Friday, January 22, 2010

..being a passenger?

For many years, I was perfectly content, even relieved, to sit back and release the control and direction of my life to others. I found comfort in relinquishing personal responsibility and allowing someone else to take charge. The decisions, and consequences, no longer rested heavy upon my shoulders. I had no need to take care of myself as my trust and faith lay completely in those around me. When life reared its ugly head, I was comforted with the knowledge and acceptance that the driver would maneuver me to a place of safety. The more time that passed, the more control I relinquished to others, the less I trusted myself and the less I knew the boundary between my own life and those that were carrying me along for the ride.

In many ways, it was a comfortable way to live. It was the easy way. It was the only way I knew. Eventually, and gradually, I came to realize that life is not always easy and finding the most comfortable way is only guaranteed to impede any personal growth. I needed a driver and I was destined to be the passenger.

Years later, I look back on those times with mixed emotions. At times, I think back and long for the comfort of reassurances that “everything will be okay”. But I also look back and realize that where I stand today, and who I am today, is far better than being just “a passenger in my own life”. The journey is much harder now, the terrain much more treacherous at times. I no longer take the easy route, depending on others to guide me toward that illusory pot of gold at the end of the rainbow. In fact, it is often difficult to even see the rainbow these days. But when the rain stops and the clouds move away, when I look up and see the rainbow at the end of the storm, I know that the beauty I see is because I have chosen to look up and see it. I am no longer dictated by the direction of others, no longer dependent upon the reassurance that “everything will be okay”. The truth of life is that everything will not always be okay, but through the struggles, I will become stronger and in the end, I will be okay.

I like to be the driver these days. It’s frustrating and confusing and overwhelming at times, especially when the traffic is bad. But in each of the difficult moments, I remind myself that I am not a weak person and I grow a little bit more. Through frustration, I learn patience. Through confusion, I learn to seek clarity, to take chances, and to have faith in myself. And in those overwhelming moments, I learn that my own strength is far greater than I ever knew. Strength and hope and determination are the passengers that now accompany me. I am happy to no longer be “a passenger in my own life”.

All is well!

Thursday, January 21, 2010

India's Energy Plans - or the lack of it!

Anything tangible or intangible, that costs money is evaluated very carefully and used equally carefully in India. This means expenses are controlled and kept as low as possible. The scenario in energy consumption in India is no different. It is not surprising that the per capita energy consumption figures are very low inspite of high rate of development now taking place.

Conventional sources are depleting, and even those coal based projects that are located at pit-mouth (for instance, in Jharkhand, WB) have only paltry stocks as fuel reserve. The solution is either to import coal and gas, or look towards other non-conventional sources.

India is blessed with an abundance of sunlight, water and biomass. What vigorous efforts during the past two decades have done is that people in all walks of life are more aware of the benefits of renewable energy, especially decentralized energy where required in villages and in urban or semi-urban centers. India has the world's largest programme for renewable energy as well.

However, a critical issue is that most of the capital allocated to such initiatives does not reach the intended target. A major share of this capital is consumed trying to make policies and trying to figure out what should be done. Policymakers' lack of clarity and gap between state and centre leads to unwarranted delay too.

What is required is a "learn as you go" approach, thereby reducing time-to-market, and inculcate a sense of continuity for the plans.

Sunday, January 17, 2010

Startups - and money!

Raising money is the second hardest part of starting a startup. The hardest part is making something people want: most startups that die, die because they didn't do that. But the second biggest cause of death is probably the difficulty of raising money. Fundraising is brutal.

One reason it's so brutal is simply the brutality of markets. People who've spent most of their lives in schools or big companies may not have been exposed to that. Professors and bosses usually feel some sense of responsibility toward you; if you make a valiant effort and fail, they'll cut you a break. Markets are less forgiving. Customers don't care how hard you worked, only whether you solved their problems.

Investors evaluate startups the way customers evaluate products, not the way bosses evaluate employees. If you're making a valiant effort and failing, maybe they'll invest in your next startup, but not this one.

But raising money from investors is harder than selling to customers, because there are so few of them.

When investors can't make up their minds, they sometimes describe it as if it were a property of the startup. "You're too early for us," they sometimes say. But which of them, if they were taken back in a time machine to the hour Google was founded, wouldn't offer to invest at any valuation the founders chose? An hour old is not too early if it's the right startup. What "you're too early" really means is "we can't figure out yet whether you'll succeed."

Sent on my BlackBerry® from Vodafone