December 23, 2005

India : The Enemy Within

The Constitution of India has been mutilated once again. This is the 104th time it has been done in the past 50 odd years and the purported reason is social equality. Reservations have been extented to private, unaided educational institutions. And who has done this ? People who, just a week before, have been caught red-handed on camera accepting bribes to 'act honourably' in their chosen profession. With custodians like this who needs enemies ?

We have heard of the enemy in Pakistan, in China, in SriLanka, in Burma, in Bangladesh, in the USA, in the WTO ... we have also heard of commercial enemies that apparently trouble our commercial enterprises .. who outsell us in garments, in tea, in computer services ... we have heard of foreign trade unions demanding ban, or restrictions, on Indian programmers and we have heard of foreign trade bodies that seek to ban exports of Indian shrimps or put tariff barriers on Indian products.

These are enemies we recognise and know how to deal with. It must have bee Lao Tzu who said that 'if you know your enemy, you win half the battle'. So very correct. The battle that the global fights with these external enemies is fair battle, or at least as fair things can be in things like love and war !

But are they our real enemies ? They are not. The enemy is NOT at the gates, they are in our heart, at the core. Look at my post on CHAIPANI ... as I do not wish to repeat myself again. This is the real enemy .. the corruption, the hypocrisy, the incompetence ..

The Noble Amartya Sen ( may his tribe DECREASE ) believes that democracy is the solution of all problems. I beg to differ and differ very strongly. The ascent of man, and to the extent that it mirrors the evolution of sentient intelligence, is a product of darwinian selection possibly helped by dollops of good luck. At the risk of sounding cliched, I would like to (re)state that survival of the fittest : and that is true for individuals, organisations, commercial enterprises, societies, species, genes and the genome itself. There is no alternative to merit and elitism. Success cannot be mandated at least not for too long. Nor can it come across through parliamentary dialogue.

And that is where the 104th Constitution Mutilation Bill/Act falls flat on its face. By striking at the very roots of meritocracy it has shown once again that while Global India has its head in the clouds, its feet are very much rooted in the clay ... and this clay is teeming with parasites like roundworms, tapeworms and their like ... waiting to burrow into the soles of the feet and then into the soul of the nation itself.

December 07, 2005

Calling the Bombay Film Industry to create MMORPG

Why am I obsessed with MMORPGs ? Because I firmly believe that MMORPG genre is the next big killer application of the same order of significance of Spreadsheets ( Visicalc and Lotus123 ... that took computers to every office desk ) and the Web Browser ( Mosaic / Netscape .. that drove computers into every home).

An MMORPG is infinitely more fun ( despite sneers from the high-brow crowd) than the usual computer game because of the presence of real, 'intelligent' human beings on the other end. Actually it is less of a game and more of a community where you learn to find your way around a new world, much like what travellers have to do in a strange new country. The immediacy of virtual environment and the extreme richness that is possible is mind boggling.

However building such a game is no child's play. You need complex game engines that deliver AI capabilities and then you have to add (a) graphics and (b) a compelling storyline. It is so expensive to build a game that it was possible ONLY for big corporations to get going.

But all this is ( or should ) change soon.

Multiverse is a very interesting site that helps you to build such a game with a ( relatively speaking !) very low investment. Strangely enough it is a free site and gives you all the tools that you need, PLUS the hosting servers etc, with which one can build a full fledged MMORPG game !! They have a sound economic model that is both fair and should be sustainable as well.

This is a huge opportunity for game developers in India. Thanks to the burgeoning film industry at Mumbai, Calcutta & Chennai ( I hate the pejorative and imitative term ... Bollywood ) there is no dearth of creative talent in this country. Why can some TV production houses not tie with creative elements and some computer programmers to kick start the process.

Let us hope that very soon, we will have companies of the size and visibility of Infosys, Wipro and TCS in this area.