Siliconeer: February 2001

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Volume II •
Issue 2

Publisher's Note:

The terrible tragedy that has struck Gujarat has left the entire world shocked. The strength of the temblor was staggering enough – a 7.7 on the Richter scale (the U.S. Geological Survey scaled back its estimate from an initial 7.9). No country in the world, no matter how developed, could have escaped from such a big quake.

In Gujarat the devastation has been mind numbing, and already the finger-pointing has begun. Newspapers and critics are assuming the worst, suspecting that fraudulent builders and lax government enforcement have exacerbated the destruction by the killer quake.

California is no stranger to earthquakes, and this being one of the most developed parts of the world, the question that comes to mind is how does California deal with the threat of earthquakes? Are there any lessons here for India?

We decided to ask Anil Chopra, a distinguished earthquake engineering expert. Chopra is not only the chair of the structural engineering department at the University of California at Berkeley, his many honors include a Distinguished Teaching Award from Berkeley, and his textbook on earthquake engineering is a widely accepted text in the field

We present excerpts of that interview as our lead article in this month of mourning and remembrance, and offer our sympathy to relatives and friends as well as victims of the earthquake.

This month, Siliconeer completes a year. While celebrations have been postponed for obvious reasons, we would like to thank our readers and patrons for their wonderful support.


Main Feature

After the Gujarat Disaster:
Dealing with Earthquakes
- An Interview with Anil Chopra

The Gujarat earthquake has left terrible destruction in its wake. How does California handle earthquake destruction? Are there any lessons? Siliconeer interviewed earthquake engineering expert Anil Chopra, who teaches at the University of California at Berkeley.

Q: In simple layman’s terms, tell us what an earthquake does to a structure and what we need to do to make sure the structure is earthquake safe.

A: Well, what an earthquake does is it makes the structure vibrate laterally. That means sway in the horizontal direction, from left to right, let’s say. It causes forces in the structure that are quite different than what are the kinds of forces that are caused just by gravity loads on the structure.

Most structures cannot be economically designed to withstand these forces within the elastic range or to put it differently, without any damage.

Only very special structures like nuclear power plants are designed so conservatively that they should be undamaged during the largest possible earthquake that can be imagined, because there the consequences of any failure or damage are so catastrophic that it is unacceptable.

But in the case of ordinary buildings, most buildings are designed to possibly be damaged, but the whole concept in earthquake-resistant design is that the damage be controlled and reparable economically.

Q: Since you have been teaching earthquake engineering in California for a long while, and are very familiar with how California deals with it, tell us if there are any lessons that can be learned.

A: You see, one of the reasons for major damages in India is that although their building codes and regulations are fairly current and modern, apparently, from what I have been able to find out, they are not mandatory, they are only advisory, unlike California, where the building codes are legal requirements and have to be satisfied before a building can be built.

So this I think is one important distinction. Clearly, if the codes, no matter how good they are, if they are not mandatory, you don’t have the right results. That perhaps, is one of the significant lessons to learn.

Q: Clearly – and California presumably faces this problem – in earthquake-prone areas, you have lots of structures which predate any kinds of regulations you might have. How does California deal with it and how can India deal with it?

A: Well, the way California deals with it is that they have tried to retrofit existing buildings that are known to be sub-standard. The difficulty that exists anywhere, including California, is what kind of an incentive do you provide to individual owners of property to improve their property. You apparently cannot be forced, so the big dilemma is how to create an incentive structure that makes things happen. So it’s not an easy problem even in California.

Q: Now in terms of India, though, is it fair to say that since these programs are prohibitively expensive? I remember reading a statement made by the Bhuj mayor saying that the best way to go is just demolish everything in sight and start from the ground up.

A: Well, in Bhuj that may be true, because my impression from whatever I have read and seen, is that Bhuj is essentially demolished as a community. Very little is left standing. So I think for Bhuj it might be okay. Now anything that has collapsed or has suffered damage that is essentially irreparable from an economic point of view, you don’t have much choice except to demolish it.

Q: You have said elsewhere that in terms of academic skills and expertise India is not lacking, but your worry was how to translate that into public policy.

A: India has never lacked knowledgeable people in most of these disciplines, so I don’t think that is the issue. The issue really is public policy, the issue is enforcement of building codes, making codes mandatory. That I think is probably the key issue.

Q: Overall, though, is there anything that could be done prior to this earthquake which would have lessened the damage – how much of this is natural disaster, and how much of this is culpability of authorities or builders? This is a huge debate now in India.

A: Well, when you say there is a huge debate, what is the basis for the debate, that they think that there is fraud or what?

Q: Well some of them are saying precisely that. You know, the builders have been cheating, and some are saying – and this is somewhat plausible – that structures in Ahmedabad violated even existing codes, and the government turned a blind eye because the building lobby is very strong, that sort of thing.

A: Well, you know, this is plausible, this could be true, but I have no basis to know one way or the other. But if my impression is correct that codes are not mandatory, then I think you already are starting from a weak position. And now on top of that, if there is any kind of fraud that whatever specifications are called for in the design, if they are really not met in the construction, then you have worsened the situation even further.

Now one thing to keep in mind is that one seems to have an impression around here that Ahmedabad has been very badly damaged. It seems that this is not the case in the sense that the number of buildings that have collapsed or have been severely damaged is a very small fraction of the total building stock in Ahmedabad. Certainly, places close to the center of the earthquake like Bhuj have been close to demolished, but many, many buildings are reasonably functioning and standing in Ahmedabad.

Q: Once a big one strikes, does that mean for a certain degree of time you are safe?

A: The general belief is that when a fault breaks and a big earthquake happens, that means the energy that has accumulated in that part of the earth which led to the rupture of the fault, has now been released, and so it will take a while for that energy to build up again before a major earthquake happens.

Now in the case of Ahmedabad and in that general area, apparently the last major earthquake that happened was in 1954 of magnitude 7 – somewhat smaller than this, but still a large earthquake – and then in 1819 there was an earthquake in that area about as big or even bigger than the recent one. So the area has a history of earthquakes but obviously from the numbers that I mentioned to you – and these may be incomplete – not very frequent.

In almost no part of the world are big earthquakes very frequent, just by the very nature of things that it takes many years for enough energy to build up in the earth to cause a big earthquake.

Q: What do you think from a public policy point of view would be the prudent thing to do as of now? What can the authorities do now to ensure that in future the government and people are better prepared?

A: Well, in terms of new construction, I imagine the first step would be to make the building code mandatory. From what I understand, the building code is similar to American standards, maybe not in all their details. That would be the starting point.

As far as existing construction is concerned, that is a much more difficult problem.

Even in places like California, where there is much more earthquake awareness, every building has not been retrofitted for earthquake safety. There is a lot of talk about it, there is consciousness about it, but the amount of money necessary to make that happen is staggeringly large, and as I mentioned earlier, while the government can decide to retrofit government buildings, they don’t have an obvious way of enforcing that on private homes or private buildings. So that dilemma exists even here and I don’t think there is any simple solution, unless some sort of an incentive structure can be developed to encourage people to do it.

Q: This brings us to a very real human problem. You have people of rather limited means who have tried to build a little place for themselves, and now you have a situation where, let’s say, a structure that is damaged and it is probably risky for all one knows. Now what is one to do here?

A: It’s a serious problem. You see, in this country the practice is after an earthquake, engineers inspect the buildings that have been subjected to an earthquake and based on judgement either tag the building as green – that it is okay, it is safe to occupy – or red, that it is unsafe – or yellow, that it requires further investigation, and so on.

So it is a serious issue, no matter where, and there is no simple answer to it. For example, if there was a subsequent earthquake which is small, like an aftershock, which is typical after a major earthquake, some of the buildings which are already weakened could come down.

Q: And you are saying there are no easy answers to this.

A: No answer in the sense that the prudent answers are obvious: that they should not be occupied unless somebody has inspected them to the point to feel comfortable that they are safe. Otherwise, obviously one is taking a risk.

Q: What are your general thoughts about this earthquake, and how are you trying to find more information about it?

A: Well, several people from here have gone to India, engineers, geologists, and so on. In fact the national society for earthquake engineering in the United States, which is called the Earthquake Engineering Research Institute, that is based in Oakland, they have sent a team. This is quite typical of what they do after a major earthquake in almost any part of the world. They send a team of people not to advise anybody, but to basically document what has happened, and it is a record for the future.

A team has gone of about maybe six people from here and the team also has a similar number or slightly larger number of professors and engineers from India, and these people are collectively going to produce a report.

Structural engineers, geo-technical people, there are geologists, there are seismologists, there is a whole collection of people covering various disciplines.

In fact once they come back, they will have briefings where the team will present their findings. And that’s the kind of information I was hoping to get sooner or later.

– Anil Chopra is chair of the department
of structural engineering at the
University of California at Berkeley


Infotech India

Mobile chat rooms...Infosys in Maharashtra...Germans Open Lab...MTNL sparks cellular phone price war in DelhiHere is the latest on information technology from India
technology in India.
Mobile Chat Rooms

BPL Mobile Communications, one of Mumbai’s cellular service providers, Feb. 10 announced the launch of India’s first Wireless Internet Chat Service – miChat in Mumbai.

This service allows BPL Mobile subscribers to enter virtual chartrooms and chat with other subscribers.

Targeted at the young adults and late teens segment, this application, based on the SMS platform which enables mobile chats and ensures that the service is available to all subscribers without a change in their handsets. The technology behind this service has been provided by iSolv, a wireless applications company from Pune.

Speaking at the launch here Feb. 9 B.P. Singh, Chief Operating Officer for BPL Mobile, said: “Chatting on the Net has emerged as the most popular net application today. Estimated at 3.5 million users today, it is expected to grow at a staggering 100 percent annually.”

BPL Mobile provides a significant value addition by providing “anytime and anywhere” access to its customers through miChat, he added.

ISOLV CEO Milind Agnihotri said: “Mobile Internet is all about ‘Save Time or Kill Time’ applications. While the ‘Save Time’ applications provide productivity improvement through on-the-go access to corporate emails or databases, the ‘Kill Time’ applications provide fun and entertainment like miChat.”
|Back to Infotech Index| |TOP|

Infosys in Maharashtra

Leading software company Infosys Technologies signed a memorandum of understanding with the Maharashtra Industrial Development Corporation for establishing a software development campus at Hinjewadi, near Pune.

The MoU was signed Feb. 8 in Mumbai in the presence of Chief Minister Vilasrao Deshmukh and state Industries Minister Dr. Patangrao Kadam, by MIDC chief executive officer Jayant Kawale and Infosys president and managing director Nandan M. Nilekani.

According to the agreement, Infosys will set up the software development campus at Hinjewadi and in the first phase of the project, spread over three years, invest Rs. 600 million in facilities to seat about 1,200 software professionals.

In the second and third phases of the project, within five years from the date of the MoU, Infosys will invest another Rs. 600 million in facilities to accommodate additional 1,500 software professionals.

MIDC has agreed to provide 35 acres of land to Infosys at Pune Infotech park phase II, near Hinjewadi village, according to a company release.

Infosys already has a development center at Pune Infotech Park in Hinjewadi seating over 1,200 software professionals and is currently expanding capacity to seat over 2,800 professionals.
|Back to Infotech Index| |TOP|

Germans Open Lab

The Rs. 200-million state-of-the-art development center of Deutsche Software, a wholly-owned subsidiary of the Deutsche Bank Group, was inaugurated Feb. 9.

The new facility is a modern software development center spanning 50,000 sq. ft supported by dedicated high-speed satellite communication links to Singapore and Germany, Deutsche Software Chief Executive Officer Ashutosh Gupta told reporters in Bangalore Feb. 9.

The company had a marketing office in the United States and its professionals operate from Singapore, Frankfurt and London.

He said the company had begun offering services to others now and would focus on Asia Pacific, Europe and North America. They hope to earn five to 10 percent of their revenue from exports. Deutsche Software, which had 467 professionals, posted a turnover of Rs. 510 million for the year ended December 2000.

Inaugurating the facility, Karnataka Chief Minister S.M. Krishna said he was pleased that Deutsche Software had decided to expand its presence in the city. “This proves the continued faith that IT companies worldwide have in Karnataka’s capability to provide an environment that can be matched with the best in the world,” he said.
|Back to Infotech Index| |TOP|

MTNL Mobile

Mahanagar Telephone Nigam Limited launched its mobile phone service in the capital Feb. 7.

Dolphin, the new service that triggered a price war among private operators and a virtual crash in air-time tariffs, will be launched in Mumbai Feb. 28, Communication Minister Ram Vilas Paswan said.

The service would be activated tomorrow for the nearly 11,000 subscribers in the capital during its first phase.

“Private operators in Delhi have followed MTNL by reducing the airtime rates but still MTNL’s overall rates are the most affordable and competitive and perhaps cannot be matched,” MTNL chairman and managing director Narendra Sharma said.

MTNL’s pre-paid service will be started in March. Sharma said already 147 base stations have started functioning even as ‘network optimization continues. He said MTNL’s customers would be getting perfect quality, coverage and customer care.

Sources in MTNL said technical glitches such as call disruption and echoing had put the launch of Dolphin on hold for which further network optimization tests had to be conducted.

The first week (January 15-22) saw tremendous interest in MTNL’s cellular service with 60,649 applications being given away and 7,357 registrations taking place.

However, in the second week, following the announcement of private cellular players matching MTNL rates, consumer interest appears to have tapered off.

MTNL chairman Sharma said that MTNL was expecting a subscriber base of around 25,000 by the end of the first quarter of this financial year.

MTNL had first announced its tariff plan on January 12, 2001. With private cellular services AirTel and Essar at that time charging an average airtime of Rs. 4 per minute, MTNL’s tariffs of Rs. 2.70 per minute for outgoing and Rs. 1.50 per minute for incoming were perceived as extremely competitive.

Essar announced its rates of Rs. 2.80 for outgoing and Rs. 1.60 for incoming calls Jan. 18. AirTel followed it up the next day with Rs. 2.85 for outgoing and Rs. 1.60 for incoming calls Jan. 19. Both private operators have matched MTNL’s monthly rental of Rs. 400 “penny by penny.”

At the time of the tariff cut by MTNL, both Essar and AirTel had insisted that the consumers will not move so easily to MTNL, as the perception about their quality of service and customer care was not so high.

However, MTNL’s pricing did win over customers in the first week. The private cellular operators’ reduced tariffs on the heels of MTNL’s competitive pricing now seems to have worked.
|Back to Infotech Index| |TOP|


Keeping in Touch:
A Gift for Quake Victims and their Kin
By Urvashi Majmundar

The Gujarat earthquakes has claimed many lives, but the agony of the survivors is also immense. Then there is the worry of their relatives near and far. How do people get in touch in these troubled times? A phone company and its IT sister are offering a high-tech way for people to get in touch, and its free, reports Urvashi Majmundar.

A band of information technology professionals have come together to provide a free but vital service to survivors of the horrible earthquake and their relatives. Now thanks to a unique communication management system been set up for Gujarat Earthquake victims and their families, relatives can try to get in touch with each other. This service showcases the convergence of technologies. It is the first ever deployment of a universal messaging system platform in India – across phone lines and the Internet.

It is also a first of its kind non-conventional application of technology for the purpose of disaster communication management.

The telephony part of the service has been developed by India’s only Interactive Voice Response service provider Dialnet Communications. The service has been web-enabled by Text as well as voice messages can be dropped here. The web site will convert the text messages into voice to extend the scope of the service.

“Though phone lines lie silent in most parts of quake-hit Gujarat, we empower the citizens here to exchange voice messages over phones. We have put up a phone number 079 9372666 where the earthquake-affected people can call and record word of their condition,” says a Startec executive.

People of Gujarat can call from any working phone and messages can be recorded and heard by them. Message can be received or sent by the relatives also from anywhere in the country (and around the world) by calling any of the centers closest to them; they would have to dial:

079-9372666 to reach Ahmedabad

011-9372666 to reach Delhi

022-9372999 to reach Mumbai

033-9372666 to reach Kolkata

080-9372666 to reach Bangalore

Prefix country code “91” from outside India for any of the centers above.

The service is also available on from where voice and text messages can be recorded and retrieved.

Long distance callers incur applicable STD/ISD charges; callers within local dialing radius to these four metros pay only local call charges.

The service is offered free of cost. STD and call charges are being borne by the government telephony companies.

Advantages of this Solution:

  1. Those people whose phones are lying disconnected due to the earthquake can use it.
  2. Even people whose phones are working but they do not have STD/ISD facilities can use it.
  3. This service is available free anywhere in Gujarat from a public calling office.
  4. With one telephone call all the relatives of an affected family can be addressed and the condition conveyed.
  5. Relatives of quake-hit can proactively search for information of the affected on phone and over
  6. Anyone who had a “contact” phone number at home, work, village and in neighborhood can use this service.
  7. The phone number becomes the unique ID of the family and even larger groups of people, which helps avoid confusion of similar names in same streets.
  8. Interaction between the victims and their relatives is possible across time zones.
  9. The disseminator can record the message as and when it is possible and the recipient can receive it any time later. So while conversations don’t happen, communication does.
  10. With higher tele-density in the mostly urban earthquake affected areas, this service stands to reach out to larger sections of affected.
  11. Messages recorded on the number would also be replicated at the web site and vice-versa.

Detailed procedure for using the service:

When dialing on 9372666 the callers will encounter these prompts.

  • You have reached the Gujarat Quake Helpline.
  • For message in Gujarati dial 0, for Hindi dial 8, for English dial 9
  • You have dialed an invalid digit, please dial again.
  • If you are a quake victim- dial your STD code. If you are a relative of a victim whose information you want, then again dial his/her STD code
  • The STD code you have dialed is
  • If the STD code is right, Dial 1. To re-enter the number, dial 2.
  • If you are a victim, dial your phone number. If you are a relative of a victim whose information you want, then again dial his/her phone number
  • The phone number you have dialed is
  • If the number is correct, Dial 1. To re-enter the number Dial 2.
  • To check incoming messages Dial 1. To record a message Dial 2. To exit Dial 9
  • There are no messages yet, please try later.
  • To record a new message, Dial 0. To exit, Dial 9
  • Thank you for calling
  • Please record your message after the beep and dial 0 to indicate that the recording is over
  • Dial 1 to hear the message again. Dial 2 to move to the next message. Dial 0 to go back to the previous menu. Dial 9 to exit the service.
  • That was the last message available for you.
  • Please dial in frequently to check for new messages.
  • This service has been brought to you by Dialnet, Startec Global, and BSNL.

24-hour Gujarat Earthquake Helpline

Dial 9372666
Or log on to

When calling 079-7372666 the quake-affected must leave their STD code and personal telephone number (home/office) where relatives used to call before the quake.

Relatives of the quake-affected must also use/leave the STD code and personal telephone number of the affected where they used to call before the quake.

This non-profit service has been set up by Dialnet, and Startec.

- Urvashi Majmundar is a freelance writer
based in Tracy, Calif.



2000: A Year of Uncertainty By Ree Mitra

The year is over, and what a year it has been. The Y2K scare, presidential potboiler, it has been anything but dull. Financial analyst Ree Mitra takes stock and gives a few tips on how the financial climate may be in the new year.

All of us will be very happy if 2001 can spare us the pain, uncertainty and drama of the past year.

Two thousand was a year that began and ended in confusion. Citizens the world over were divided over whether to make contingency plans for the Y2K bug or New Year’s Eve celebration plans to welcome in 2000. The year then nearly ended with uncertainty as well, with recounts and court challenges stretching the Nov. 7 presidential election well into December without a president-elect. Thank goodness that is resolved.

Sandwiched between the Y2K threat and the historic presidential election, we also witnessed a number of other events that, when added up, took a toll on equity markets.

  • Oil prices skyrocketed. This of course translated into sticker shock for motorists at the pump, higher costs for business and an inflation threat. The failure of the Camp David Mideast peace talks and a release of oil from the U.S. strategic reserves did not help matters.

  • The NASDAQ and dot-com companies in general enjoyed a boom in the early months of the year, but then fell back to earth – hard. The technology-heavy NASDAQ index is down about 40 percent from its January 3, 2000 close, and 54 percent off its record high set on March 10. The astronomical valuations of dot-com companies, as well as some of the companies themselves, disappeared when the market freefall erased the confidence of investors and venture capitalists.

  • The Justice Department continued to assert anti-competitive practices against Microsoft. This cast doubt on the future of one of America’s most successful companies, and many believed the government’s case to be a sign that a long-time bellwether of the New Economy might eventually be dismantled.

  • The Federal Reserve hiked interest rates 100 basis points from February through May. The intent was to cool down an “overheating” economy, and instead create sustainable growth. However, by the end of the year a growing number of financial pundits were warning that these interest rate increases had taken their toll on the economy, and that a recession was a distinct possibility unless the Fed backed off.

All things considered, the year could have been much worse. There are silver linings to be found in this market: Long-term bonds, after an off year in 1999, returned about 17 percent in 2000. Value investments came into their own, with the Standard and Poor value index rising slightly while the growth index fell about 15 percent.

Time and again, the U.S. economy has shown tremendous resilience to shocks. This is no accident, as the U.S. is still well positioned to utilize what are recognized as superior technology, management and labor structures, as well as decent regulatory and legal environments and the continued growth of global trade and investment. If conditions are right in 2001, a number of factors, such as a drop in oil prices, action by the Fed to ease rates, tax cuts and the continued development and application of new technology could again have the markets poised for growth.

While it is healthy to periodically evaluate the performance of your investments in relation to changing market conditions, a diversified, long-term investment strategy has historically been the best way to help avoid the uncertainty that, from time to time, we are sure to face.

This article is not intended to provide specific advice or recommendations for any individual. Consult financial adviser, or your attorney, accountant or tax advisor with questions. Ree Mitra can be reached at

Ree Mitra is a financial planner with
LPL Financial Services. He lives in Fremont, Calif



The Key to Corporate Success
SelfCorp Finds Answers – By Prasad Kaipa

Just because your company is doing well doesn’t mean you can rest on your laurels. This is the Silicon Valley, people, where tomorrow you could wake up and find your best talent gone.
Or your business model obsolete. But the life for an entrepreneur does not have to be a series of Maalox moments, say Prasad Kaipa and Ed Haskell, who have founded a company that helps companies handle precisely these kinds of challenges.

Drug manufacturers have patents and licenses, publishing houses have backlists, but for many high tech companies, their most valuable assets stand on two feet.

Trouble is, those feet can itch to move, and the company can be left high and dry if its best human talent moves elsewhere.

Former Apple marketing executive Prasad Kaipa and former University of Utah researcher Ed Haskell have founded a company that develops tools that help to prevent just that.

Their company is SelfCorp, a web-assisted executive development and knowledge management company. Their focus is on enhancing and aligning executive and company performance.

Corporations today face many challenges, the founders say, including:

  • Retaining and motivating key talent,
  • Creating new business models that fit the current dynamic business reality,
  • Reducing cycle times to innovate new products and services, and
  • Mapping the DNA of the company to assess cultural fit and increase effectiveness of mergers and acquisitions.

After 10 years of research and consulting experience, executives at SelfCorp are creating web-assisted tools and products that help its customers manage change. SelfCorp says its customers say that it helped companies:

  • To motivate and retain key talent,
  • To reduce time to results,
  • To enable executives to think strategically and holistically,
  • To develop dynamic business (or product strategy) models, and
  • To create (and capture) new knowledge more effectively.

Two if its important products are Cartis and Polaris

SelfCorp calls Cartis its personal strategy development product It addresses the major headache that companies currently experience – talent management. A small number of employees (key talent) can contribute significant value by creating new tangible and intangible assets. These people know their value to the organization, and typically have little loyalty to their companies. A significant number of companies are not able to retain key talent, attract new executives, or motivate their key talent to innovate faster than their competition. Human capital management is a critical variable that could make or break companies.

Executives at SelfCorp have coached senior executives in five Fortune 100 companies in the past few years. For customers it has created a personal strategy framework that is interactive, simple, and effective in helping executives to bring clarity to their personal mission, identify their core competencies, and create a career/life plan that includes work and personal objectives. Their tools and services help executives become more effective by making clear decisions quickly, build capacity, and align their personal objectives with corporate objectives.

SelfCorp calls Polaris its business strategy product. High-growth companies have to be adept at business model development. The ability to conceptualize and create new business models and strategies that fit the current and ever-changing business needs are critical differentiators in the global market place. How do you prepare your best engineers, marketers, and sales directors to become effective “general managers” to think up business models and manage tens of millions of dollars of business while they are still in their 20s?

Polaris helps executives think strategically and systemically, so that they can create effective and relevant business models for changing market needs. It also helps them make effective decisions related to mergers and acquisitions and shortens time for results.

SelfCorp CEO Kaipa was the managing director of Mithya Institute of Learning & Knowledge Architecture, a research- based consulting firm. Prasad has developed algorithms that allow executives to map the genetic code of the companies, so that they can rewire their companies for competitive performance. He has developed executive and strategy development programs for Fortune 100 companies including Cisco, HP, Xerox, Sun Microsystems, BAE Systems, Quaker Oats, Boeing, Ford, Pacific Bell and Bristol-Myers-Squibb for past 10 years.

Ed Haskell was the director of a research laboratory at the University of Utah that pioneered XML-like data structures for multi-media databases for intranet/extranet delivery. He managed multi-million dollar international hardware/software projects and applied for 8 patents through University of Utah.


Indian Infotech on a Roll:
NASSCOM is Bullish - By Dewang Mehta

Indian software continues its dizzying pace of growth, and the future continues to look bright, says Dewang Mehta, the pointman for India’s information technology industry. Even the prospect of a U.S. recession does not worry the confident NASSCOM chief.

Presenting a positive outlook for the Indian software industry, the National Association of Software and Services Companies Feb. 6 said that the software exports had grown by more than 65 percent during the period October-December 2000.

Addressing a press conference in Mumbai on the eve of NASSCOM 2001, the annual software industry event, , Dewang Mehta, president of NASSCOM, said that the software industry had registered revenues of Rs. 71.6 billion as against Rs.. 43.4 billion for the corresponding period in 1999-2000.

NASSCOM has also projected that in FY 2000-01 software exports will earn $6.24 billion.

The impact of the United States economic slowdown on Indian software exports would be minimal, Mehta said, adding: “We are confident of meeting our target of $ 6.24 billion during 2000-01 and $ 9.5 billion in 2001-02.’’

NASSCOM 2001 has five components – international business conference, international exhibition, technology summit, e-summit cyber exhibition and a VC forum, Mehta said, adding that business worth over Rs. 25 billion would be generated through this event.

The event presented workshops targeting U.K., Belgium, Australia, United Arab Emirates, Canada and the U.S. to discuss issues relating to issuing of visas, work-permits and the procedure for opening branches and subsidiary offices for Indian companies.

The top IT body also announced a five point agenda that will help ensure that software exports continue to grow at more then 50 percent, Mehta said.

The agenda is:

  • Increase quality and quantity of knowledge workers: at least one IIT/IIIT in every state during Tenth Five Year Plan, increased industry funding and participation.

  • Create world-class telecom infrastructure: ensuring provision of at least 10 GBPS of international bandwidth by end of 2001 and 2.5GBPS of National Internet Backbone within the country; reduction in tariff for national connectivity and removal of procedural hassles.

  • Enhancement of physical infrastructure: building international airports and better roads to facilitate trade; daily international flights to business hubs like Bangalore, Hyderabad, Ahmedabad and Pune.

  • Tapping opportunities in communication software and original technology space: corner large share of global communications software market; position India as a developer of bleeding edge original technology; more spending on R&D in Indian software companies.

  • Continued government support: no additional incentives required but no withdrawals either; Mehta said: “During 2000-01, we expect to earn revenues of at least Rs. 4,100 crore ($900 million) from exports of communication software, representing an almost 100 per cent jump from last year.”

The telecommunications industry has emerged as one of the largest and most influential industries globally with estimated revenues of $1.3 trillion in 2002, Mehta said, adding that “we expect the communication software segment to emerge as the fastest and most profitable segment driving the growth of the Indian software industry over the next five years.”


Auto Review:

A Party Wagon to Crow About
2001 Pontiac Aztek By Al Auger

For those of us who love to live in sunny, beautiful California, the outdoors is one of the state’s foremost attractions. And whether you like biking, hiking, camping or tailgate parties, the new Pontiac Aztek is just the ticket, says our auto analyst Al Auger.

Carmakers spend a lot of time and money building, promoting and selling many of their products as statements. Pontiac has been a longtime successful practitioner of the art. With the all new Pontiac Aztek Sports Recreational Vehicle (Pontiac’s term), they have given the word-doctors a full bag of kinetic adjectives to work with. Not exactly a mini-SUV, the Aztek is more mid-size, and certainly more logical in the current herd of behemoths on the road.

The first impression is a strong party wagon. Designers have created a unique dual package of utilitarian and sociability uses. An innovative optional tray in the rear storage compartment with dividers that pop up slides out to facilitate loading up to 400 pounds of cargo or to hold food, beverages, etc.

But wait, there’s more. On the left wall is a set if audio controls for the rear facing extended-range speaker system. The drop-down bottom half rear door has two molded-in seating surfaces and cupholders. What a dandy idea for tailgate parties, picnics, a refreshing rest stop on a long journey.

Additionally, a removable cooler that fits the console is available as an option. The cooler holds 12 cans or bottles of your juice of choice.

There’s a lot more for the Pontiac people to crow about. The Aztek sports an exterior façade that is more car-like than SUV. The big-box-on-an-even-bigger-box look has been bypassed for a smooth, rolling line from the traditional Pontiac twin-grills, topped by feline headlamps all the way to the sloping rear deck. Although this develops an odd-shaped rear window, the overall greenhouse effect is large. Nail on a set of good-looking alloy wheels and you have a very handsome package.

The many flexible interior configurations are a number-cruncher’s delight. Available are two removable rear-seating systems of bucket seats, split seats, dual captain chairs and bench seats. The cargo nets in the rear can be assembled in 22 different ways consisting of two side-panel nets capable of holding up to 35 pounds each and two larger cross-vehicle nets that can restrain 200 pounds of cargo.

With all this exotica for the eye and soul, Pontiac hasn’t forgotten the nitty-gritty. The Aztek comes in just two trims, both 4-door configurations: a base model and the GT. Our test machine was the GT in front-wheel-drive; an all-wheel-drive Versatrak model is on its way to the showrooms as we speak. The GT is the full-load model, but it carries the recreational theme home with some singular options it shares with the base trim. There’s a Biking package that includes an all-weather rubber floor mats and washable seat covers, plus your choice of either an interior or exterior bike rack.

The Hiker’s package features, along with the rubber mats and washable seat covers, a custom lightweight backpack that is attached to the back of the front seats. The most interesting package must be the Camping package with a tent designed to fit the rear with the split liftgate and tailgate open and an air mattress that can be inflated using the auxiliary rear power outlet. To compliment all this outdoor frenzy, the roof rack on the GT is standard.

The interior is not your usual faux sedan with simulated wood appointments, light shaded vinyl and cloth and leather tweaks here and there. The Aztek is rugged looking and ergonomically equipped with handles, cargo stashes, cupholders, etc., everywhere. The highback seats are firm and supportive, the dash littered with big knobs and bright graphics. The jury considering the camouflage seat inserts is still out. The optional 190-watt upgrade sound system with dual playback, equalizer and in-dash CD player is excellent, both in sound and clarity.

Pontiac has been filling our roads with an array of superior handling machines for some years now including their best selling Grand Am and Grand Prix siblings. The Aztek continues the trend of wide track with a stable and responsive handling expertise, particularly considering its SUV genre. The suspension is firm yet not harsh, the road connection is delineated sharply through the steering wheel and seat. Speaking of playing scrabble-ese with the many innovative features of the Aztek, the quietude from road and engine noise is almost palpable. The reason, say the Pontiac people is a hydroformed steel front cradle that concentrates strength and stiffness in the proper places.

Other performance, safety and handling touches include 4-wheel anti-lock brakes, all-speed traction control, daytime running lights, front side airbags and 16-inch tires. The 3.4-liter 3400 SFI V6 engine is General Motors’ trench soldier and nearly bulletproof. It kicks out 185 horsepower and 210 lb.-ft. of torque smoothly translated to the front wheels through the 4-speed automatic transmission with adaptive calibration logic. With winter at hand I can’t wait to get my hands on the Versatrak all-drive model; the new Pontiac Aztek is a neat machine.

The 2001 Pontiac Aztek 4-door SRV is an able and unique new member of the growing herd of mid-size sport utility vehicles. The marketing gurus are going to have fun with this one, just as the owners will.

Today's Test Drive:

Al Auger, our automotive editor has been writing about cars for over 30 years.
He has spent 20 years as a race driver and public relations specialist.


Bollywood: | Guftugu | Hindi Film Review |


Hero No. 1

Poor Aamir Khan is devastated by the recent earthquake in Gujarat, and for good reason. You see, his maiden production Lagaan was shot almost entirely in the Gujarat town of Bhuj. Now we all know that Bhuj, being near the epicenter of the 7.7 earthquake has been virtually demolished.

For Aamir it’s hard to accept the fact that that the historic fort in which they shot for over six months has been reduced to rubble. And the villagers who had warmly welcomed his team are now destitute.

Well our Aamir is not just a hero in reel life. He has decided to adopt the town and will do what he can to help the townspeople cope.

Shabaash, hero no. 1.
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In Trouble

Nandita Das is in trouble. Well it’s not her acting, but what she has acted in. She has portrayed a Rajasthani woman who is raped by high-caste men for trying to promote family planning.

While even her old buddy from Deepa Mehta’s Fire, Shabana Azmi, thinks she has done a terrific job, the curmudgeonly folks at the Censor Board will have none of that.

They feel the rape scene is too explicit, and will ruin the morals of our pristine Bollywood movie goers.

Come again?

Well that’s the way the feel, and director Jagmohan Mundhra is fighting the censors tooth and nail to protect the film from any cuts.

Good luck, Jag Mundhra. Heaven knows you will really need it.
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Birthday Boy

So what if it was a long, long day? Okay, maybe it is not supposed to be that way when it’s your birthday, but for Bobby Deol there were compensations. He spent all of Jan. 27, his birthday, working really hard. During the day he was busy shooting for Ajnabee with Bipasha Basu and Kareena Kapoor.

Then, surprise surprise! He comes back home and finds it full of guests. Wife Tanya called the shots here, so the birthday boy just relaxed until he had to cut the cake. Even there the dutiful Tanya was ready to offer a helping hand.
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South Saves

She’s gorgeous, has a figure worth dying for, and yet has been hovering in the sidelines in Bollywood. Well, things are beginning to look up for Sonali Bendre, and the good news comes from the South. She has just finished a Telugu film and is becoming quite a star there.

She launched actor Kunal in Dil Hi Dil Mein, which is a dubbed version of Kadhal Desam. Now she is all set to launch Vyjyanthimala’s son Pravin Bali. Apparently her Bollywood sizzle is adding zing to this upcoming male stars, and they appreciate it.

Ah, success and then new kids on the block to play with, isn’t it just icing on the cake?
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Peace Not War

We know of the Cola wars – Pepsi and Coke are at each other’s throats all over the world. Whoever thought they would manage to drag Bollywood into it?

Well, the story of Pepsi doing an ad with Shah Rukh Khan which apparently parodied Hrithik raised the hackles of the Roshan clan, but heartthrob Hrithik says things are quite hunky dory between him and the big Khan.

The two have been recently shooting together for Kabhi Khushi Kabhi Gham, and Hrithik says things are just great with them.

“I had a problem with the Pepsi guys, not Shah Rukh,” says Hrithik. “So we are cool. I have known him since Koyla and I know what a true gentleman he is.”
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Quake Support

When Bollywood goes to town, what you get is a traffic jam. That’s exactly what happened when the likes of Jackie Shroff, Govinda and Pooja Batra took to the streets to help political parties raise money for those hurt by the Gujarat earthquake.

But Bollywood has never been one to stay at home in time of crisis. Whether it was during the earthquake in Latur, Maharashtra, or a cyclone a few years ago, Bollywood has always come up with dollops of compassion and moolah.

So what if there is a traffic jam or two? It’s all in a real good cause.
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Second Honeymoon?

Bollywood Lothario Akshay Kumar and Twinkle Khanna, will soon be going for another honeymoon. This one is the real thing, folks, because the previous one was only after engagement.

The two got married Jan 17, in a private and secret ceremony in Juhu, Mumbai. Only close friends and immediate family members attended,

This is what the new bride has to say about it all: “We earlier planned to get married on February 5, but since my dad wasn’t going to be in town on that day we decided to advance the event. Now that it’s over I’m feeling extremely happy and contented. It feels strange calling him my husband. Otherwise I feel no different from how I felt yesterday. But Akshay says he is feeling like a completely different man.”

A day after the wedding, though, it was business as usual. Akki went to shoot for a movie while Twinkle went to Bangalore to attend the Femina Miss India 2001 contest. Hey, Bollywood or no Bollywood, we are talking about working people here.

Rs. 1 Million Each

Bollywood heartthrob Hrithik Roshan has a heart big enough as his fame, it seems.

The soft-spoken star and his dad have gone ahead and donated a million rupees each to Maharashtra Chief Minister Vilasrao Deshmukh as part of earthquake relief to Gujarat.

This is the first in an attempt from Bollywood to help provide relief for Gujarat’s earthquake victims. Although most stars had committed to performing in charity shows, a show organized in Delhi Feb. 3 had to be cancelled. The show, organized by the Prime Minister’s Relief Fund, is now scheduled for Feb. 23.

Meanwhile, Jackie Shroff and Govinda both have agreed to do a charity show in Mumbai for earthquake relief.
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On Again, Off Again

Real life is just as unpredictable as the reel stuff in Bollywood, it would seem. Take the torrid romance of Salman Khan and Aishwarya Rai. Just a couple of weeks ago, Salman made a friendly appearance in Aishwarya’s Dhai Akshar Prem Ke In return, Ash was planning to do a guest appearance in her beau’s much delayed film, which also stars Madhuri and Shah Rukh Khan. We’ve also been hearing stories about how one visits the other on the sets in the middle of shoots. The last heard was how Ash kept disappearing to her hotel room while shooting for Hum Panchhi Ek Dal Ke in Hyderabad.

It seemed surprising to everyone till it was found out that Salman was staying in the same hotel. The two were engrossed with each other to the extent of forgetting that one of them was there to shoot.

Now comes the latest news that Ash has gotten wind of Salman’s flings and unfaithfulness to her and has called off her relationship with the incurable flirt.

Go figure.
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Hindi Film Review
Stranger than Fiction


Director: Shyam Benegal
Music: A.R. Rahman
Starring: Karisma Kapoor, Manoj Bajpai, Rekha, Amrish Puri and Shakti Kapoor

Talk about fact being stranger than fiction. Shyam Benegal’s gingerly foray into commercial Bollywood terrain is this sumptuous period film, but what wraps this film in a haunting aura of mystery is its connection to reality.

For starters, the film is widely believed to be a true autobiographical story of one of India’s best known film journalists, Khalid Mohammed.

It centers around the tempestuous life of his mother Zubeidaa, who once acted in Alam Ara – directed by the patriarch of Bollywood’s first family, Prithviraj Kapoor, History has come full circle with Prithviraj’s granddaughter Karisma now playing Zubeidaa – and this talented actress shows her stuff indeed in the film.

Zubeidaa was born in a Muslim family in the earlier part of the 20th century. His father, a film producer, nevertheless strongly objects to his daughter’s interest in a career in films. The fact that he happens to have a mistress does not appear to stop his pontificating.

But Zubeidaa has little patience for the many restrictions of conservative society. No matter, in the spirit of the times, she is married off to her father’s best friend’s son, and the same father then insists on a divorce even as Zubeidaa is giving birth to her son.

Let us allow reality to digress here for a brief moment. This son, if rumor is to be believed, was Khalid Mohammed. The film is actually two stories wrapped in one. It is presented as a son’s search for an answer to a poignant question: Why did his mother leave him?

This storytelling device is used with great skill by Benegal, who goes back and forth into Zubeidaa’s life – and uses the flashbacks to make telling points about how cruel time can be – A flamboyant dance director (Shakti Kapoor) is today a pathetic slumdweller; gone are the days of glamor and beauty for Rose, who is now an old haggard alcoholic sought after only by her cats.

Zubeidaa’s story does not end happily, either. A fresh divorcee with a son, she is not ready to give up on life so soon. She runs into Victor, a young dashing Rajput prince who is a passionate aviator. The two fall in love, despite the fact that Victor is married. Victor ignores convention and marries Zubeidaa, but there is a catch. While Zubeidaa can and does move into the Royal household, her son from her previous marriage is not so welcome.

So Zubeidaa pays the price, leaving a permanent scar on the young child’s psyche.

Unfortunately, things don’t work out so well for her, because Zubeidaa, it seems, has exchanged a new life of restrictions for the old one. The Royal household is just as steeped in conservative convention, and it is Mandakini, Victor’s first wife, who shows her the steps.

Things come to a head when independence comes and Victor, losing his kingdom, runs for election. It appears that he considers it politic to stick to Mandakini in his campaigning effort, to the bitter disappointment of Zubeidaa. Then it all ends abruptly in a mishap that is not entirely free of dark rumors that even question whether it was a mishap at all.

Benegal’s finest achievement in the film is in creating the period ambience. The sets, costumes and ambiance of a bygone era are so faithfully evoked that the film is a delight to watch. Rekha is impressive in her nuanced portrayal of an ambiguous woman whose affection for Zubeidaa is understandably soured by her jealousy. Shakti Kapoor is good in his cameo, and Amrish Puri is adequate playing the tyrant father. Manoj Bajpai, however, is miscast as a Rajput prince. His old mannerisms continue to dog his performances – it’s time he learned that what goes for a crook surely does not befit the role of a Rajput prince.

The film belongs to Karisma Kapoor. This young slip of a girl packs enormous punch – and she pulls all the stops in this film. Masterfully presenting a blend of vivacious, spontaneous, devil-may-care youth with moments of deep, pensive reflection, Karisma breathes life into Zubeidaa.

Benegal brings his refined art-film sensibility which enriches this film, but unfortunately appears unlikely that the typical Bollywood buff has much patience for anything other than escapist fare, if the poor box office returns are an indication. A.R. Rahman’s music, though oozing talent, is sometimes anachronisitic, given the film’s period ambiance.

Nevertheless, a film definitely worth seeing.

Rating: **** (Superior)

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Tamil Film Review:
Sunder’s Valentine Special


Director: Sunder C.
Starring: Prabhu Deva, Anjala Zaveri, Deepa Venkat, Vivek, Damu, Mayilsamy and Kartik.

He started his career rather promisingly, but then he got mired in a series of meaningless and mediocre films. But with this film, director Sunder C. re-establishes his credentials. While it does have the director’s favorite subject of impersonation weaved in with a love triangle, it is a sensitively crafted film, with the scenes flowing smoothly, and remains a clean wholesome family entertainer.

Anbu (Prabhu Deva) a mimic and dubbing artist for films, falls in love with the wealthy Jyoti (Anjala), a close friend of his sister Bharati (Deepa). He decides to express his love, but finds that Jyoti already has a man in her life:

the foreign-returned, wealthy suave Gautham (Kartik) who showers her with flowers takes Anbu to heart. In the few scenes that he appears, Kartik has a magnetic presence that is engrossing.

Gautham dies in a car accident in which Jyoti, too, loses her eyesight. On advice from the doctor she is not informed of Gautham’s death. Anbu mimics Gautham’s voice, neglects his professional life, takes care of her and makes her believe that Gautham is still alive. Shades of films like Unnidathil Ennai Koduthen and Thullatha Manamum Thullum appear here. Jyoti regains her eyesight, learns the truth, and also of the sacrifices Anbu had made for her sake.

It is glamour and chic costumes for Anjala. Deepa Venkat brings all her experience from the small screen to her role. Prabhu Deva has some dance numbers here too, but what stays in memory is the soft, sensitive portrayal of the selfless lover. Kartik Raja has tuned some soulful tunes.

Ullam Kollai Poguthe is Sunder’s Valentine Special.

In association with Chennai Online



A Zesty Accompaniment
Cocktail Paneer
By Seema Gupta

Let’s say it’s a weekend evening and as the rain and chill winds blow outside, you are sitting cozily with a few friends, maybe chatting over a beer. Seema Gupta offers a delicious recipe for a savory accompaniment that can add zest to your evening.


  • 2 lbs paneer
  • 1/2 cup flour (maida)
  • Amchur to taste
  • 1 tablespoon chopped coriander leaves
  • 1/2 lb peas
  • Oil as required
  • Chillies and salt to taste
  • Garam masala


Cut the paneer into 1_ inch-sized cubes. Carefully scoop out the inside of each cube in such a way so that the base and the sides are intact.

For the filling

Roughly grind the peas. Then heat a little oil and lightly fry the ground peas with amchur, finely ground chillies, coriander leaves, salt to taste and garam masala.

Cook till done, then allow the peas to cool.

Now fill the hollow paneer cubes with this mixture. Level the sides.

Make a thin batter with flour, adding a pinch of salt. Dip the stuffed paneer in it and fry over a slow fire till golden brown. Serve hot with chilli sauce or ketchup.

Seema Gupta is a homemaker
based in Sunnyvale, Calif.


February - March Horoscope

ARIES (March 21 to April 20): A young person may try to stop your promotion but will fail to do so. Expenses will go down and you may win a legal battle but financial gains may not come. A child will do extremely well in an important exam.

TAURUS (April 21 to May 20): A person may seek your help, but you should protect your interest before you help others. Health will improve with new medications. You will make quick money through stocks or may win a very good contract. A short trip also indicated. You might have an argument with your spouse.

GEMINI (May 21 to June 20): Opponents will accept failure and competition subside. A long distance trip is likely to take shape. You will do some religious work. Children will do well in school. You will work hard to finish pending work and get ready for a major project.

CANCER (June 21 to July 22): Spouse may panic and motivate you to do something about career. All you need is a little effort. You will pay more attention towards your child. Financially you will be comfortable for now but some big bills are on their way.

LEO (July 23 to August 22): Most of your plans will work out without a hitch. Your gamble will pay off and you may make quick money through stocks. You will gain popularity in the social circle and will be invited for a big event. Some of you may finalize on a big business deal.

VIRGO (August 23 to September 22): You will meet an interesting person who could change your life. You will also reach new heighs in career. People creating problems earlier will concede. Handle all tools with care to avoid hurting your arms.

LIBRA (September 23 to October 22): A great opportunity from a distant town is about to knock your doors. Business will need further investment and you need to monitor your bank balance for some time. Some of you may plan on moving to a dry and warm area. You will be dealing with some legal issues on a top priority.

SCORPIO (October 23 to November 22): People with prior history of blood pressure should be careful as Mars in your sign can aggravate the problem. You will be travelling for business. You will also hear some very good news from overseas.

SAGITTARIUS (November 23 to December 22): You will come across an excellent career opportunity. You will be offered a big contract. You will handle a major hurdle diplomatically and resolve the issues, which could have hurt your image. You will travel to meet a close friend.

CAPRICORN (December 22 to January 19): Do not take tax matters lightly and be careful with the law. You will be nervous with the change taking place in career. The end result will be good. You will plan a pleasure trip. You will visit a religious place.

AQUARIUS (January 20 to February 18): You will do well in all financial matters. Socially you will be in demand and people from overseas may need your help. This may not be the right time to make any changes in career on your own. Some of you may take off from work for health reasons.

PISCES (February 19 to March 20): You may not find the right solution because you do not want others to be unhappy. You may have some arguments with an older person. Some of you will be looking for a nice place to move, but efforts will not be successful. Cash flow looks good.

Bay Area-based astrologer Pandit Parashar can
be reached by email at:


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