in the world can be this incompetent that an embassy can be brought down by protesters unless the protesters are supported by the State.

Next few weeks would be more about revenge and less about divinity in the Middle East theater and once again it is the US whose actions and inaction would be closely watched.

US Deports Indian Students January 3, 2016

Posted by simarp in : Blogging , add a comment

It started as a trickle and has soon become a constant trickle with a gush once in a while and back to trickle. With each deportation over hundred dreams get smothered and innumerable nights become dark forever. Is it suddenly that the US has become vigilant? Is it only Hyderabad consulate which hasn’t been doing its due diligence right?  Is it just two universities which are under some secret investigation and students who have been admitted to these universities are being deported back? What is going to happen to thousands who are already studying in these two universities, are they all going to come back? Why is the Ministry of External Affairs not issuing a statement? These and innumerable questions have dampened new year spirits in Hyderabad and have brought the spotlight on what all is broken in the American immigration system.

Student Visa is a multistage process, it takes at least an year from the time you make up your mind to study in the US, usually two years. There are a few tests mandatory and then you can apply for admission, after you get a provisional admission you request for an I-20 form and once you’ve your I-20 you apply for Visa. I-20 comes after the institute you are applying for has satisfied itself on your need, applicability, desire and paying capacity for the course. Student Visa is no guarantee for your citizenship of the US in a few years, but it is always seen as that. Is this the real reason? All of us have heard stories about visa interviews, in one of the stories a visa officer asked “what course you wish to do?” answer was “Computers”. Next question was “what do you wish to do in computers?” Answer was again “Computers” no wonder Visa was not granted. Is there something else which is happening? Why is Customs and Border Protection doubting Visas issued by their own sister department? Is there a competency issue or is it indicative of corruption at some quarters of the US establishment? Either of the cases are disastrous for the reputation of the US.  But it is still happening.

A few weeks back there was a news that Air India off-boarded a few students at Hyderabad itself, is profiling important by the airline? Were they told to off-board? Is an airline expected to find out “fake students” who have not been identified by Visa officers? Looks like a tall order.  Over 50,000 Visas were issued by Hyderabad consulate, around 100 have been stopped from leaving the country or deported, a very small number, if it stops at that. if the investigations reveal a bigger challenge then these students may not be allowed to comeback to the US or worse they may be identified and sent back from their respective colleges and classes.

It is time for Indian Government to take this matter seriously, we don’t want to wait for a few suicides for us to realize that this is a serious issue and an immediate remedy needs to be found.

 

Pathankot Attack or India Under Attack January 2, 2016

Posted by simarp in : Blogging, India , add a comment

We look at terror with a very myopic vision in India, we see an attack at an Air Base in Pathankot as a Pathankot Attack. The whole media, the whole Twitterati are talking about Pathankot, where is Pathankot? Pathankot is in India. It is India under attack and not Pathankot or India’s part of Punjab. We belittle our own soldiers when we do not go all out in our condemnation.

It is so sad that Honorable PM of India who is otherwise hyper-active on Twitter chooses silence when chips are really down. What was wrong in his connecting with people the minute the attack happened by saying,  this is unacceptable and instructing Nawaz Sharif to hold his men. At the same time the PM of India must check with BSF and armed forces on what all more can be done to stop infiltration from across the border.

Our media needs to be pulled up for writing “4 terrorists and 2 soldiers killed” in one sentence. Our soldiers have not been killed, they have been murdered inside their home. When would our media get it, we don’t know.

I, personally, still feel that our PM stopping by at Lahore was a good gesture, it is gestures like this which allow for hope to live. At the same time, it is also important that we must show our resentment in unlimited measures too. We must demand that Pakistan hands over families of these terrorists to India for interrogation. We must up the ante. We must demonstrate our capabilities by ensuring that Minar-e-Pakistan is all plastered with down with terrorism slogans and an Indian hand is visible. We must demonstrate our strength by hosting a Government of Baluchistan in Exile in India and allow that Government to have its first Embassy/ High Commission in India.

India needs will. And it needs it now.

 

 

Why I buy from only Amazon India January 2, 2016

Posted by simarp in : Blogging , 1 comment so far

There are so many choices but I prefer to buy from only Amazon India and yes I have reasons for that.

1. Amazon India works beautifully on desktop/laptop and allows me to really look at what I am buying. I don’t prefer buying from an app as it becomes too busy buying.

2. My experience with Amazon has been amazing and I almost always buy through Fulfilled by Amazon feature. There is no order cancellation at all.

3. I trust Amazon product pricing and expiry date sensibilities. Have never faced a challenge on that front.

4. One account allows me to buy from both Amazon.in and Amazon.com. I use Amazon.com Prime for sending things to my daughter, it works magically.

5. Deals are deals at Amazon and they are difficult to get anywhere else.  I have bought my mobile phones and such and have actually saved money.

6. 500 and free delivery feature works for me. All gets delivered to me free.

7. Getting right instant soups is a challenge at a local grocer, but not at Amazon. Quality of prunes is always a challenge too outside Amazon. These are my two food items which are now always sourced through Amazon.

8. Amazon reflects business values like the house of Tatas, they are generous and fair in their business dealing.

9. Most of Amazon is available on CoD and for the rest I trust their debit card handling.

10. I would like Amazon to expand their order portfolio faster, that will help in increasing my share of spend with them.

Odd Even Plan – Delhi January 1, 2016

Posted by simarp in : Blogging, Delhi , add a comment

The city of Delhi has a problem of pollution. Most have criticized the Odd-Even plan introduced in Delhi, none have suggested alternate solutions with the same or similar strength as they have used to rubbish this plan

Yes, I voted for Aam Aadmi Party in elections 2015. Yes, I believe they are trying to make a difference. Yes, I believe that even-odd plan has its flaws. Yes, I believe it is too little and definitely too late. But I do believe that it is about doing whatever can be done to make a difference. I believe that Delhi has bigger problems of unregulated developments. These problems have compounded Delhi’s challenge. Almost 70% of Delhi’s actual population lives in what were created as unauthorized colonies with politicians, bureaucrats and police accepting amounts to look the other way.  I have been to a few unauthorized localities in Delhi. There is no planning, no parks, no open spaces, just rows of houses and factories together. Most have no sewage system. There is lot of burning of waste which happens and there is lot of recycling of plastic which happens too. Now this is something which would take a huge effort to contain. Controlling cars on the road looks easier. Even if it reduces number of cars on Delhi roads by 20%, we would be back at least two years immediately in terms of pollution.

I believe that we all need to support not only this odd-even but any initiative which is taken to make Delhi better. I believe that over next two years our metro system would add at least 30% more capacity of moving people. I believe that would help. It would change the things. Delhi needs more roads, it needs tough decisions, it needs roads to be widened and it needs aerial roads or roads over roads at many points. If no new traffic signals are installed and we eliminate 10% of the existing, we would have much better Delhi.

Delhi also needs to be rebooted, and restructured, many offices need to be moved away from congested parts of the city to newer development areas like Narela. These are easier solutions, and just need the will of the government to do it.

Let us make Delhi work, let us make Delhi succeed. Let us support odd and even and whatever new comes our way. Let us make Delhi breathe again.

 

Welcome 2016 January 1, 2016

Posted by simarp in : Blogging , add a comment

Am i resolving that I will write on my blog everyday? No. I will try.

Am I resolving that I will be at least 10 KG lesser weight on earth? No. I will try.

Am I resolving that I will complete at least 12 books cover to cover this year? No. I will try.

Am I resolving that I will add at least 12 cities to my life where I have not slept ever? No. I will not even try to go for it.

Am I resolving that I will not eat bread and rice in any form through the year. Yes, I intend to make one such resolve. Maybe the resolve can be that i will not eat bread or rice in more than 1 meal between the two in day.

So, what is that I wish to resolve?

Here is what I wish to resolve. I wish to keep giving at least 10% of what I earn month after month.

I wish to resolve to distance myself from those who are making a living out of taking me for a ride.

I wish to resolve to respect, regard and reward those who are making a difference to this society in their own small way.

I wish to resolve to take care of my obligations better and in a more timely fashion.

I wish to resolve to really pull out and eliminate those from my life who believe in shortchanging me. Unfortunately, I have allowed them to live along and have not really punished them.

I wish to resolve to attend to my personal wealth requirements, unattended for a very long  time.

I wish to resolve to respect my life and be far more healthy than I have been in 2015.

And I do resolve to read everything I write before pressing post or publish button.

 

 

 

In Bad Taste – I am not loving this India March 12, 2015

Posted by simarp in : Blogging, India , add a comment

Yes, I am not loving this India. This is definitely not an India I was raised in. This is not my India which I would proudly call my home. This India is too noisy, it has erratic seasons, it is polluted and worst is, for none of these statements you need a proof.

Why is today’s India attempting to be glossy, where is that India’s characteristic subtle approach? This India lives between glamor and gutter, it doesn’t live between grit and glory and that is from where my dislike stems from. I need an India which provides me with space to be myself. I need an India which is not just my abode but is also an awesome comfort zone for the world. That is what the world always looked up to India for, India was a dream and not an enigma to many which walked its path, unpaved, thorny and rough  at times. India was always the journey of the spirited and the saints.

India needs to know, India needs people at the helm of affairs who know what India needs and are motivated to leave their personal agenda behind and work for the nation. There are many amongst us who really know how India can be revived, we need to encourage them to take center stage, we need to let them know we believe in them. India can happen and it is very much in our hands to make India happen. As a nation, we have made strides in field of technology, we have kind of established our credentials, we need to build on that, and unfortunately, this is where we fail. Politics takes over, opportunism calls shorts, personal agendas and vested interests clash with self serving objectives and nation goes out for a walk, on an unpaved, thorny and rough road. Compromises are considered as an option, a firm NO is not considered as one. When compromises start breathing, it is heart and mind which go through spasms and eventually die. That’s the death we need to avert. We need to build in every Indian a mindset of no compromise on fundamental issues and no compromises on spur of the moment. We have a promise to fulfill to our generations to come, we have to present to them an India which is more agile, happening and earnest than what we inherited, this India is not.

We all know what is to be done, if we just start doing our part, signals would start traveling, someone would start paving the path, someone would start removing the thorns and someone would start flattening the rocks and blunting the rough edges. Life would be good, and it would begin from us.

Let us make India happen. Let us start our journey without waiting for anyone and without waiting for any specific time.

 

 

Reinvention of Marketing the Web 2.0 Way September 17, 2008

Posted by simarprit in : Blogging, Business, Education, Internet, Marketing, Marketing Strategies, Web 2.0, Web 2.0 Expo, websites , add a comment

Brian Solis on Web 2.0 and its role in PR and Marketing, my 2 cents are all over (Brian may or may not agree)

  1. Customers are moving online, PR and Marketing needs to move beyond 1.0 which it looks like it is stuck in’
  2. Are you an influencer, or do you know influencers, bloggers are influencers and they are at it
  3. Perception is important and social web has a role in how you are looked at
  4. Defining and measuring influence can help in decision making
  5. Are you everywhere… Traditional media, Events online and offline, New Influencers, Social Networks, Blogs and Comments, Forums, Content Creation & Curation
  6. Composite strategy can work for you, all encompassing approach to PR and Marketing would help
  7. Engagement is important in PR now, not just a look or a hit.
  8. You need to be hybrid PR professional in today’s world
  9. A PR professional needs to be all it takes he has to be octopus
  10. PR today all about Public
  11. A PR professional needs to be participative a good Press Release may not lead to anything
  12. Common Sense rules the day
  13. Rules of PR are influenced by rules of Blogging, which has no rules
  14. Relationship of trust with a lot of guys
  15. Be incremental in approach, keep sharing and communicating as you go on, let the story build up fast enough
  16. WOMM (Word of Mouth Marketing) is what every thing leads to.
  17. PR today has to be organization wide
  18. Are you everywhere, exclude none
  19. Do you know where-ever you are, you just have to be everywhere.  Look at all of the key networks and measure your performance on all active networks
  20. Become a resource for people
  21. Participation is the key and not initiation
  22. Web Analytics holds the key to how you are doing
  23. Creating special landing pages for your various activities can help
  24. Quantification and tying the activity to sales helps
  25. WEB 2.0 is not frozen, there is a lot more to come so keep learning
  26. You are the brand you project
  27. Some resources – Future-works,  SocialMediaClub, sncr.org, nowisgone 

Viral Marketing – Web 2.0 Expo September 17, 2008

Posted by simarprit in : 'Viral Marketing, Blogging, Internet, Marketing Strategies, Web 2.0, Web 2.0 Expo, websites , 1 comment so far

Random thoughts and Gyan on Essentials of Viral Marketing

  1. Jonah Peretti has begun with the mess which is Web 2.0 everyone talks to everyone, something like a confernce without a moderator.
  2. Are you part of the network whch networks, are you in a position to initiate a viral. Network structure make a difference to whether your viral spreads or not…. Your network would determine whether you can start a forest fire.
  3. Influential people become the key factor to success..
  4. If it is a tree without a stem, so my question how would it gain height.
  5. People don’t know what they like, thy like to look around and like what others are doing, how can you cash this sentiment.
  6. Contagious Media – Make something which people would love to share.
  7. Accidental virals do good, so make accidents happen.
  8. Half the time in office is spent on blogging, IM, Skype etc..
  9. Bored at Work Network (BWN) can create an expert out of anyone, can you leverage it..
  10. Seed your viral with big number start big, you would reach somewhere even if you fail. LoL Jonah is calling it Big Seed Marketing
  11. Seed to extra ratio can help….
  12. Multi Seed Marketing, plant many tree, some may bear fruit…. live measurement can be a way to lookafter the seed which is reacting and becoming a tree. Multi-Seed is an option when you are sure that you are not sure what will work. So you can always remove the bad seeds and grow the ones which work.
  13. Mullet Strategy, Business upfront, party in the back….Add, edit, test, tweak, optimize, be alive — be live and remember to remove it if it is not working
  14. Histrionic works, try it alongside
  15. Cartoons work, look at using them effectively….
  16. Have focused growth strategy, obsession with quality can be additional baggage, Make what people would love.