Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Three habits of highly ineffective employees

OK, this one may hurt.

Think you have what it takes to dig a career hole for yourself and then stay there? If not, here are three tips that are sure to get you the kind of attention nobody really wants.

Miss deadlines: If each person in a company operated in an independent vacuum, a missed deadline might not be such a big deal. But, as you well know, almost every action of every employee has some kind of effect, either direct or indirect, on the performance of another employee. Let’s say Person A–that would be you–has four days to complete the first part of a project; Person B has four days to complete the second part; and Person C has been given three days before the ultimate out-the-door deadline.

Since you’re not that hung up on specifics like deadlines, you take an extra day to get your portion of the project done. Person B has now missed an opening window of time for getting his portion launched so he, in turn, borrows another day from the master schedule. Now poor old Person C finds himself at the end of the project, and his deadline is one day away. As in DEADLINE. Not Ailing Gray Area. Person C probably has to work late and miss his daughter’s soccer game where, as it turns out, she scores the winning goal. And it’s all your fault.

Complain too much: OK, look, most people like to complain. They do it more often out of frustration if they feel like it’s not feasible for them to take any real action — but that’s not letting you off the hook. Like it or not, your job is to make things happen for the company you work for. If you can find fault with everything that entails (everything legal, that is), your input will lose its value. Constant complainers have no credibility.

Of course, you complain because you think you know better than those who make the decisions. Maybe you do and maybe you don’t. Either way, you don’t want to get a reputation as the person who will point out all the bad aspects of every suggestion and have to be dragged kicking and screaming into every new endeavor. It’s exhausting for everyone you work with. Ultimately, no one will think of you as a discerning employee as much as they will think of you as a pain in the butt.

Be the company doormat: This is the Complainer’s polar opposite, but it’s just as toxic. Are you the guy who helps everyone? The one everyone knows they can dump work on because you’re so nice and capable? And if everyone likes you, they respect you, right? Wrong. Your manager probably interprets this helping tendency as an inability on your part to set boundaries. And, believe me, no one is going to foist any make-a-name projects on you–only the penny ante stuff they don’t want to do.

The ability to set boundaries is something you need to have if you want to move up in the company. And if you take nothing else away from this blog, know this: Those co-workers lining up to pawn work off on you will not set your boundaries for you.

Although your intentions are good, your desire to help everyone may result in your workload being too much to handle, which could make you a deadline-misser (see my first point), and you don’t want that. Another result is that, with things piled on as they are, you will do no one project really well.

In brief, finish on time, develop a streak of optimism, and learn to say no.

Friday, December 26, 2008

Why you must insure your wedding

"The latest entrant into the insurance family is wedding insurance," I told my brother Prabhat who is getting married this year. His immediate response was: "What's the need of such an insurance cover?" But before i could answer, his next question was, "What is the premium and what is the term insured?"

Wedding insurance is for providing cover to protect you against any untoward incident on or before the wedding.

Whatever may be your financial status, weddings in India attract huge expenditure, what with it being a once-in-a-lifetime event. After some research, I knew wedding insurance is not that big in India as awareness is still quite low. Moreover, people shudder to even think of an unforeseen, unfortunate event happening around their own or their child's wedding.

Mostly, it is a case of: Let's not think about it; and nothing will happen. But considering the huge amounts at stake in such a short duration, it is advisable to protect yourself from any such incident.

In a nutshell, wedding insurance safeguards you financially against unforeseen events that could postpone or cancel the wedding.

A conversation with the relationship manager of Bajaj Allianz revealed that they have recently launched a wedding insurance package.

He said, "In case the wedding gets postponed or cancelled, there is a certain risk of monetary loss. Our package covers the specific risks related to weddings. But yes there are not many takers for the same till now; moreover the policy is not being marketed aggressively as well."

Normally the wedding insurance policy covers wedding cancellation / postponement due to fire or any natural disaster, accident of the bride / groom, accident of blood relations for a seven-day period (three days prior to the wedding date, the wedding date, and three days after the wedding date), damage to property including the venue, burglary, and even cases of food poisoning at the function.

Typical wedding insurance covers range from Rs 2 lakh to Rs 8 lakh and their indicative premiums range from Rs 3,770 to Rs 14,276.

What wedding insurance broadly covers?
Right from brides or grooms coming late to burglary of valuables, everything is covered. The biggest risk covered is non-availability of groom or bride owing to stranded transport or law and order problems. Any damage to building and contents due to fire or allied perils is also considered a ground for claims. Accidental death in family or that of close family friend is also covered.

Legal liability and third party damages are recognised as risks. There is cover against food poisoning too, which comes under public liability clause. In case wedding ornaments are lost, the policy stands.

Money kept in safes at the wedding residence also comes under insurance policy. It extends to the day after the nuptials. Burglary of valuables is covered for one day after the marriage, as it is assumed that people stay back the night after wedding.

What wedding insurance doesn't cover?

The insurance policy cannot be claimed if dispute arises between two families. There are a whole lot of exclusions, which prevent a wedding insurance claim from being accepted. A marriage under duress, criminal acts, misconduct, misrepresentation, willful negligence, insolvency and influence of drugs or alcohol are sufficient to exclude a policy.

Nuclear perils, radioactivity, war and war-like perils also come under exclusions. The fine print has to be read because damage to electricity through short-circuits or self-heating deprives you of policy benefits.

The wedding insurance policy does not cover 'cold feet', that is, when the bride and / or the groom change their mind at the wedding venue.

Also nothing can be done if bride and groom decide to run away! Nevertheless, you should find the wedding insurance bug catching on... There is just too much expense and value involved for that not to happen.

चिडिया और सफ़ेद गुलाब

आओ सुनो एक कहानी

एक चिडिया को एक सफ़ेद गुलाब से प्यार हो गया , उसने गुलाब को प्रपोस किया ,
गुलाब ने जवाब दिया की जिस दिन मै लाल हो जाऊंगा उस दिन मै तुमसे प्यार करूँगा ,
जवाब सुनके चिडिया गुलाब के आस पास काँटों में लोटने लगी और उसके खून से गुलाब लाल हो गया,
ये देखके गुलाब ने भी उससे कहा की वो उससे प्यार करता है पर तब तक चिडिया मर चुकी थी

इसीलिए कहा गया है की सच्चे प्यार का कभी भी इम्तहान नहीं लेना चाहिए,
क्यूंकि सच्चा प्यार कभी इम्तहान का मोहताज नहीं होता है ,
ये वो फलसफा; है जो आँखों से बया होता है ,

ये जरूरी नहीं की तुम जिसे प्यार करो वो तुम्हे प्यार दे ,
बल्कि जरूरी ये है की जो तुम्हे प्यार करे तुम उसे जी भर कर प्यार दो,
फिर देखो ये दुनिया जन्नत सी लगेगी
प्यार खुदा की ही बन्दगी है ,खुदा भी प्यार करने वालो के साथ रहता है

खूबसूरती क्या है?

मैने खुदा से पूछा कि खूबसूरती क्या है?
तो वो बोले ::::
खूबसूरत है वो लब जिन पर दूसरों के लिए एक दुआ है
खूबसूरत है वो मुस्कान जो दूसरों की खुशी देख कर खिल जाए
खूबसूरत है वो दिल जो किसी के दुख मे शामिल हो जाए और किसी के प्यार के रंग मे रंग जाए
खूबसूरत है वो जज़बात जो दूसरो की भावनाओं को समझे
खूबसूरत है वो एहसास जिस मे प्यार की मिठास हो
खूबसूरत है वो बातें जिनमे शामिल हों दोस्ती और प्यार की किस्से कहानियाँ
खूबसूरत है वो आँखे जिनमे कितने खूबसूरत ख्वाब समा जाएँ
खूबसूरत है वो आसूँ जो किसी के ग़म मे बह जाएँ
खूबसूरत है वो हाथ जो किसी के लिए मुश्किल के वक्त सहारा बन जाए
खूबसूरत है वो कदम जो अमन और शान्ति का रास्ता तय कर जाएँ
खूबसूरत है वो सोच जिस मे पूरी दुनिया की भलाई का ख्याल

D se dosti,
D se dushmani,
D se dil,
D se dard,
D se dillagi,
D se deewangi,
D se itna bhi door na ho jana ke
H se Hamara saath hi chhut jaye.

Sawaal paani ka nahin, pyaas ka hai.
Sawaal maut ka nahin, saans ka hai.
Dost to duniya mein bahut hai magar,
Sawaal dosti ka nahin VISHWAS ka hai..


मैत्री हा असा एक धागा,
जो रक्ताची नातीच काय
पण परक्यालाही खेचून आणतो
आपल्याही मनाला जवळचा करून ठेवतो
आपल्या सुख-दु:खात तो स्वत:ला सामावून घेतो.

मैत्री करण्यासाठी नसावं
लागतं श्रीमंत आणि सुंदर
त्याच्यासाठी असावा लागतो
फ़क्त मैत्रीचा आदर

काहीजण मैत्री कशी करतात?
उबेसाठी शेकोटी पेटवतात अन
जणू शेकोटीची कसोटी पहातात.
स्वार्थासाठी मैत्री करतात अन
कामाच्या वेळेस फ़क्त आपलं म्हणतात.
शेकोटीत अन मैत्रीत फ़रक काय?
दोन्हीपण एकच जाणवतात.

मैत्री करणारे खूप भेटतील
परंतू निभावणारे कमी असतील
मग सांगा, खरे मित्र कसे असतील?

कधी भांडणाची साथ, कधी मैत्रीचा हात
कधी प्रेमाची बात, अशी असते निस्वार्थ मैत्रीची जात

या मैत्रीचा खरा अर्थ केव्हा कळतो?
नेत्रकडा ओलावल्या अन शब्द ओठांवरच अडखळला
मित्र या शब्दाचा अर्थ तो दूर गेल्यावर कळला....

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Plenty at stake as top three sides go in to battle

As well as looking to wrap up the series 2-0, India will look to regain the No. 2 spot in the ICC Test rankings with a win in the second Test against England in Mohali starting Friday. Having briefly secured the second spot with a 2-0 win against Australia in the Border-Gavaskar Trophy in October-November, they were toppled by South Africa who beat Bangladesh 2-0 in the two-Test series at home, towards the end of last month.

The three points gained will put India above South Africa, who will then have to ensure a series win against Australia, the No. 1 team, in their contest starting Wednesday in Perth, to hold on to second spot. However, South Africa have the chance to go top if they whitewash Australia 3-0.

Australia have held on to the top spot despite the defeat in India, followed swiftly by a 2-0 series win in the Trans-Tasman Trophy at home to New Zealand. They are currently 13 points clear of South Africa, and 14 of India.

A 3-0 series win at home against South Africa will give them four points and stretch the gap ahead of no. 2 to 21 points. Any series win, in fact, will strengthen their position.

The Australia-South Africa series holds a number of incentives for the players as well. The South African pace duo of Dale Steyn (No. 2) and Makhaya Ntini (No. 4) will look to improve their positions among the top five Test bowlers, given that Australia's Stuart Clark (No. 3) has been ruled out of the first Test. Jacques Kallis will also look to widen the gap between him and Daniel Vettori at No. 2 in the Test allrounder rankings.

Michael Hussey, currently No. 4 in the Test batsmen rankings, will also look to move up the charts, and narrow the gap at the top. But he will hope that both, West Indies' Shivnarine Chanderpaul (No. 1) and Sri Lanka's Kumar Sangakkara (No. 2) falter this December, in the series away to New Zealand and Bangladesh respectively

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Your 6 transactions that the taxman tracks

When Priyanka Jhamanani (name changed) bought her friends' flight tickets for over Rs 125,000, the last thing on her mind was a notice from the income tax department.

Six months later, she was summoned by the IT department to explain the expenditure. Also, the notice asked her to meet an official and explain her source of funds.

"To catch tax evaders and prevent money laundering, the IT department has made a list of high value transaction. Notices are sent to consumers to explain these expenses, said K H Viswanathan, executive director, RSM Astute Consulting, a tax consultancy firm.

Experts explained that normally, the IT department sends notices to only those people whose yearly credit card transactions cross Rs 200,000.

But other than credit card companies, the Reserve Bank of India, banks, mutual funds and companies issuing shares and debentures need to file a report stating high-value transactions. This is done in form of an annual information report. Some even report the details every quarter.

Some of the yearly high-value transactions tracked by the IT authorities include:

1) Property purchase worth Rs 30 lakh (Rs 3 million) or more;

2) Deposits of over Rs 10 lakh (Rs 1 million)in a savings account;

3) Purchase of bonds of over Rs 5 lakh (Rs 500,000);

4) Investment in mutual funds of over Rs 2 lakh; (Rs 200,000);

5) Purchase of shares worth Rs 1 lakh (Rs 100,000) in a single company and;

6) Purchase of consumer durables like plasma television or expensive cars.

When faced with such a situation, you need to have all the documentation ready. "When IT called for an explanation, the person who has made such a transaction should carry all the documents supporting the source of funds. He also needs to carry his IT filings for the last financial year," said Kanu Doshi, a tax expert.

For instance, if the IT department calls to inquire on the purchase of a flat of over Rs 30 lakh, carry bank statement and documents that shows the loan amount.

"Make payments as much as possible through cheques or debit cards for large transactions and from an account that is your salary account. This will help to explain the source of money easily," explained Viswanathan. Further, if you have borrowed any money from a friend or relative for these purchases, take the loan in cheque. That would help clear any doubts.

To be on the safe side, mention all the high-value materials purchased while filing returns. This should include jewellery, expenditure on children's marriage, and others.

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Sanskrit – a source of knowledge and wisdom or a dying heritage?

Sanskrit, like Latin or Greek is the world’s one of the oldest and few classical languages. In present times, it is written in the Devnagri script and its grammar was set out in 500 BC. It is listed as one of India’s 23 official languages. The total number of people who speak Sanskrit does not exceed 50,000, whereas it is also a second language to less than 2 lakh people. In whatever limited numbers, besides India, it is also spoken in Sri Lanka, Nepal, Bangladesh, and some other areas of South and Southeast Asia. Like in the earlier mentioned counties, many Buddhist scholars in China, Japan, Thailand and Vietnam also speak and use Sanskrit. This is supported by the fact that all scriptures of Hindus, Jains and Budhists are written and recorded in Sanskrit. Books of Puranas, with Bhagavad Gita as one of them, are one of the most interesting collection of stories about the Hindu gods and goddesses written in Sanskrit. The fact that Vedas, India’s two most talked about epics, Mahabarat and Ramayan, the works of Kalidas, etc were all written in Sanskrit shows that Hindu philosophy and traditions revolve around Sanskrit based writings. Sanskrit was a vehicle of creativity and development. The work done in Sanskrit is huge - Vedas laid the foundation of Vedic literature and all Sanskrit literature thereafter. Classical Sanskrit literature contains rich poetry, is found in Indian Classical Music and literature, as well as scientific, (Indian plants and animal species, Indian astronomy and ancient Indian sciences), technical, philosophical and religious texts. Sanskrit has been extensively used in religion and philosophy, in grammar, phonetics, etymology and lexicography. Astronomy, astrology, sociology, arts and aesthetics, politics and sex are well explained in Sanskrit language. Sanskrit, one of the oldest languages is considered as the “mother of all languages”, as many languages of world have either evolved out of it or have been greatly influenced by it. At the same time, Sanskrit language, it is believed belongs to the Indo-European, Indo-Aryan language group, as there are too many words in European languages that are similar phonetically and in meaning to those in Sanskrit. Sanskrit is related to Asian and South East Asian culture and philosophy, as Latin and Greek to European. Sanskrit originated from the same source as Latin, Greek and Persian, what we now refer as the Indo European languages. Sanskrit language has a wonderful structure - more perfect than the Greek, more abundant than the Latin, and more elegantly refined than either. It bears such a stronger resemblance to both - verb roots as well as forms of grammar, that it possibly could not be an accident that these evolved from some common source. Unfortunately, this link no longer exists. Though, there are people who suggest that Sanskrit evolved from either Dravidian group of languages or an earlier version of Sanskrit spoken in the sub-continent. But, some of the most widely used words common among these languages suggest that they all came from the same source. Evolution of different words in each language and possible connection with similar words in other comparable languages provides irrefutable evidence of their common origin. Sanskrit today has practically turned in to a ceremonial language, mainly used in Hindu hymns (mantras) and Bhudhists and Jain scriptures, but unfortunately, not brought in day-to-day use.

Monday, December 15, 2008

Fresh grads: Focus on job content, not salary

How the young working professionals and fresh graduates can prepare themselves for the current global economic situation.

The current job scenario

Earlier, there was a bit if arrogance in the fresh graduates because not one or two but three companies chased them. So, there was no seriousness about joining or staying in a company. Some of these graduates were very choosy because there were many jobs available. So, they took jobs for granted.

Attrition was high as they were hopping companies for small amounts. Those times are over.

What kind of jobs to take
I would suggest two things. My suggestion to them now is, choose a company that wants you and not the company you want. And, stay there. This is no time to jump around and experiment.

If you have a stable start in the beginning of your career, even if it is for a lower salary, it is okay. You should forego the idea that you would not work in Tier 2 cities, and that you would not work in lesser known companies.

You should look for job content that can add value to your experience. Only those who are doing well in the company will be kept in troubled times. Those who are not adding value will be under threat.

So, you choose a company where you can learn and contribute. When you are contributing, you are under less threat.

What companies look for during times of economic slowdown

When companies become very choosy during times like this, a fresh graduate has to be either from a good college or has to have good grades or good knowledge. When the chips are down, companies look for people who add value.

So, freshers should make sure that they learn to manage their own expectations. They should not lose heart. In some of the campuses, I see young people thinking their world has ended if they don't get a job. Don't get depressed.

Higher studies as an option

It is a risky proposition to go for a Masters just because you didn't get a job. If you want to add value to your qualifications, go for higher education.

Salary cuts

During the dotcom bust, many used to say, we will stay here even for a smaller salary. Maintaining a job became more important than asking for a raise. Once again, we see those times.

The next two quarters are very crucial. If the global economy continues to remain sluggish, it will be disastrous.

Banks cut home loan rates

Public sector banks on Monday announced that home loans up to Rs 5 lakh (Rs 500,000) would be given at a maximum interest rate of 8.5 per cent, while those between Rs 5 lakh and Rs 20 lakh (Rs 500,000 and Rs 2 million) would be offered at 9.25 per cent.

Besides, the banks would not charge any processing fees and pre-payment charges for loans up to Rs 20 lakh, and would also provide free insurance cover, the Indian Banks Association said.

The package looks at reviving the demand in the housing industry.
# Interest rates not to exceed 8.5% for loans up to Rs 5 lakh
# Interest rates for loans between Rs 5 lakh and 20 lakh to be 9.25%.
# No processing fee or pre-payment charges, free insurance cover for loans up to Rs 20 lakh.
# PSU banks announce one percentage point cut in loans for micro, small and medium enterprises (MSMEs).

However, it is not yet clear if the existing home loan borrowers will benefit from the special home loan schemes unveiled by state-owned banks on Monday.

Outlining the new housing loan package in accordance with the stimulus package announced by the government on December 7, State Bank of India chairman O P Bhatt said the interest rate under the two schemes could come down, but would not go up beyond the threshold limit of 8.5 and 9.25 per cent for a five-year period.

The offering under the packages would be made till June 30, next year, Bhatt said, adding that after the lock-in period of five years the borrowers could look in for free or floating rates that could change in accordance with market conditions.

To make the package attractive, the public sector banks would give the loans at a margin of 10 per cent up to Rs 5 lakh and 15 per cent for loans between Rs 5 lakh and Rs 20 lakh, and in either case, banks would offer free insurance cover, Bhatt said.

Leading private lenders, including ICICI Bank and HDFC, appeared favourably inclined to cut their rates, with sources saying the two lenders would study the PSU banks' package before taking a call.

Sources said any decision would be taken after ascertaining whether PSU banks are getting any government subsidy for implementing the package.

The banks have also decided to cut the lending rates for the micro and medium enterprises by 100 basis points.

DDA awaits go-ahead for draw of lots

Many people who have applied for a flat in the DDA housing are interested to know when the draw will be carried out. This blog will continue to provide updates on this subject.

Draw of DDA Housing Scheme 2008 is on 16th Dec 2008

Here is a news item published in Hindustan times.

The Delhi Development Authority (DDA) is all set to conduct the draw of lots to its Housing Scheme 2008, launched on August 6 this year. All it awaits is a green signal from the State Election Commission (SEC). The SEC put in place a code when elections to the Rajinder Nagar seat were countermanded following the death of Bhartiya Janata Party legislature candidate P.C. Yogi. The code, in force till December 16, after the counting for the seat is over, disallows the DDA to draw lots before this date. “We have written to the SEC that since the Housing Scheme was launched before the code of conduct came into force on October 14, we should be allowed to conduct the draw of lots. A few lakh people have put in money in the Scheme and delaying the lottery is tantamount to harassing them,” said a DDA official on condition of anonymity. According to DDA’s official schedule, the agency had planned to hold the draw of lot for the flats before December 15.“We have completed all modalities like scrutinizing the application forms and will conduct the lottery as soon as we get the go-ahead from the election office.” said a senior official. Of the 12.64 lakh application forms, which were downloaded and sold, 5.60 lakh forms had been submitted in different banks authorized by the DDA by the time the scheme closed on September 16. The competition is going to be tough as there will be about 100 applicants for each of the 5010 flats, located in various Delhi localities.


Monday, December 8, 2008

Work a Miracle in a needy Child's LIFE

What is Child Sponsorship? ..it's all about giving a needy child the hope of a better future! Your gift of Rs.600/- every month provides a needy child with access to education, health and nutrition. Because of you, a needy child and the family can look forward to a future of dignity and hope!

Your support can make a world of difference!

Click Here to sponsor and help

Friday, December 5, 2008

Five things your manager could be doing better

don’t know your manager personally. He or she may be perfectly wonderful. And I’m not indicting all managers as being somehow deficient in their jobs. But chances are, all managers could use some strengthening in certain areas. Here are some ways most managers could improve:

1. Dealing with personnel problems sooner rather than later. Nothing demoralizes employees more than working with a co-worker who is a problem that no one will deal with, either because doing so would be “uncomfortable,” or the happiness of the team is just not a big priority to the manager. Basically, it ends up with the sub-par employee holding everyone emotionally hostage.

Although it’s never pleasant to deliver criticism, the burden should never outweigh the need. If someone is a personnel problem, he or she has to be responsible for the consequences. I’m not suggesting anything that would involve weaponry or a stockade. I’m not even saying that criticism should be blunt and loud, by any means; it can be finessed. But a manager should never be apologetic for having to criticize the work performance of a team member. If Employee A exhibits behaviors that negatively impact the rest of the staff, then Employee A needs to be made aware that it won’t be tolerated.

If not, what’s the message to the rest of the team? I can show up late, push my work off on others, be intimidating, be toxic, and watch YouTube videos all day at work. Who’s going to say anything?

2. Giving more positive feedback. Many managers operate from the assumption that their employees will know they’re doing OK as long as they aren’t reprimanded for something. This is not a productive way to operate. There are ways for staffers to infer that they’re doing a good job, but why should they have to do that? Many people don’t look at things from a “no news is good news” standpoint. You’d be surprised at how motivating it is for an employee to find out his or her performance is noticed for good reasons.

Good managers notice good performance — and they don’t just wait until performance review time rolls around to express their appreciation.

3. Leading more, managing less. Management establishes the framework for work, while leadership provides the inspiration for it. Successful IT managers learn to be both a good manager and leader, depending on the needs of the team and the situations they are addressing. How does one lead? First, communicate more. Although “meetings” have become four-letter words in most organizations, they really are essential in communicating the vision of the company and explaining how employees can work to make that vision come true.

Second, IT managers need to work harder toward establishing their group’s reputation in the company. This involves creating constructive partnerships with people in business management and other departments. Good IT managers act as their team’s PR agent.

4. Be an advocate for the team. Sometimes in an attempt to make the company vision happen and look good in the process, the overzealous manager will take on more and more work that he then promptly passes on to the team. The problem with this is that the team comes to feel that their manager is not an advocate for them, and that he hasn’t even bothered to see what’s already on their plate before he piles more on. Employees soon start to feel like it’s not so much what they’re doing for the company, but more about what they’re doing for their manager’s career. Good managers know their team’s bandwidth, and they learn to say no on their team’s behalf.

5. Be open to feedback. Strong managers don’t just pretend to be open to feedback — they listen to new ideas and discuss their pros and cons with the person who presents them. Good managers aren’t threatened by employees who have better ideas than they do. Good managers are also able to admit they’re wrong. They know that doing this is not the same as admitting they’re incompetent

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

Clearing Your Inbox

Today I helped a colleague clear their inbox. I've kept a zero mail inbox for a few years. I forgot this wasn't common practice until a colleague said to me, "wow, your inbox doesn't scroll."

I didn't learn the zen of the zero mail inbox over night. As pathetic as this sounds, I've actually compared email practices over the years with several people to find some of the best practices that work over time. The last thing I wanted to do was waste time in email, if there were better ways. Some of my early managers also instilled in me that to be effective, I needed to master the basics. Put it another way, don't let administration get in the way of results.

Key Steps for a Clear Inbox

My overall approach is to turn actions into next steps, and keep stuff I've seen, out of the way of my incoming mail. Here's the key steps:

1. Filter out everything that's not directly to you. To do so, create an inbox rule to remove everything that's not directly To or CC you. As an exception, I do let my immediate team aliases fall through.
2. Create a folder for everything that's read. I have a folder to move everything I read and act on. This is how I make way for incoming.
3. Create a list for your actions. Having a separate list means you can list the actions in the sequence that makes sense for you, versus let the sequence in your inbox drive you.

Part of the key is acting on mail versus shuffling it. For a given mail, if I can act on it immediately, I do. If now's not the time, I add it to my list of actions. If it will take a bit of time, then I drag it to my calendar and schedule the time.


I think it's important to note the anti-patterns:

1. Using your inbox as a large collection of action and semi-action items with varying priorities
2. Using your inbox as a pool of interspersed action and reference items
3. Adopting complicated mail and task management systems

Monday, December 1, 2008

26 things to do to strengthen internal security

This incorporates some of the points coming to my mind, but is by no means a totally comprehensive list. I have deliberately not touched upon the Pakistan dimension. I would like to wait for some more details before commenting on the action that needs to be taken.

Point 1: Set up a national commission of professionals with no political agenda, in consultation with the Leader of the Opposition, to inquire into all the major terrorist strikes that have taken place in Indian territory outside Jammu & Kashmir since November 2007, and task it to submit its report within four months, with no extensions given. Its charter will be not the investigation of the criminal cases arising from these terrorist strikes, but the investigation of the deficiencies and sins of commission and omission in our counter-terrorism agencies at the Centre and in the states, which made these strikes possible.

Point 2: Induct proved experts in terrorism and counter-terrorism from the Intelligence Bureau, the state police and the Army into the R&AW at senior levels. Presently, the R&AW does not have any such expertise at senior levels. Of the four officers at the top of the pyramid, two are generalists, one is an expert in Pakistan (political) and the other in China (political).

Point 3
: A similar induction from the state police and the Army would be necessary in the case of IB too. Since I have no personal knowledge of the officers at the top of its pyramid, I am not in a position to be specific.

Point 4: Make the IB the nodal point for all liaison with foreign intelligence and security agencies in respect of terrorism, instead of the R&AW. Give the IB direct access to all foreign internal intelligence and security agencies, instead of having to go through the R&AW.

Point 5: Have a common database on terrorism shared by the IB and the R&AW directly accessible by authorised officers of the two bodies through a secure password.

Point 6: Make the multi-disciplinary centre of the IB function as it was meant to function when it was created -- as a centre for the continuous identification of gaps and deficiencies in the available intelligence and for removing them and for effective follow-up action.

Point 7
: Revive the covert action capability of the R&AW and strengthen it. Its charter should make it clear that it will operate only in foreign territory and not in Indian territory. Give it specific, time-bound tasks. All covert actions should be cleared and co-ordinated by the R&AW. Other agencies should not be allowed to indulge in covert actions.

Point 8: The National Security Guards was created as a special intervention force to deal with terrorist situations such as hijacking and hostage-taking. Stop using it for VIP security purposes. Station one battalion each of the NSG in Mumbai, Kolkata, Chennai and Bengaluru. Ensure that its regional deployment does not affect its in-service training. Review the rapid response capability of the NSG in the light of the Mumbai experience and remove loopholes. In handling the Kandahar hijacking of 1999 and the Mumbai terrorist strikes, the delay in the response by the NSG would appear to have been due to a delay in getting an aircraft for moving the NSG personnel to Mumbai from Delhi.

Point 9
:Give the police in Delhi, Mumbai, Kolkata, Chennai and Bengaluru a special intervention capability to supplement that of the NSG.

Point 10: After the series of hijackings by the Khalistani terrorists in the early 1980s, Indira Gandhi had approved a proposal for training Indians in dealing with hostage situations and hostage negotiation techniques by foreign intelligence agencies, which have acknowledged expertise in these fields. The training slots offered by the foreign agencies have been largely monopolised by the IB and R&AW. The utilisation of these training slots and the selection of officers for the training should be decided by the NSA -- with one-third of the slots going to central agencies, one-third to the NSG and one-third to the state police. It is important to build up a core of terrorism and counter-terrorism expertise in all metro towns.

Point 11
: The IB's multi-disciplinary centre should have a constantly updated database of all serving and retired officers at the Centre and in the states who had undergone overseas training, and also of all serving and retired officers and non-governmental figures who have expertise in terrorism and counter-terrorism so that their expertise could be tapped, when needed.

Point 12: Strengthen the role of the police stations in counter-terrorism in all major cities. Make it clear to all station house officers that their record in preventing acts of terrorism, in contributing to the investigation and prosecution of terrorism-related cases and in consequence management after a terrorist strike will be an important factor in assessing their suitability for further promotion. Revive and strengthen the beat system, revive and intensify the local inquiries for suspicious activities in all railway stations, bus termini, airports, hotels, inns and other places and improve police-community relations.

An important observation of the UK's security and intelligence committee of the prime minister, which enquired into the London [Images] blasts of July 2005, was that no counter-terrorism strategy will succeed unless it is based on the co-operation of the community from which the terrorists have arisen. The UK now has what they call a community-based counter-terrorism strategy. The willingness of different communities to co-operate will largely depend on the relations of the police officers at different levels with the leaders and prominent members of the communities.

Point 13: Adopt the British practice of having counter-terrorism security advisers in police stations. Post them in all urban police stations. Their job will be to constantly train the PS staff in the performance of their counter-terrorism duties, to improve relations with the communities and to closely interact with owners of public places such as hotels, restaurants, shopping malls etc and voluntarily advise them on the security precautions to be taken to prevent terrorist strikes on soft targets and to mitigate the consequences if strikes do take place despite the best efforts of the police to prevent them.

Point 14: Stop using the National Security Council Secretariat as a dumping ground for retired officers, who are favoured by the government. The NSCS cannot be effective in its role of national security management if it is not looked upon with respect by the serving officers. The serving officers look upon the retired officers of the NSCS as living in the past and in a make-believe world of their own totally cut off from the ground realities of today in national security management. The NSCS should be manned only by serving officers of acknowledged capability for thinking and action.

Point 15: Strengthen the role of the National Security Advisory Board as a government-sponsored think tank of non-governmental experts in security matters to assist the NSCA and the NSA. Give it specific terms of reference instead of letting it free lance as it often does. It should be discouraged from undertaking esoteric studies.

Point 16: Set up a separate Joint Intelligence Committee to deal with internal security. Assessment of intelligence having a bearing on internal security requires different expertise and different analytical tools than assessment of intelligence having a bearing on external security. In 1983, Indira Gandhi, then prime minister, bifurcated the JIC and created a separate JIC for internal security. Rajiv Gandhi reversed her decision. Her decision was wise and needs to be revived.

Point 17: Set up a national counter-terrorism centre under the national security adviser to ensure joint operational action in all terrorism-related matters. It can be patterned after a similar institution set up in the US under director, national intelligence after 9/11. The national commission set up by the US Congress to enquire into the 9/11 terrorist strikes had expressed the view that better co-ordination among the various agencies will not be enough and that what was required was a joint action command similar to the joint chiefs of staff in the armed forces. Its tasks should be to monitor intelligence collection by various agencies, avoid duplication of efforts and resources, integrate the intelligence flowing from different agencies and foreign agencies, analyse and assess the integrated intelligence and monitor follow-up action by the police, the Federal Bureau of Investigation and other concerned agencies.

Every agency is equally and jointly involved and responsible for the entire counter-terrorism process starting from collection to action on the intelligence collected. If such a system had existed, post-Mumbai complaints such as those of the Intelligence Bureau and R&AW that the advisories issued by them on the possibility of a sea-borne attack by the Lashkar e Tayiba on Mumbai were not acted upon by the Mumbai police would not have arisen because the IB and the R&AW would have been as responsible for follow-up action as the Mumbai police.

Point 18
: The practice of the privileged direct access to the prime minister by the chiefs of the IB and R&AW, which came into force under Jawaharlal Nehru and Indira Gandhi, should be vigorously enforced. This privileged direct access is utilised by the intelligence chiefs to bring their concerns over national security and over inaction by the agencies responsible for follow-up on their reports to the personal notice of the prime minister and seek his intervention. If the intelligence chiefs had brought to the notice of the prime minister the alleged inaction of the Mumbai police on their reports, he might have intervened and issued the required political directive to the chief minister of Maharashtra.

Point 19: Either create a separate ministry of internal security or strengthen the role of the existing department of internal security in the ministry of home affairs and make it responsible for dealing with internal security operationally under the over-all supervision of the home minister.

Point 20
:Either create a separate federal terrorism investigation agency or empower the Central Bureau of Investigation to investigate all cases involving terrorism of a pan-Indian dimension. It need not take up cases where terrorism is confined to a single state or a small region such as terrorism in Jammu & Kashmir or the Al Umma in Tamil Nadu. It should be able to take up the cases for investigation without the need for prior permission from the governments of the states affected. It should not have any responsibility for investigating crimes other than terrorism. If its charter is expanded to cover other crimes too, there will be political opposition.

There is a lot of confusion about this concept of a federal terrorism investigation agency. Many critics ask when the IB is there, what is the need for another central agency. The IB is an intelligence collection agency and not an investigation agency. The IB has no locus standi in the Indian criminal laws. It collects intelligence and not evidence usable in a court of law. It cannot arrest and interrogate a suspect or search premises or perform other tasks of a similar nature, which can be performed only by police officers of the rank of station house officers. The IB officers are not recognised as equivalent to SHOs.

Point 21: Set up a taskforce consisting of three senior and distinguished directors-general of police and ask it to come up with a list of recommendations for strengthening the powers of the police in respect of prevention, investigation and prosecution of terrorism-related offences and the capabilities of the police in counter-terrorism and implement its recommendations. This is the only way of getting round the present political deadlock over the revival of the Prevention of Terrorism Act.

Point 22
: Expedite the erection of the border fence on the border with Bangladesh without worrying about opposition from Bangladesh.

Point 23: Start a crash programme for the identification of illegal immigrants from Bangladesh and for deporting them. Ban the employment of immigrants from Bangladesh anywhere in Indian territory.

Point 24: Strict immigration control is an important part of counter-terrorism The post -9/11 safety of the US is partly due to the tightening up of immigration procedures and their strict enforcement. Among the best practices adopted by the US and emulated by others are: photographing and finger-printing of all foreigners on arrival, closer questioning of Pakistanis and persons of Pakistani origin etc. We have not yet adopted any of these practices. Hotels and other places of residence should be banned from giving rooms to persons without a departure card and without a valid immigration stamp in their passports. They should be required to take xerox copies of the first page and the page containing the immigration stamp of the passports of all foreigners and also the departure card stapled to the passport and send them to their local police station every morning.

All immigration relaxations introduced in the case of Pakistani and Bangladeshi nationals and persons of Pakistani and Bangladeshi origin should be cancelled with immediate effect. The requirement of police reporting by them should be rigorously enforced. It should be made obligatory for all persons hosting Pakistanis and Bangladeshis to report to the local police about their guests. A vigorous drive should be undertaken for tracing all Pakistanis and Bangladeshis overstaying in India after the expiry of their visas and for expelling them.

Point 25: The MEA's capability for terrorism-related diplomacy should be strengthened by creating a separate division for this purpose. It should continuously brief all foreign governments about the role of Pakistan and Bangladesh in supporting terrorism in Indian territory and press for action against them.

Point 26
: The Mumbai strikes have revealed serious gaps in our maritime security on our Western coast. This is partly the result of our over-focus on the Look East policy and the neglect of the Look West dimension. This was corrected earlier this year. Despite this, there are apparently major gaps and an alleged failure by the naval and Coast Guard authorities to act on the reports of IB and R&AW about likely sea �borne threats from the LeT. The identification and removal of the gaps need immediate attention. The Mumbai offshore oil installations and the nuclear and space establishments on the Western coast are also vulnerable to sea-borne terrorist strikes.

Is baar nahin

Is baar nahin

Is baar jab woh choti si bachchi mere paas apni kharonch le kar aayegi
Main usey phoo phoo kar nahin behlaoonga
Panapney doonga uski tees ko
Is baar nahin

Is baar jab main chehron par dard likha dekhoonga
Nahin gaoonga geet peeda bhula dene wale
Dard ko risney doonga,utarney doonga andar gehrey
Is baar nahin

Is baar main na marham lagaoonga
Na hi uthaoonga rui ke phahey
Aur na hi kahoonga ki tum aankein band karlo,gardan udhar kar lo main dawa lagata hoon
Dekhney doonga sabko hum sabko khuley nangey ghaav
Is baar nahin

Is baar jab uljhaney dekhoonga,chatpatahat dekhoonga
Nahin daudoonga uljhee door lapetney
Uljhaney doonga jab tak ulajh sake
Is baar nahin

Is baar karm ka hawala de kar nahin uthaoonga auzaar
Nahin karoonga phir se ek nayee shuruaat
Nahin banoonga misaal ek karmyogi ki
Nahin aaney doonga zindagi ko aasani se patri par
Utarney doonga usey keechad main,tedhey medhey raston pe
Nahin sookhney doonga deewaron par laga khoon
Halka nahin padney doonga uska rang
Is baar nahin banney doonga usey itna laachaar
Ki paan ki peek aur khoon ka fark hi khatm ho jaye
Is baar nahin

Is baar ghawon ko dekhna hai
Gaur se
Thoda lambe wakt tak
Kuch faisley
Aur uskey baad hausley
Kahin toh shuruat karni hi hogi
Is baar yahi tay kiya hai

... Prasoon Joshi

Mumbai is still a safe city, say expat CEOs

Expatriate CEOs, many of whom have made Mumbai their first homes, may be unnerved by the three-day terror strike in Mumbai, but none of them feel Mumbai or other parts of India have become unsafe to live and work in.

"This is a dreadful attack but not unprecedented. In Bali, for instance, only foreigners were targeted. There have been major terrorist attacks in many cities of the world -- Madrid, London, New York," said Alan Rosling, executive director, Tata Sons, adding, "By world standards, Mumbai is a very safe city to travel around, even late at night and for women."

Many expat CEOs Business Standard spoke to echoed these views. "I have always felt safe in Mumbai. Unfortunately, today we live in world where these events happen everywhere. Terror has become a part of our life," said Wolfgang Prock-Shauer, CEO, Jet Airways, who has been living in India for three years.

KR Kim, vice-chairman and MD of consumer electronics firm Videocon Group, who lives in Delhi and Mumbai with his wife, said India is a big country with leaky borders and incidents, small or big, could happen.

"Politically, India is a stable country. In Thailand, there have been 19 coups. I have stayed in many countries, including in Latin America," he pointed out.

"It was brutal attack but just because of this we cannot say Mumbai or India is becoming dangerous," he added.

"In daily life, we don't feel insecure. These kinds of events are exceptional," said Kim, a former CEO of LG India who made the Korean brand a household name in India.

Not everyone feels as secure. Gary Bennett, the Indian CEO of insurance major Max New York Life, has spent nearly 1,000 nights between the Taj Mahal Hotel and Oberoi-Trident.

But he shudders at the thought of bringing his family to Mumbai. "I have been an expat for 14 years, stayed across Asia. Mumbai is part of my life� but I will think twice before bringing my wife and daughter to Mumbai," said Bennet.

Friends and family have been calling up, some asking them to come back. "Of course, mothers, wives and children will be concerned. But this can happen in London or New York; you need to take sensible precautions," said Rosling.

"Mumbai is incredibly resilient; the local community will get on with life. We appreciate this 'can-do' attitude," he said.

Friday, November 28, 2008

ATS chief, 2 other top police officers killed

Three top Mumbai police officers, including two from the Anti-Terrorism Squad, were killed in Wednesday night's terror attack on the financial capital, top police sources confirmed.

ATS chief Hemant Karkare -- who was investigating the Malegaon blast case, Additional Commissioner Ashok Kamte and noted encounter specialist Vijay Salaskar and were killed in an incident outside Mumbai's Cama hospital, ATS sub-inspector Sudhir Dalvi, who was part of the operation led by the deceased, told rediff.com over phone.

"Our chief Karkare, my senior officer Salaskar and Adnl Commissioner of police Kamte died while engaging terrorists outside the Cama hospital. All of a sudden terrorists threw grenades at Karkare leading to chaos.

"We are unable to confirm whether they were fell to terrorist fire or were killed by a grenade attack,

Is this Indian Mujahideen's revenge on the ATS?

Even as the police force and the Intelligence Bureau verify the Deccan Mujahideen's claims of orchestrating the Mumbai terror attacks, they are not ruling out the involvement of the Indian Mujahideen , an offshoot of the Students Islamic Movement of India.

The IB points out that the e-mail sent by the Indian Mujahideen in September had made revealed their animosity towards Mumbai and the Anti Terrorist Squad.

Following the terror attacks in Bangalore, Ahmedabad and New Delhi, there was a major crackdown on IM cadres across India and the Mumbai ATS was responsible for most such arrests.

'Terrorists may have come by boat'

The IM, in an email sent out in September, had warned the ATS against harassing Muslims in Mumbai and said that it was closely watching every move made by the squad.

In the email, the IM stated, "You ( the ATS) should know that your acts are not at all unnoticed; we are keeping an eye on you and just waiting for the right time to execute bloodshed. We are aware of your recent raids at Ansarnagar, Mograpada in Andheri and the harassment and trouble you created for the Muslims."

Latest: Over 100 hostages still trapped in Taj

"You threatened to murder them and you even misbehaved with the Muslim women and children," the email alleged.
"If your arrogance has reached this degree and if you think that you can scare us by your stunts, then let the IM warn the people of Mumbai that the ATS will be responsible for the deadly attacks on Mumbaikars in the future."

The Intelligence Bureau believes that the IM wanted to play it safe and hence has adopted a pseudo name of Deccan Mujahideen for this particular operation.

ATS chief, 2 other top police officers killed

Through this operation, the IM is trying to prove its mettle and sending out a message to the intelligence agencies that there is little that can be done to stop them.

Friday, November 21, 2008

Is there a better way to be handed a pink slip

It’s never a good thing to be let go from a job. But, believe it or not, some ways are better than others.
I know what you’re probably thinking: What a ridiculous question. There is no gentle way to hand out a pink slip. There is no way to be told that “your services are no longer needed” but “here is the number to our local unemployment office” and/or “an explanation of why we won’t be offering severance packages this round” that doesn’t sting. Want to do it better? Don’t do it at all.

But, it is hard to argue that there aren’t better and worse ways to break bad news. Countless layoff horror stories abound- from IMs to being informed by security that you are just a “visitor” now and disabled network connections-suggesting that even the so-called smartest companies could use a little tutorial in how to break bad news with respect and tact.

1. Don’t spread layoffs over multiple rounds: Rounds of layoffs is a “horrible idea”, says Calcanis, because it creates massive fear and uncertainty inside of your organization.
2. Lay people off in a group, not individually: Calcanis found that telling people one-by-one was not more humane.
3. Don’t sugarcoat the rationale: Be 100 percent honest and upfront about why you chose to keep some people and not others.
4. Cutting jobs is better than cutting salaries: Rather than angering everyone in the organization by hurting all of their bottom lines, cut a few salaries altogether and leave the people you want to keep as happy as possible.
5. Give severance even if you don’t have to, and freelancer work, where you can: Be as generous as you can be, said Calcanis, and don’t forget these people when you start hiring again.
6. Lay people off at the end of the day: No need to keep people around until the end of the day or week. When they’re done, let them leave.
7. Get over it and get back to work: The reality is, everyone else needs to get back to work.

How about you? If you’ve ever been laid off, how do you think it could have been handled better?

Thursday, November 6, 2008

Always factor in the pre payment charges before transferring your home loan to alternate banks

After Diwali one can see the dip in Home loan rates as most of the commercial banks plan to cut down on home loan interest rates. Punjab National Bank (PNB) and Union Bank of India (UBI) have already slashed rates up to 50 basis points. UBI has cut rates by 50 basis points for loans up to Rs 30 lakh . But this reduction in rates may not hold good for all the types of loans. However the private loan providers like HDFC and ICICI prefer to wait and then make their move.
These rate cuts are due to a shift in the policy of RBI and the Government. After two years of credit tightening and the recent liquidity situation, there is a complete U turn in the credit policy of the government. In Home loans where one has opted for floating rate of interest , one gets the benefit of reduced rates even if the rate he has borrowed is different and vice versa.
But in last few years if there are cuts in Home loan rates they are usually given first to new borrowers and then to the existing customers. Banks pass on the reduced rates to the existing users after some time. With the fall in property prices and discounts by various property developers the customer is going to be the King again
In case of Personal loans, Car Loans the trend is still on the opposite way as the liquidity crunch and higher defaults in above segments prevent Banks to lower rates. Personal loans disbursals in the entire country are on the way down. A large number of private Banks have either stop sourcing Personal loans or have downsized there business. Car Loans is also going through the same phase.
From the government side,the efforts are now on to make sure Credit is available to the general public.The finance ministry sources said the government is in constant touch with commercial banks to ensure an easy liquidity for priority sector loans. "The government and the central bank have taken a series of measures to infuse liquidity into the system and there is no reason that the banks should be wary of providing credit to genuine borrowers even after that," an official said.
So, keep a close watch, and choose your best deal!!

Monday, November 3, 2008

How to be a happy employee

Let's look at what might make an employee unhappy.

* Unfair rewards and recognition
* Office politics
* Un-cooperative team
* Unreasonable boss
* Insufficient compensation
* Constant threat to job security
* Lack of responsibility in the current job
* No clear career path
* Seating location
* Lack of basic facilities at workplace

And the list goes on and on. Some of these things may not really propel an employee to quit, but it might lead to negative energy which leads to low productivity. When an employee is under-productive he or she will be the first target when companies look for opportunities to give pink slips.

Being happy is always in your hands. A happy employee is more productive and gives more than an unhappy employee. So let's look at some ways to up the happiness factor.

1. Plan your week on Sunday night
Look at your work calendar and plan your week on Sunday night or Monday morning. This would include important meetings, deliverables, a brief summary of things that are pending from last week and any tasks to be achieved during the week. Though this might look like a time management tip, at the end of the week, on Friday night when you re-visit what you have achieved over the last five days, the satisfaction is immense.

2. Undertake activities that you are passionate about even though it might not be in your job profile
Start an initiative that you would love to do irrespective of whether it is required for you to do or not.

* Send a daily newsletter to your team on the topics that most of them will be interested.
* Do a presentation on the topic that you are passionate about.
* Organise a small sports event for your team.
* Call everyone in your team for a team coffee, breakfast or lunch break
* Appreciate colleagues in your team or in a cross-functional team who did a great job
* Write a poem on your team's achievements
* Arrange a potluck lunch

3. Do not indulge in the blame game
If something goes wrong do not blame others blindly. If you commit a mistake, do not hesitate to accept it. As Gauthama Buddha said, there are three things we can't hide for long: the sun, earth and the truth. Accepting your mistake gracefully will only make you look like a true professional and also give you the satisfaction of not cheating.

4. Communicate more often in person
Utilise all the opportunities where you can speak to an individual in person rather than e-mail or phone. But be aware of the other person's time and availability. Listening to a positive answer from a person will give you more happiness than if it is done over the phone or via e-mail.

5. Know what is happening at your workplace
Will this make a person happy? Truly, yes! Imagine a cricket team that doesn't know how many runs to score to win a match? More than losing the game, the player will never be interested or motivated to play well.

Attend all meetings that are addressed by the CEO to your immediate manager to know what is going to happen around you. It could be the company's growth plan or your department's next big project. Jack Welch mentions in his book Winning "every employee, not just the senior people, should know how a company is doing."

You will also get an extra edge if you are in a position to answer queries raised by your peers or juniors. This is not just for the good reasons, but bad reasons as well. You do not want to be the last employee to know if your company is laying off employees (in the worst case, if you are the one who is on that list).

6. Participate in organisation-level activities
This could be as simple as spending one weekend for a corporate social responsibility activity or attending a recruitment drive to help your HR team or arranging a technical/sports event at the organisational level. Most of these events will be successful as people do come on their own to contribute.

7. Have a hobby that keeps you busy and happy
Many people say their hobby is watching TV or listening to music or reading the newspaper. These aren't hobbies, they are just ways of passing the time. Some hobbies are evergreen and will keep you evergreen as well: dancing, painting, writing short stories, poems, blogs and sharing your experiences.

8. Take up a sport
While choosing a sport make sure that there is physical activity. There is the danger of becoming addicted to sports where there is less physical activity (like computer games, chess, cards etc). Physical activity keeps a person healthy and happy. If you pick up one sport well, you can represent your organisation in corporate sports event too.

9. Keep yourself away from office politics
Politics, as a practice, whatever its profession, has always been the systematic organization of hatreds. -- Henry Brooks Adams

Politics is everywhere and the office is no exception. Playing politics might be beneficial but only for the short term. So the best thing to do is play fair.

10. Wish and smile
More often than not, there are fair chances that the other person will smile back. This could be your security guard at the gate, your receptionist, your office boy, your CEO or your manager -- never forget to wish them and smile.

11. Volunteer for some activity

"The value of a man resides in what he gives and not in what he is capable of receiving." � Albert Einstein

Do at least one activity without expecting anything in return. There is no set frequency for this. This could be once in a day or once in a week or thrice in a week. It could be as simple as making tea at the office for your colleague, helping a colleague who is working in another department by using your skills, dropping your colleague at his door step in your car, going to your manager or colleague to ask if there is any help you can extend, contributing to technical or knowledge management communities in your organisation etc.

Monday, October 20, 2008

Employees, not hackers, cause most corporate data loss

Majority of corporate data loss comes from risky employee actions and systemic failures at the corporate level when it comes to implementing comprehensive IT security policies. Now, a new study from Compuware reports new information that supports Trend Micro's conclusions from back in July. The unsung heroes in the IT department, it turns out, may be doing a better job stopping outside hackers than they get credit for.

According to a new study (PDF, info required) from Compuware, IT departments should take a bow—only 1 percent of corporate data losses this past year were due to hackers. Unfortunately, the good news mostly ends there. Negligent employees are far and away the largest cause of data breaches, but IT managers also listed outsourcing and malicious employees (possibly ex-employees as well, one assumes) as two significant reasons why data breaches often occur.

Compuware reports that of the 1,112 IT practitioners it surveyed, 79 percent reported that their organization had experienced at least one data breach. That's an extraordinarily high number, but there are several intervening variables that may have inflated it.

* Compuware does not completely define the term "data breach." It provides an indication of what it means by describing a data breach as "the loss or theft of information about individuals such as consumer data, customer information, employee records, and so forth." That definition is more than adequate for a general discussion or description, but fails to address certain meaningful nuances.
* Compuware does not filter its results by magnitude; a breach that affected two million people is treated equally to one that impacted just two.
* Compuware does not filter by severity; this is where the subtle nuances of definition I mentioned earlier come into play. We know that a data breach involves the loss or theft of consumer data or employee records, for example, but no information on what, precisely, was stolen or exposed. If I'm a customer of JC Penney, and someone steals the list of customers who bought there over the past 24 months, I'm unhappy. If that list contained my home phone number and address, I'm concerned. If, on the other hand, that list contained my phone number, address, Social Security number, and credit card information, I'm downright worried, and may wish to take immediate action.

I raise these variables because the "gotcha!" of this particular story—79 percent of companies reporting data breaches—has, in my view, been somewhat distorted in the reporting. Compuware's figures may be perfectly accurate, but I'd be careful when drawing any conclusions from them—not every data breach is of TJ Maxx proportions.

In general, Compuware's study seems well-grounded and covers a number of interesting topics. Asked where their efforts are typically focused post-breach, a large group—41 percent of those surveyed—indicated that they participate in investigating, categorizing, and verifying the particulars of the incident. 18 percent of respondents indicate they were involved in remediation activities, 16 percent were tasked with training and educating staff or personnel, 11 percent conducted a root-cause analysis, and 10 percent established an incident response team.

I'm not sure what to make of that last, since incident response teams are emergency groups trained to respond when an emergency occurs. The fact that so many respondents were involved in specifically establishing one implies that 10 percent of the organizations surveyed didn't have them to begin with. Note the relatively low number of IT employees who were asked to spend time training fellow workers, as this will be important later.

Next up, we've got what I personally consider to be the most interesting information in the report, for all that it's largely gone unreported by the press. Having ascertained the roles IT personnel are most likely to play in the event of a data breach, Compuware asked them how confident they are in their own organization's ability to respond to such an event.

The majority of IT workers surveyed are clearly less-than confident in their employer's ability to monitor and detect information theft, even though they themselves almost certainly play a role in such efforts; 56 percent of respondents labeled themselves either "Somewhat confident" or "Not confident." As for the "Unsure" category, it's hard to imagine that the security professionals who opted for this category are secretly "Very Confident" or "Confident." As for why the breaches themselves occur, there's one category that stands out in particular:

Asked to name the leading causes of data breaches, IT staff couldn't run for the negligence category fast enough. Combine this with the fact that most workers don't trust their company to monitor the occurrence of data theft and the fact that relatively few IT staffers are tasked with employee training post-breach, the entire corporate security model begins to sway suspiciously.

The majority of IT professionals surveyed don't believe their employers can adequately monitor company resources for data breaches or prevent these breaches from occurring. Who's causing the breaches? Negligent employees. Given these two facts, one would expect to see the number of IT staff involved in employee training to skyrocket post-breach, as the company attempts to plug the hole, but again, evidence suggests this isn't happening; the majority of IT staffers are involved in fixing the technical aspects of the problem, with relatively few addressing the root cause of the issue.

This obviously makes some sense, given that the IT department wasn't hired to teach Security 101, but it may also indicate that company management hasn't grasped the true root of the problem. It's easy to bring in a consultant for some remedial security training, but without the explicit involvement of the IT department, such training will inevitably focus more on general bad practices and less on the specific situations that may have exposed customer data in this particular case. There's nothing in Compuware's report, meanwhile, that suggests this loop is changing, or that IT workers today feel more confident in their company's ability to deal with a data breach than employees did five years ago.

The report ultimately suggests that the vast majority of companies have security models that are semifunctional at best. Accountability is a hit-or-miss affair, confidence in the system as a whole is minimal, and the flaws that contribute to data breaches aren't confined to any single level of an organization. Not the most optimistic Friday read, I'll admit, but the results aren't all that surprising, either.

Friday, October 10, 2008

Live-in: Some fear misuse, Some welcome it

Maharashtra government's nod to the 'live-in' proposal, where in it considered giving the status of a 'wife' to a woman, if she is involved in such a relationship for a 'reasonable period', has received mixed reactions, raising fears of misuse.

Nishita John, a professional working in a consultancy firm feels that the government need not bring in legislation to regulate live-in relationships.

"If the relationship between the two individuals is consensual, then both should also consider how they will manage if the relationship should fail. It is not for the state to decide anything," she said.

Maharashtra government had approved the proposal on October 8, based on recommendations of the Justice Mallimath Committee which said if a man and a woman are living together as husband and wife for a 'reasonably long period', the man shall be deemed to have married the woman according to customary rights of either party.

The committee had also mooted that the definition of the word 'wife' under Section 125 of the CrPc, be amended to include a woman, living with the man like his wife for a 'reasonably long period'.

However, the definition of 'reasonably long period' is missing from the recommendation, which has left many worried on account of its worthiness and ramifications as it may be grossly misused.

"The period for which the couple live together should be clearly defined to ensure that it cannot be misused," Vivek Jaiswal, a software professional, said.

Indian cities have been seeing a growing number of live-in relationships, a concept once frowned upon as being too 'Western', and popular culture like films have also begun to accept the reality of its existence.

However, experts feel that the debate over the amendment was a larger one that extended beyond live-in relationships, which are more an urban phenomenon.

"The amendment would be more useful to women living in rural areas. In many areas polygamy still exists with no legal rights for the second wife under law," lawyer and women's right activist Veena Gowda said.

This new definition of a wife under the CrPC would provide some financial protection to women who are in relationships that are deemed as marriage by the society they live-in but have no legal standing, she said.

Monday, September 29, 2008

Pencil Vs. Pen

Choice Pencil:

Disposable pens are made of plastic, which doesn't biodegrade and
is hazardous when burned. Excepting the metal bit around the eraser,
pencils naturally dispose of themselves when you sharpen them.

Better yet: Fountain pen

Thursday, September 25, 2008

Who is King Mouse or Keyboard ?

I consider myself to be a fairly fast typer, albeit it with two fingers. No matter how hard my teachers in computer classes at College classes would try, I never got the whole concept of touch-typing with all my fingers. However, I am sure that using my two fingers that I could now out type most all of my teachers. Although being able to type is an important skill I am not sure how important the ability to type fast is to people who choose a career in IT and focus on the Microsoft platform.

I was working in a cyber cafe yesterday with a friend of mine that works in IT but in the Linux space as a systems administrator. While I was finalising an upcoming Reporting Services course that I am delivering he was making changes to DNS for one of his clients. What amazed me was not the number of commands that he was typing but the sheer speed at which he was typing. When I asked what he was doing after feverishly typing for several minutes, he responded that he was still making DNS changes. As someone that worked as a systems administrator back in the NT 4 days, I know how easy it is to make a DNS change. Simply open DNS manger and with a couple clicks and typing a few IP addresses the change is made. In some ways I think that not working in a command line environment has meant that typing speeds have dropped, as there is no longer a need to type reams of commands to achieve something simple. Do you think fast typing is still a skill that a DBA should have?

Mouse is taking place of Keyboard but Keyboard is king!!

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

You will proud to be an Indian....

A Pakistani man says...

The two Ambani brothers can buy 100 percent of every company
listed on the Karachi Stock Exchange (KSE) and would still be left
with $30 billion to spare. The four richest Indians can buy up all
goods and services produced over a year by 169 million Pakistanis
and still be left with $60 billion to spare. The four richest Indians
are now richer than the forty richest Chinese.

In November, Bombay Stock Exchange's benchmark Sensex flirted
with 20,000 points. As a consequence, Mukesh Ambani's Reliance
Industries became a $100 billion company (the entire KSE is
capitalized at $65 billion). Mukesh owns 48 percent of Reliance.

In November, comes Neeta's birthday. Neeta turned
forty-four three weeks ago. Look what she got from
her husband as her birthday present: A sixty-million
dollar jet with a custom fitted master bedroom, bathroom
with mood lighting, a sky bar, entertainment cabins,
satellite, television, wireless communication and a separate
cabin with game consoles. Neeta is Mukesh Ambani's wife,
and Mukesh is not India's richest but t he second richest.

Mukesh is now building his new home, Residence Antillia
(after a mythical, phantom island somewhere in the Atlantic
Ocean). At a cost of $1 billion this would be the most expensive
home on the face of the planet. At 173 meters tall Mukesh's new
family residence, for a family of six, will be the equivalent of a
60-storeyed building. The first six floors are reserved for parking.
The seventh floor is for ca servicing and maintenance. The eighth
floor houses a mini-theatre. Then there's a health club, a gym and
a swimming pool. Two floors are reserved for Ambani family's guests.
Four flo ors above the guest floors are family floors all with a superb
view of the Arabian Sea. On top of everything are three helipads.
A staff of 600 is expected to care for the family and their family home.

In 2004, India became the 3rd most attractive foreign direct
investment destination. Pakistan wasn't even in the top 25 countries.
In 2004, the United Nations, the representative body of 192 sovereign
member states, had requested the Election Commission of India to
assist the UN in the holding elections in Al Jumhuriyah al Iraqiyah
and Dowlat-e Eslami-ye Afghanestan. Why the Election Commission
of India and not the Election Commission of Pakistan? After all,
Islamabad i closer to Kabul than is Delhi.

Imagine, 12 percent of all American scientists are of Indian origin;
38 percent of doctors in America are Indian; 36 percent of NASA
scientists are Indians; 34 percent of Microsoft employees are Indians;
and 28 percent of IBM employees are Indians.

For the record: Sabeer Bhatia created and founded Hotmail. Sun
Microsystems was founded by Vinod Khosla. The Intel Pentium
processor, that runs 90 percent of all computers, was fathered by
Vinod Dham. Rajiv Gupta co-invented Hewlett Packard's E-speak
project. Four out of ten Silicon Valley start-ups are run by Indians.
Bolly wood produces 800 movies per year and s ix Indian ladies
have won Miss Universe/Miss World titles over the past 10 years.

For the record: Azim Premji, the richest Muslim entrepreneur on
the face of the planet, wa born in Bombay and now lives in
Bangalore.India now has more than three dozen billionaires;
Pakistan has none (not a single dollar billionaire).

The other amazing aspect is the rapid pace at which India is
creating wealth. In 2002, Dhirubhai Ambani, Mukesh and
Anil Ambani's father, left his two sons a fortune worth $2.8 billion.
In 2007, their combined wealth stood at $94 billion. On 29 October
2007, as a result of the stock market rally and the appreciation of
the Indian rupee, Mukesh became the richest person in the world,
with net worth climbing to US$63.2 billion (Bill Gates, the richest
American, stands at around $56 billion).

Indians and Pakistanis have the same Y-chromosome haplogroup.
We have the same genetic sequence and the same genetic marker
(namely: M124). We have the same DNA molecule, the same DNA
sequence. Our culture our traditions and our cuisine are all the same.
We watch the same movies and sing the same songs. What is it that
Indians have and we don't?


Monday, September 22, 2008

US meltdown: 5 lessons for investors

The stunning collapse of Lehman Brothers and the crisis engulfing Wall Street is having an impact across the world. There could be several more developments over the next few months that might make things more difficult.

For investors, this is an important period to learn from such developments. This will ensure that they are not in a tough situation in the future. Here are five such important lessons.

Every investment has risk: Typically, during good times, investors tend to ignore the risk element in a paper and focus only on returns.

Investors in equities stand to lose their entire money, if the company goes down. The plunging shares prices of Lehman Brothers, Freddie Mac and Fannie Mae to one dollar proves that entire market capitalisations can simply get wiped out.

Even debt market products get badly hit on account of the write-down of the debt that they hold. So, a portfolio needs to be as diversified as possible to insulate a person for such situations.

Everything is interlinked: From the price of a stock to an insurance policy, everything is linked. A fall in the price of a particular stock in Europe could mean the overseas mutual fund, where you have invested, is likely to see a fall in its net asset value. Even an insurance policy with a domestic company, which has a foreign partner, can be adversely impacted.

The latter implies you will lose your premiums as well as your cover. While such risks cannot be avoided, a portfolio that contains only domestic stocks or an insurance company may sound safe, but there is no guarantee that it will not be impacted adversely.

Diversify, the only mantra for retirement planning: The result of all the financial planning is gauged by the final corpus that you are able to create for retirement.

A sufficiently-big nest will ensure that there are adequate funds during the sunset years. Many people, even those who are in the financial sector, make the basic mistake of putting all their eggs in one basket.

Many a time, employees buy shares of their own companies thinking that being an insider they are privy to the most-sensitive information. This could lead to a great risk, if suddenly something were to go wrong.

The solution again is diversification. Having exposure to local equities, international equities, debt, commodities together would be a better idea to create a sound portfolio that will weather tough times. And even within each of these areas, spread the money across investment options.

Treat your career like an investment: Most people do not pay the right amount of attention to their career or working life. Just like an investment that needs constant monitoring and analysis, there is a need to monitor the career in the same manner. Most people are shocked when they lose their jobs.

The better way is to be prepared for the worst. That will help to insulate you from any career related problem.

Also, concentration on issues like upgrading skills through training, attending conferences and seminars and networking will help to improve your career. Yes, all these cost money. However, the returns over the years are much more.

Save during good times: Most importantly, when the earnings are high, save well. Good times are not for ever. Creating a meaningful portfolio or a simple savings corpus would be of great help during bad times. Proper investments will ensure that there are reserves that can be used during emergencies.

A sum of Rs 10,000 saved each month for 25 years growing at 15 per cent annually will give rise to a corpus of Rs 2.55 crore (Rs 25.5 million). All this money can be rather useful when the cash flow actually stops. Arnav Pandya

Friday, September 19, 2008

E-mail etiquette for your Mobile devices

  • Don't compose and converse at the same time. I’ve seen it many times, and so have you. Someone who is multitasking—talking on the phone, typing an e-mail, and who knows what else. (Yes, I’ve seen eating, drinking, and grooming.) "If you must answer or type a message, please excuse yourself," says Oliver Mims, who hosts the online etiquette series "Proper Ollie." "Do not type and carry on a conversation at the same time." And why not? It's just bad manners. You wouldn't imagine talking to someone on the phone and in person at the same time, would you?
  • Take your time—or better yet, wait. Related to the distraction problem above, if you’ve ever been on the receiving end of a message hastily typed from a smartphone, you know what I'm talking about. The message is riddled with typographical errors and appears abrupt. "People are so anxious to answer on the spot that they sacrifice the quality of their communication, which wouldn’t be the case had they waited to respond," says Pamela Holland, co-author of "Help! Was That a Career Limiting Move?"
  • Don't keep the device on 24/7. Even though being accessible all day and night can be good for business, it can ultimately be bad for you. In my earlier version of this column, short battery lives meant it was impractical to keep a smartphone powered "on" all day, but that's increasingly not the case. Just because you can be wired all the time, don't submit to the temptation. We all know the impact of "always connected" lifestyles on our personal health.
  • Mind your Ps and Qs. Technology can be a blessing and a curse. My PDA, for example, can finish words by trying to guess what I wanted to say. Pay close attention to this "helpful" feature, because it doesn’t always guess correctly. Ditto for automatic spell-check features.
Whether you’re sending or receiving e-mail from a mobile device, one rule holds true: If you're aware of your surroundings, and aware of other people, you're far less likely to offend anyone. That's how I see it.

"When people are mindful of being considerate and respectful of
those around them, they usually make the right social decisions."

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Productivity Without E-mail

Over the last two days I have been focusing on prototype of a new Project. In order to ensure that I was not distracted I turned off all interruptions. Everything from e-mail to instant messenger and even my cell phone were turned off so that there were no external distractions at all. To be perfectly honest the last two days have been the most productive days that I have had for a long time. I know that much of my day can be spent sitting in Outlook, meaning that by the end of the day I feel like I have achieved nothing more that add a dozen or more tasks to my To Do list. The last two days have been a liberating experience; I have felt that by cutting the umbilical cord to my inbox I have achieved so much. Looking at the number of unread messages I now have, though, has taken the shine off breaking free.

I sometimes think that e-mail is more of a distraction then a productivity tool. I am a big fan of picking up the phone and calling someone. Often a phone call will only take a few minutes whereas an e-mail conversation can take numerous e-mails to archive the same result. Do you think that e-mail is productivity tool or just another distraction we can often do without?

Monday, September 15, 2008

Tips to protect your WiFi from hackers

It could any one of us. Wake up one morning to discover that the Indian Mujahideen has hacked into our Internet account and sent out a chilling mail claiming responsibility for a terror attack on the nation.

The e-mails sent out in the aftermath of the Delhi and Ahmedabad blasts reveal that the Indian Mujhahideen hacked into unsecure WiFi networks to send out the terror e-mail.

Internet users could adopt the following methods to ensure that s/he is safe.
  1. Disabling the SSID broadcast. To some extent this makes it difficult for the hacker to detect the presence of a WiFi access point.
  2. Enable MAC address filter. Each network interface has a unique MAC address, by filtering it, one can to an extent control which machines can use the access point.
  3. Turn on WPA/WEP encryption. This ensures that traffic between a legitimate machine and an access point is not readable.
  4. Change default admin passwords for access points.
  5. Ensure access points are placed securely. In the centre of a room/office etc to minimise its signal strength outside the office.

Even after following the above precautions, your WiFI account could be compromised and hence, the things to look at are:

  • Monitor usage of the access point. Have a clear inventory and knowledge about the position of each access point.
  • Monitor the usage of the Internet link, to know what traffic is going out. For example, some corporate block e-mail providers like yahoo or hotmail. Hence, even if the access point is compromised, the hacker may not be able to use public e-mail systems.
  • Consider a specific security policy for wireless networks. For example, most companies primarily use wired networks in the office as the primary media. Access points are used in common areas like conferences rooms etc. Hence, strict policies can be deployed on wireless networks as compared to wired networks.

Role of Digital Forensics:

Digital Forensics means the analysis of electronic media to detect forgery or manipulation. It is used to identify possible culprits and also to gather legal evidence to be used for prosecution.

Digital Forensics is a highly-specialised area and if not done using the right skills and tools could lead to evidence being deleted or not usable in the court of law. It is similar to that of criminal forensics and hence needs special skills and tools. Hence, it would be advisable for companies to understand their responsibility and the do's and don'ts during a breach.

Public e-mails systems have limited information about its users and normally provide it to law enforcement agencies on special request. This information is picked up during e-mail ID creation, usage etc.

Most usual information picked up is the source of the Internet Protocol, which can be masked using techniques like using others' WiFi networks. Hence, unless e-mail providers enable higher security mechanisms like special authentication while creating users not much can be done. It is not easy for e-mail providers to do this as, by definition, these e-mail systems are free and open for people to use.

Pathetic handling of Delhi blasts' aftermath

Half an hour after the first blast in New Delhi on Saturday, the NDTV 24/7 telecast telling visuals that said it all. We just don't know how to handle the aftermath of the terror attacks which we don't know how to forestall.

Take, for example, the young woman in a yellow top and black trousers, hurt in the bombing of the Connaught Place's Central Park. She was shown being carried away, four persons holding a limb each to a police vehicle several yards away in Connaught Place. She was dripping blood, her head snapped back under its own weight and in agony.

No stretcher in sight, no ambulance within miles and crowds who should have scattered to safety and enable the police to do their job, such as the job they do -- ham-handed, impulsive, not to a drill that would maximise results.

One does not know what happened to the poor young woman. Such victims are threatened with death less because of the injuries but more due to the way she was handled by well-meaning but perhaps misguided people. We may actually be pushing up the death toll and bolster the designs of the terrorists. And the State owes something better to its citizens.

Cut to the train blasts in Mumbai on July 11, 2006. Scores of people, badly mauled, were seen carried away in bed sheets thrown at the impromptu rescuers from homes along the railway tracks. Persons with a limb torn away were carted away in auto-rickshaws by good Samaritans, the ride being given free.

Speed, one accepts, is of the essence. But the means also has to be proper so that the good intent does not translate to death or further complications. It is as if the disaster managers don't even know that there is something called the Golden Hour when best support is required, even before the person is reached to the hospital. That is why modern civilisations -- we are living in one, aren't we? -- has the concept called an ambulance.

This kind of speedy but amateurish shift of the hurt, dying and the dead has been seen in every location where the terrorist struck by seting off explosions -- Hyderabad, Bangalore, Jaipur , Ahemedabad and now Delhi. This mishandling and the delays in being attended to on reaching the hospitals, I bet, are the causes of several deaths. Or permanent damage to the body.


Because, we have just not got our act together, despite the country having had a high-powered committee, headed by Sharad Pawar to outline how disaster management ought to be because of his experience of handling the aftermath of the March 12, 1993 serial blasts in Mumbai.

Now cut to the scenes outside the various train stations in London after the July 7, 2005 train bombings. Not an individual who needed medical help was just carried away any which way. Fully equipped ambulances with paramedics on board moved in with stretchers and ensured that help was fully professional. Within minutes plastic tents for on-the-spot support was set up.

It is here that we fall short; grievously so, in fact.

There are other critical phases of post-terrorist attacks where we fail abysmally, though there have been a few instances of positive gains made in policing. Here is the brief, very brief, positive list:

One, the Indian security agencies have now learnt to zero-in on the suspect computers or their routers used to send out terror threats or claims owning up attacks and IP addresses are located.

Two, in Surat, bomb after bomb which did not go off were found and defused, bomb by bomb, without any untoward collateral damage.

However, and unfortunately, there is not much to be added to this list because, apart from Afzal Guru and those convicted in the Mumbai's 1993 blasts, how many terrorists have been brought to book? Even Afzal Guru's death sentence remains to be carried out.

Now, let us look at the negative list of our so called anti-terror policing.

In Surat, in their hurry to unload and defuse the bombs found in the cars left on Surat roads, the police obliterated every fingerprint on it. These prints would have been valuable to fixing the involvement of people who otherwise would get the benefit of doubt and be let off for want of evidence.

This sleight of hand is now a thing of the past because the Indian Mujahedeen has made it a habit to announce its ownership of the dastardly acts. Now, it has even started sending e-mails minutes the blasts it sets off, saving the police the task of speculating as to who did it.

Take again the failure of the close-circuit cameras set up on the toll plazas on the highways going out of Mumbai. They caught not a single car that was stolen from Navi Mumbai for use in Ahmedabad and Surat because, as a senior police official of Thane district adjoining Gujarat explained, 'They were all at angles to photograph trucks' and not cars which are low-slung in comparison.

Equally galling was the -- yes, well meaning but potentially hazardous -- way a constable grabbed the plastic bag containing a bomb from two rag pickers in Delhi on Saturday, using a stone to crush the clock that was a timer. He saved lives, but he may have jeopardised those in the vicinity. Who knows, instead of disarming, he may have even set off an explosion. Where, pray, were the bomb disposal squads?

Policemen just do not have the means to chase the clues, and my feeling is that if there are suspects who have been brought to courts, then they are those who have confessed because of the third degree and those confessions found their way to the charge sheets. The good old policing is just dead.

Therefore, I have a more humane suggestion. Before we learn to catch the terrorist and then use any law against them, let us learn to handle those innocents who fall victim to the terrorists. Or else, we would be only shadow boxing.