Sep 16, 2013

Taiwan style discipline and civic sense - will it work for India?

Or for that matter any other country?

I have been to Taiwan several times and love the country, its people and their strong civic sense and environment friendly habits. I have written earlier about trash cans and plastic bags.

It goes beyond that.

In most manufacturing companies, workers (not just blue collar, but office workers at all levels)

  1. take the stairs to move about the building, even if they have to climb up and down 3 floors or so. Lifts are only used by invalids or VIPs.
  2. bring their own cutlery (steel chopsticks, spoon) to the lunch canteen, which they wash themselves and take back!
  3. not only clear their lunch trays but also dispose of food waste and containers separately depending on type, and in one company, even rinse them under water before handing back. I noticed this in Korea too.
  4. Do not ask for, or provided plastic cups or those white foam cups for drinks. They bring their own cups or bottles, which are re-used after washing. This applies even to regular visitors like project consultants, not just full time staff. 
  5. Switch off toilet lights if they are the last ones to leave!
  6. Switch off office lights during lunch time.

I have not asked, but I suspect most of this is voluntary compliance, not measures enforced with fines or other punishment.

Wonder how many of these rules will work in India or even Singapore which is 'famous' for its rules and regulations. If enforced, it may lead to strikes, riots and violence in India and perhaps staff quietly leaving for other companies / jobs in Singapore!

The benefits are enormous. Labourers, instead of spending time cleaning and disposing trash can work on more important, higher paid jobs, for one.

Sep 4, 2013

Patent protection in USA

I have long believed, based on a non-expert but decent understanding of the tech industry as well as accounting, legal and other allied matters that US patent system is not just ineffective but is basically yet another competitive weapon in the hands of Uncle Sam.

A weapon that is used ruthlessly exploiting the advantage of being the biggest consumer market and economy. That advantage is exploited elsewhere too. While Swiss bankers ask India to go suck its thumb when its govt (half heartedly and selectively, no doubt) asks for details of tax cheats and their holdings in Swiss banks, Uncle is able to squeeze their balls and get the information out.

President Obama's decision to favor Apple over Samsung, despite the outrageous behaviour of Apple on patent matters, that is too well documented to need elaboration, is a case in point.

Here is a President issuing a executive fiat that says when push comes to shove, Apple or for that any American company can rely on its government to save its behind while offering little or no protection to foreign businesses reeling from exploitative, greedy and sleazy lawyers, arrogant big companies and a truly nonsensical patent system. A system that allows patent on ginger, turmeric, basmati rice and other grandma remedies known elsewhere for generations. A system that allows jury to award billion dollar damages without even debating it for a few hours, that too on patents that are dubious and do not stand up to scrutiny by its own system.

America can get away with it. Because it is big. It is as simple as that.