Category: Miscellaneous


Indian Rail Pantry Catering – one of the biggest contract in Indian Railways is possibly turning out to be the biggest pain for passengers travelling on long distance journeys. While the passenger has to trust (and in many cases has no other option) the pantry car for supplying hygienic food, the contractors are doing their best to squeeze out money and serve just bearable food. All this under the nose of the government which awards these contracts and is responsible for overlooking these contractors.

How and Why does this happens ? I tried finding during my return journey from Bilaspur to Delhi.

I was travelling in Sleeper coach as I could not get confirmed 3AC reservation. What this does is that I loose the preferential treatment from pantry guys in 3AC, I get dirty and crowded coach to sit it which is raided by vendors whenever they wish and I have to use a bathroom which I would never use under normal circumstances. Anyways, perils of travelling in sleeper coach later.

I ordered food (dinner) to the pantry boy who was collecting orders. The irregularity that I noticed was that the pantry boy didn’t show/had any menu card nor did he disclosed the price of food. The price list is not displayed anywhere except possibly the pantry car coach where its produced on demand. My food came promptly with the following items 1) Dal 2) Aloo Sabzi 3) Rice 4) 2 Roti. Not tempting for sure but what to do when a man is hungry !

Now came the bomb surprise when I was asked for Rs. 82 for the plate of dinner I had. Not only me but other co-passengers who were having the same food were surprised. Sensing our surprise and anger, he did the best thing. He went and got the bill and sat down to talk – all this to prove his innocence in all this.

Railway Pantry Car Bill

So while there was no “Mix Veg” (it was plain aloo matar sabzi) and “Papad” in the food served, the same is shown in bill, still authenticating that Rs. 82 is the caterer decided price to be charged. Ironically, Sleeper ticket costs Rs. 350 for a 1000 km odd journey where you will order day and night meals and if you add to that breakfast of Rs. 50 (Yes ! They charge Rs. 50 for breakfast of 2 cutlets + 2 breads or 2 breads + omlette) it works out to Rs. 214 which is 70% of the ticket cost itself. And all this with the approval of the government who approves these tenders and these prices/menus. Does the government really thinks Rs. 82 is the right price to be charged on train for such a measly meal, moreso when there are such class of people travelling who travel in Sleeper Class to save some money. The result of all this is that they end of eating unhygienic cheap food served at station stops or vendors.

Our talk with the pantry boy revealed more interesting facts. Apart from the fact which he asserted that these are government approved rates, he acknowledged that the food quality is not good and the contractor is loosing out customers with high price low quality food. On an average per coach, the pantry car prepares 20 plates of food. For our particular train, 250 dinner plates had been prepared. Our discussion happened around 10 PM and he told us that only 100 plates were sold. What happens to the remaining 150 ? The excess food is thrown away !! Simply thrown away !! Wasted !!. Made me feel angry for such wastage of food to happen. Supposedly the contractor prefers throwing the food over selling it for lesser price. Is this really the policy under which contracts are given to contractors ?

So how does the contractor make money if so much wastage and loss of food happens. The pantry boy revealed that the cost of this food wastage is inbuilt in the food served to us which is why its being served at high price of Rs. 82. So not only are we make to pay high price for barely eatable quality food, we also are made to pay for food wastage which the contractor does just to keep the prices jacked up.

While we all ended up paying Rs. 82 for the meal, we felt cheated and more-so angry for never complaining about this to authorities. I for once decided to put out this blog-post as a complaint against this wastage of food and loot of money. I did search out on google other people who had complained on public forums. If only the government can look into it and take some action to bring such scrupulous practices to an end so that the journey on Indian Railways can become pleasurable, safe and healthy.

So retrospectively speaking, all of us desire we had visualized the Facebook growth story and own some shares of the company. An investment couple of years back would have made anyone a millionare. Wishful thinking ! 🙂

Well nothing to worry about. You can be part of the possible next big thing in socia media space – Zurker, and actually own it. That too for free !! Yes you head it right :).

Zurker is currently in beta phase and is giving access to public through invitation only. What makes the invite special is the fact that you get to own equity shares in Zurker by just accepting the invitation and creating a valid account. Cool isn’t it ?

So go ahead and join Zurker ! I am extending the invitation for the benefit of all readers. After all a free meal isn’t something which you get every other day.

Click here for invitation to join Zurker

 And that’s not all. If you are really impressed with Zurker or want to just play a wild investment, Zurker gives you opportunity to buy upto 500 Vshares. So you need not regret later of not knowing the big thing around.

I just couldn’t find a reason not to join. 🙂 Enjoy !

Click here for invitation to join Zurker

“There are some moments in history that will be milestones recognized by future generations. This is one such milestone. Today, we see the beginning of a dream realized, a dream in which every student in every corner of this country will have access to technology that defines the 21st Century.”

These were the words of Mr. Kapil Sibal, Union Minister for Human Resource Development at the launch of Aakash tablet. The tablet whose commercial name is Ubislate7 is a dream come true for many. The power of technology within reach.

I just pre-ordered my Tablet today to be part of the dream, the change that is going to cause a revolution in digital media and education. And for those who are interested in doing the same, the same can be pre-ordered using the Toll Free No. 1800-180-2180. I was told that the tablet will arrive in Market in mid-December but I guess as per news information floating on the market its expected to arrive anytime end of this month. So I guess mid-December is when waitlist would move to my order number.

The Tablet is priced at INR 3000 for the commercial version. Good news is that it is also available for INR 1750 for students but for that the school/college principal/dean has to approach the company Datawind.

For those who want to know why you should be impressed with the Aakash Tablet here is what you get for INR 3000

  • 7-inch resistive touchscreen display
  • Screen Resolution of 800 x 480 pixels
  • Android 2.2 Froyo Operating System
  • 366 MHz processor
  • Lightweight – 350 gms weight
  • 256MB RAM and 2GB Flash Memory
  • PDF Viewer and Text Editor with support for various formats of documents
  • Connectivity – GPRS, Wi-Fi 802.11 a/b/g
  • 1 USB 2.0 Standard Port
  • 3.5mm headset jack for Audio output

 The difference between the student version and commercial version is that the student version would have only wifi, no sim card slot option and no access to android market. The commercial version would have  wifi, sim card slot and also access to android market.

So go ahead and be part of the Indian Revolution.

BLISTERING HEAT!

It’s not even June and the heat is unbearable already. For people like me enjoying vacations at home, there is nothing much to do except stay at home during the day when its 45 degrees outside. No point discussing the reasons for this super hot summer which started breaking records in April itself. Our own actions are distorting the nature’s cycle and we are the ones who will have to bear the wrath.

I feel really sorry for the little kids who have to go to school in this scorching heat. Although the government and school administration are doing their bit to reduce the school timings to around 10:00 AM before it becomes hot but it isn’t helping when it’s the temperature starts hovering around 35 degrees at 9:00 AM in the morning. My cousin goes to class 8th leaving for school at 6:30 AM and back by 10:15 AM. If heat was taking away the fun of going to school, the reduced study hours is not helping the kids learn much. My cousin gave a description of the worsened situation with insufficient infrastructure at schools that have not been upgraded to deal with the hot summers. With old fans and frequent power cuts they have to rely on opening windows and letting the hot air in to get ventilation and fresh air. Add to this the afternoon tuition timings imposed by teachers gives the kids no respite in summers.

As I write this, the best thing that has happened for the kids is that the schools have closed for summer vacations. I, for my cousin, went to her tuition teacher and requested to change the tuition timings to evening. Hopefully now she would be able to enjoy the summer holidays like we used to and then go back to school, after the vacations, in July when it would be comparatively cooler due to the monsoon rains.

Happy Holidays!!

Google Buzzing now !

Lots of us might already have started using the buzz, for those who haven’t just check your Gmail account and you will be seeing a screen telling you about a new feature: the Google Buzz.

The first impression it gives is that it is another tweet kind of application. On second thoughts, there are differences like you cannot “reBuzz” somebody’s buzz. You cannot form lists or tagwords. Well then, if google doesn’t puts all this in, its not the twitter way.

It then again looks like Facebook : stripped of all applications. But I am sure Google didn’t went to all this trouble just to copy one simple “status update” usage of Facebook.

With Yahoo! Buzz already in existence what was the need that Google tries to fulfill through Buzz? Google is known for it’s innovation and I surely admire Google for it. However, some say Google Buzz looks more like a desperate attempt by Google to compete with Facebook & Twitter. With Orkut almost dead, Google Wave not quite triggering off in the way Google expected, Google does seem a little bit out of competition in the social networking domain. Or is it one of the ways by which Google fulfills it’s dream of being present in every segment of online business.

Buzz doesn’t seems so bad though. It automatically added up people whom I talk to the most. It’s attached to your gmail account so whenever you check your mail you will surely check the Buzzes. Gmail is not going to go anywhere, and so might not Buzz. One can Buzz from cell phone very much like twitter. It enables sharing photos & videos which gives it the ability what Google Wave was doing. Also one can import posts/updates from twitter and blogs which increases the usability of Buzz in terms of promotion of self.

It does has a lot of scope of improvement with regards to features which I am sure Google is working on. The only weird thing is it’s attached to Google Mail, so if I want to follow any person I should know his Gmai Id. This might restrict the success of the likes of twitter which gives the freedom to follow anyone without knowing his/her contact details.

Google Buzz doesn’t seems a nuisance as of now. The question remains whether with applications like Facebook and Twitter, will it emerge successful? Wait & Watch  !

Idea: Doing away with Exams in MBA

Finally the mid terms finished. 3 days of hectic studying ( we try doing the same on other days also..) and finally it ended with after-exam celebrations. The idea of exams makes all fret. So while we were discussing about it, the discussion suddenly centered on do we really need exams.
Well, before I continue further, let me say that this is only in context of exams in MBA colleges. The whole idea of exam is to test a student’s competency but is the purpose solved? That’s a big question and many a times we think we know the answer. Why would an MBA student be required to mug up all theory, solve all mathematical problems which (as the thinking goes) he never has to do in real life. Won’t your secretary do that for you. Well then, how do we test the competency. One view is we should have project and presentations which test the knowledge of a student in real time and in practical terms. I personally like this idea a lot because on an individual basis this methodology inspires me to not only read on the subject, develop interest in it and present it to others which gives a sense of fulfillment. Real time implementation would not only help in learning better but also experiencing the real challenges that would never be there in solving text & exam problems.
Having said that, the other side argues that, if there are no exams how many times would you actually read through the text and gain knowledge. At least by this way, students forcefully read and get some knowledge. Bu aren’t we here (in MBA college) by will ?. Are we not here to learn, to gain something, to make a career ?. Will we not automatically care for ourselves and do the learning without the pressure of 3 day hectic exams. What’s the need of exams in which even if you have knowledge, but by a silly mistake you end up loosing marks, grades, CGPA which finally affects your career. Why? just because you mistakenly wrote 8 instead of 3 and got your answer wrong and hence penalized?? Bad marks only does the work of demotivating and that’s certainly not what somebody wants.
Other means of constructive evaluation which give real time learning and feedback are more better ways according to me. Having said that, different people would give different views and so the debate remains always open. I’m eager to hear your view 🙂

Thought to write something some globe on the concept GLOBE. Was introduced to this term in engineering by a different name and was referred to by ‘Globe’ in MBA. Hmm..nah actually job, so can actually say it exists everywhere. For those poor souls who don’t know what it means: Globe is any and all amount of shit that you can talk on a topic, any of which is nowhere related to the topic, and at the same time you convince the listener that you know more than him. Although the dictionary defines it as

globe

noun 1 a spherical or rounded object. 2 (the globe) the earth. 3 a spherical representation of the earth with a map on the surface.

Can’t tell where the other meaning originated from, but nevertheless an interesting concept, even livelyhood for many. And believe me it takes time be be an expert in the art ;). The quality ranges from pathetic globes to awesome globes wherein you feel proud to achieve that level. And if you’ve started thinking that this concept is practiced by students.. …ahh… here is the surprise… You are wrong 😉 ! Just came back giving two quizzes and both were total GLOBES 😦 . Finance question in marketing paper, arbit questions, and even arbit answers. So the story doesn’t ends here. The globe concept moves like the “real” definition of globe.. from lower level to upper level…and back from them to lower level. After all the world can’t operate without it …can it ?

MBA Admission….an ART?

It might seem some funda or gyan article on how to crack CAT, well not exactly. As it happened while one of our esteemed professor was giving the lecture at IIM I, the topic of melting markets came up. The discussion diverted to how things are going to be difficult for MBA grads as the market is moving towards recession. And then he said,”You entered IIM I at a time when the world is facing their gravest problems..Tough times ahead. After all it’s an art to decide when to take admission into a MBA College“.

Although we had a laugh about it, but the thought striked me. Times are tough these days and considering the bad scenario, would it really happen that we would be struggling for jobs? Leave aside premier institutes like IIMz where companies will still come and students will get decent offers, but what about lower rung colleges. Hearing news like banks being declared bankrupt, financial institutions falling, just makes us wonder that there might be days when MBA grads are being bargained over by companies for lower & lower prices. But is the situation really that bad? Bad times invite for changes in the current processes. And maybe we have that opportunity to be part of the change. It’s times like these that define whose the one who will survive the long run. So I decided to be optimistic for there is quite some time before I enter the corporate world and things are bound to get improved, and even if it doesn’t, ultimately it’s a person’s capabilities and not the situations that define his success.

Here starts my blogging line again…. Did started this a few months back but then the lazyness took over me. Guess the hectic schedule at IIM I, has oozed that “time wastage” spirit out of me..although I dearly long for it 🙂 . Will write more soon.