Volatile spurts

The blog that never was … almost

Link your Aadhar card to your HP gas account

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One tends to be be quite sceptical when we have a government entity / public sector talk about getting things done online or over phone. It was therefore a pleasant surprise when I tried to link my Aadhar card to my HP gas account.

There are three options by which you can do so. Offline, through the website or an IVR. I tried both the online and IVR option an at least one of them seems to have worked.

Please visit https://rasf.uidai.gov.in/seeding/User/ResidentSplash.aspx to do it online.

Call the number relevant to your city from this list if you are a HP customer and wish to do this over IVR


You can check the status of your connection here.

Written by El Presidente

March 11, 2015 at 10:33 am

The marginal utility of WiFi (terms and conditions notwithstanding)

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Life at business school for me was mostly about trying not to sleep in class and ensuring that I had enough grades to get out of the place with a respectable pass. But as with most things in life, the business school experience was not consistently low, there were intermittent periods of learning too.

One concept that I found very interesting and which stuck on to my head for all these years is that of “marginal utility”. It essentially says that the value of something does not depend on what it does for you now, but what a little more of it can do for you.

It is this concept of marginal utility that immediately came to mind when there was this uproar about how the Aam Aadmi Party had cheated the people of Delhi by promising them free Wifi and later qualifying it with “terms and conditions” once the elections were over. The problem as I see it lies in what exactly free WiFi means to various segments of society and how is it going to be used by them.

For the person whose primary needs of connectivity is met, free WiFi could mean unlimited bandwidth and unlimited download that he can use to stream Hollywood movies onto his Mac. However, for the person who has had no access to the net before, WiFi would mean something else altogether, The marginal utility of WiFi which depends on what use is it going to be put to, therefore also depends on who is going to use it.

Now, the Aam Aadmi Party positions itself as the party of the common man. Therefore we need to see what is the marginal utility of Wifi to the common man, be it only for 30 mins.

  • Free WiFi is the the two hours saved by not having to stand in a queue on a hot summer day to buy a railway ticket
  • Free WiFi is not having to face the grumpy Babu who believes he is gods gift to human kind, that the pay he gets is simply to reach office and anything else he does is a favour.
  • Free WiFi is the ability to apply for your ration card without having to pay a bribe and to also have an instant acknowledgement of the same.
  • Free WiFi is to be able to lodge a complaint about a corrupt government servant without having to fear being traced back by your phone number.
  • Free WiFi is to be able to reach the police and let them know of your exact location by the simple act of hitting a button when you are alone on the streets and being attacked.
  • Free WiFi is being able to download your text books.
  • Free WiFi is being able to get your board exam results without having to pay someone Rs.20
  • Free WiFi is being able to search for and apply to colleges you would otherwise have not even heard of.
  • Free WiFi is being able to file an RTI query.
  • Free WiFi is being able to operate your bank account without having to walk all the way to the bank.

30 mins of free WiFi can transform the lives of the common man. It is this common man who voted for the AAP and it is this common man who is going to evaluate them on what they deliver.

As I see it, those waiting for the inevitable backlash against false promises will have to continue waiting for some time to come.

Written by El Presidente

February 13, 2015 at 3:47 pm

Posted in Others

Kabaddi rising

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I like to believe that I am good at spotting trends and identifying oppurtunities. One obvious area for viable business oppurtunities in India is sport. Of course Cricket was and continues to be best option for sport as business, but the fact that it is an obvious contender makes it a high investment low return option and as in the case of some of the IPL franchisees a loss making business. 

I have wondered about other sports, particularly so football. A game I love playing and has all the ingredients for growth in India. It is an internationally popular sport which is widely followed but not played in India. Unfortunately it is also an obvious candidate and has quite predictably attracted many a fool’s money. Any genuine and successful attempt would immediately be hijacked by some large corporate with deep pockets. 

I have to admit that the classic entrepreneurial model of innovation turning into a viable, scalable business model simply eluded me as far as sport in India was concerned. This is where Pro-Kabaddi seems to have scored. 

In hindsight I wonder how something as obvious as this slipped me. Kabaddi has everything going for it. It is extremely popular in rural india, its an action packed sport requiring minimal equipment and has all the elements of speed, strength, cunning, tactic, skill and strategy to it. Its a contact sport with non stop action during its period of play. Its also has something going for it that few other sport do. Raiding is all about individual skill while pinning the raider is essentially a team activity, thus making it a sport with distinct emphasis on individual talent and team work. 

Of course essential raw material alone do not make a great product and that is where Pro Kabaddi with its product design, positioning and slick marketing comes in. What it has done is to take up a sport that is rural in character and dressed it up to appeal to an urban audience, thereby covering both segments of the market. The investments made on the stadium and telecasting equipment is quite obvious through the quality of the telecast. With its non stop action, quick scoring, and extreme physical nature it resembles American “made for television” games In character and style. In fact, you can be forgiven if you were to mistake the telecast for some NBA game during the interludes. Pitted against it, T20 cricket looks as exciting as a Katha Kaalepshagam by the neighourhood Bhagavathar. Ten minutes into the telecast and am sure any sport aficionado will be hooked to the game.

My bet is that Pro Kabaddi is going to be a winner all the way, and at a measly 2 crore per year license fee for a franchisee, its going to be the biggest rags to riches story of Indian sport. 

Written by El Presidente

August 8, 2014 at 11:52 am

How to increase revenues …

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We use this particular broadband connection from Airtel in our office. We were on an “unlimited” scheme where you enjoyed a high speed connection for the first 10 GB of data in a month. You were then downgraded to a lower “fair use” speed once you crossed the limit. Every time you crossed this “hi speed” limit you would be redirected to a Airtel hosted page that offered to sell you extra bandwidth if you wished to retain the same high speed. You hit a button to opt out and continue with the lower speed. The service cost us Rs.1100/- a month and we were quite happy with it.

A month or so back the “fair use” speed suddenly dropped to levels where it became impossible to work. So we upgraded to a 30 GB “hi speed” plan. This new scheme costs us Rs.1500/- a month.  The new scheme worked well for us for a month since we did not exceed the limit, but this month is different. We have six more days on the billing cycle and we exhausted the 30 GB three days back. That is when things dramatically changed.

The connection is dropped every few minutes and we are redirected to this page that suggests we buy more data.


You will notice there is no opt out button on this page. The only way you can go back to the page you were browsing is by starting from scratch. Imagine having to repeat it every five minutes. And for THREE days in a row. Now, purchase of this package is supposed to be an option. Logically, even someone with the most hopeless memory should have got this message after three days of reminders every five minutes.  Yet Airtel continues to throw this message. For all practical purposes, Airtel is insisting that we buy this extra credit in spite of our having upgraded to a higher plan already.

Unfortunately for Airtel, they don’t seem to realize that this kind of arm twisting is precisely what customers (at least this one) do not like. What they also don’t realize is that there is service called Justdial where all you need to do is to enquire about a service and you get a list of service providers almost immediately.

Just a minute after my call to Justdial, I receive a call from the Adyar office of, yeah you guessed it right, AIRTEL. Looks like Airtel is more interested in acquiring new customers than in retaining existing ones. When I told her that I already had an Airtel connection and was looking for an alternative, she predictably cut the line.

But there were other calls too and I have already issued a cheque for Rs.1622/- for a broadband connection that offers me 1mbps unlimited data at Rs.561/-, no fair use limits, Rs.561 installation charges, Rs.500 refundable deposit. No, am not going to drop my Airtel connection. I believe in the dictum that a known devil is better. However am definitely downgrading to the cheapest broadband plan that Airtel has to offer.

As for the fool that came up with this idea of arm twisting customers to squeeze out a little more money from them. You just ended up losing every month, more than whatever it was that you were hoping to make this one time from me.”

Written by El Presidente

January 10, 2014 at 12:29 pm

Posted in ... the Indian way

Tagged with

Promoting clean fuels

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Increase that cost of autogas to Rs.55, when the product is commercially viable at less than half the cost … while subsidizing dirty diesel which sells at Rs.40 a litre.

Written by El Presidente

April 5, 2012 at 10:56 am

Posted in ... the Indian way

Tagged with ,

A toast to knowledge sharing in the connected world :)

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How what starts off as  this gets here and here and all these other places. While seemingly funny this can have quite dangerous consequences.

Written by El Presidente

March 25, 2012 at 10:44 pm

Posted in Society, Technology

Mindless entertainment anyone ?

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Rajapattai is an out and out director’s movie. His dominating and disastrous presence is felt in every single scene … and song … and dance. Whatever happened to the Suseenthiran of the “Naan Kadavul” fame? Why would he agree to direct a movie if his heart was not in it? It is quite obvious that the film has been made in the most cavalier and disinterested manner possible. There are so many “commercial” movies in Tamil cinema which are equally or even more mindless than Rajapattai, but one tends to believe that at least the makers of those movies took them seriously. NO ONE seems to have taken Rajapattai seriously. It is “time pass” purely for the sake of “time pass”.

When I think about it, I get this feeling that all these stalwarts of Tamil cinema decided to participate in a contest of who could hit absolute rock bottom in their own chosen fields.

So here are the scores for the “hit the abyss contest”:


For directing without direction – 8/10

For turning a hero into a clown – 10/10


For not asking Suseendran the very profound question that Vadivel put forth – ” Enna vechu comedy geemedy pannalaye?” – 9/10

For allowing himself to be dressed up in a zillion excellent costumes for absolutely no reason at all – 9/10

Deeksha Seth:

For taking the “south indians like fleshy women” theory literally and therefore choosing to sport a double chin – 8/10

Unfortunately we cannot score her on any other parameter since nothing much was expected of her other than being present, which she did commendably well.

Yuvan Shankar Raja:

For music that makes you wish you had fast forward buttons in movie theatres.  I cannot score him on this since I decided to sleep through the songs.

That kind of sums up the movie. The winner of course is Suseendran. He managed to pull off such a disaster of a movie in spite of pretty decent performances from K.Vishwanath and Mithra Kurian. Mithra Kurian is a brilliant actor and it shows. In fact she was the lone saving grace in an otherwise forgettable movie. Did I say the “lone saving grace”.

Maybe not. I forgot to mention that Suseendran managed to achieve something that even the best directors in Tamil cinema have consistently failed to do. He kept the audience glued to their seats till the fag end of the movie, even through the credits.

Yes my dear reader – the only other thing worthwhile watching in the movie is the inspired afterthought in the form of an item number by Shriya Saran and Reema Sen. No doubt it was totally unrelated to the movie, but then, when did we ever care about such trivialities.

Written by El Presidente

December 25, 2011 at 8:13 pm

Posted in Reviews

Tagged with , , ,


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“I can see it coming.”

He did not tell me what he saw coming. Maybe he did not know it himself. I doubt he was thinking clearly. He definitely was not speaking clearly. These were the only clear words in a stream of incoherent babbles.

This was not his normal self. Drunk, hair disheveled, he looked like a wreck. I realised he must have been drinking all night and I wondered if I should have come down when he had called me. I could have put a stop to the drinking at the very least.

He looked up with blood shot eyes. Was it my imagination? Could there be so many contrasting emotions tearing through a person’s soul at the same instant? I could see pain, self righteous anger and desperation.

The man in front of me was not the one I knew. Right up there among the top of the class, opening batsman of the state team, star elocutionist. It did not stop with college. Brand manager within a year of joining and hand picked to kick start operations in Africa. In fact there is nothing in common between us. A case of opposites come together. I had just been an average student and was not exactly setting corporate India on fire either. Yet our friendship had continued and only gotten stronger. It was but natural that he had looked to me when he wanted to be with someone.

I was trying hard to make sense of what he was saying. Finally through his babbling and swearing I managed to piece together the story that had been racking his conscience  for so many years now. Of the summer afternoon when the two families had gone out leaving behind little Lakshmi with him. They had known him as a responsible kid, and he was too. But something had gotten into him that day. It had started as a game, but had gone horribly wrong. She had been laughing when he had locked her up in the cupboard. Laughter soon turned into cries of fear that ended abruptly. It had all been over in a matter of minutes. But the nightmares that kept visiting him were always in excruciating slow motion. He would hear her cries and instinctively go for the door. But try as he could, his hands would refuse to move. And the cries would go on and on until he would wake up in a cold sweat.

“Just a kid”, he said. “Hardly five years old.”

A pregnant silence followed. I suppose I should have said something consoling. Told him how it was a mistake and that he should not blame himself for what happened. But I said nothing.  I was stunned, myself.

Am not a habitual drinker but I badly needed a drink now. I got up slowly to get a glass.

I could feel the raw alcohol burn my throat as I took my first sip. But it had its intended effect and I felt calmer. I tried to collect my thoughts and make sense of it all.


I don’t think he heard me consciously. He was too preoccupied putting down the drink that I had fixed for him. But something registered somewhere and he looked up at me. His eyes seemed blank, but I could imagine his alcohol numbed brain working hard to figure out what instinct already told him.

“She was six,” I said.

I had always wondered about it. Even at that young age I realised that something was amiss. It was not just what they told me but the way they did it. I was obvious that they were lying when they said that she had died of a heart problem.

They must have done that to protect him. They were decent people that way. Time heals and they moved on. But I guess I never did. Its been more than a decade now and I still miss her. My favourite cousin.  I had loved her like my own sister and she had adored me.

The kaleidoscope of emotions was on display again.  He looked confused for a few seconds. Slow comprehension finally set in and he gave me a piteous pleading look. Getting no response, he shrugged his shoulders in a resigned manner and reached out for his drink.

Maybe it was the odd taste that he now sensed. Or was it simply an instinct for survival that told him something was wrong? He abruptly spat out the liquid and looked up at me fearfully.

I nodded this time.

Death is no punishment if you don’t see it coming.

Written by El Presidente

December 25, 2011 at 2:42 pm

Posted in Fiction

Ban on plastic bags

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In a surprisingly environmental friendly move, the Tamilnadu government has banned the use of plastic carry bags made of virgin plastics or recycled plastics of less than 60 micron thickness and 8×12 inches size.

Hope the implementation is done with the same zeal as the announcement.

Written by El Presidente

June 15, 2011 at 7:40 am

The poor country that we live in …

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Samantha cannot handle Chennai’s hot summer. She will be spending two months in London, and some more time in Kerala before returning to Chennai. The guy next door is accompanying her too – after all a dog needs taking care of 😉

Written by El Presidente

June 13, 2011 at 6:33 pm

Posted in Society