Sunday, April 23, 2006

Copying...from Bangalore

I recently bought a book, Pinging from Bangalore by K.R. Chandrashekar. It's a "blog novel" (whatever that means) about "Basu" - a delivery manager at a software company; his overly stressed work life; his thoughts and ideas on arbitrary, yet important things such as language translation, Americans, the Iraq war, vultures, rocks and such; and Basu's diatribe on the software industry in general.

I didn't like it. Partly because it is the story of a manager whose only problems are a) intra company politics and b) inability to find people ("resources") for his customers' projects. I'll harp upon this in a different post.

Another thing I dislike: The book has appalling English, perhaps the worst I have read in print. I'm not saying mine is any better, but check this:

I went to the bathroom. Drank some water and was looking outside the window. Sun was rising slowly, triggering activities. People distributing milk and newspaper were seen going in their bicycles.

("Going in their bicycles"? I hope they didn't go on the newspapers..and milk!)

The book is littered with grammatical errors - it soon begins to get to you. Phrases like people at offsite are a put off - it means people in Bangalore, off-site from his customer in the U.S. But "at offsite" is just wrong. There is such a miserly approach to using "the" that Sun was rising slowly and Otherwise the moment US turns the tap of outsourcing... and so on.

But what's really disgusting is this: He has copied content shamelessly without giving proper credit. Throughout the book, Chandrashekar COPIES and PASTES text, largely unaltered, into the book. Sometimes he prefixes this with "A web page said", or "A survey reported" but follows that with the text of the web page verbatim.

This is wrong. This is blatant violation of copyright, and in a google-able time and age, very stupid. He does start the book with:

I acknowledge the material I have borrowed from the Internet news items, pieces of columns and articles.
Most of the material is from the following web sites:,,,,,,
Many thanks to:
  • The web sites
  • ...
Small mercies. The original authors of these articles would perhaps be enraged that they've been copied verbatim and acknowledged as part of a glorified thank you. That's like saying, "Thank you journalist world, I have copied some of your articles".

Note here: Quoting people means taking a small paragraph from their text, and giving them proper credit. If you take a whole page, you get the author's permission. If you make money from such copying, like Mr. Chandrashekar does by asking us to pay Rs. 200 for his gramatically flawed book, it is only fair that you share the profits with the authors.

What did he copy?
A helluva lot, but here's my initial set of findings:

[Note: He has, for some reason, changed some words, in some cases altering the meaning of the entire sentence.]

page 182 : a web page said: (etc.)

Copied from:
Author: Bob Herbert

"For all the talk of supporting the troops, they are a low priority for most Americans. If the nation really cared, the president would not be frolicking at his ranch for the entire month of August . He'd be back in Washington burning the midnight oil, trying to figure out how to get the troops out of the terrible fix he put them in."

Note: Text is slightly modified.
page 157-158 A web page said:
Copied from:
Author: Kenneth Chang

"The proponents of intelligent design, a school of thought that some have argued should be taught alongside evolution in the nation's schools, say that the complexity and diversity of life go beyond what evolution can explain....

Note: A lot of text is copied verbatim.

Subnote: Kenneth Chang's article says:
"One of the rules of science is, no miracles allowed," said Douglas H. Erwin, a paleobiologist at the Smithsonian Institution. "That's a fundamental presumption of what we do."

Erwin's statement is uncredited and changed to:

A scientist said, One of the rules of science and a fundamental presumption is, no miracles allowed

Note: When you quote someone, credit them! Why he doesn't like Chang or Erwin is beyond me.
page 160: A scientist declared:
Copied from:
Author: Cornelia Dean

"Belief in the supernatural, especially belief in God, is not only incompatible with good science, Dr. Hauptman declared, "this kind of belief is damaging to the well-being of the human race."

This statement declared by Herbert A. Hauptman, who shared the chemistry prize in 1985 for his work on the structure of crystals. "A scientist" indeed, but why not name him, Mr. Chandrashekar?

Further in that page:
"Most scientists, who do believe in god, believe in "a God who is behind the laws of nature but who is not intervening. "

comes from

"Most scientists he knows who do believe in God, he added, believe in "a God who is behind the laws of nature but who is not intervening."

"He" is "Steven Weinberg, a physicist at the University of Texas, a member of the academy and a winner of the Nobel Prize in 1979 for his work in particle physics." (from Cornelia Dean's Article)

I do not understand how Dr. Weinberg's statement can be twisted to mean "Most scientists, who do believe in God". It ticks me off - it is a completely different meaning. Dr. Weinberg talked about most god believing scientists he knew and Chandrashekar twisted it to mean most scientists believe in god. This book should be taken out and shot.
page 178
"nagasaki news item"
Author: Unknown, but referred in tons of pages online.

Chandrashekar offers no credit, but copies text shamelessly.
page 182
"By elementary moral standards, in both Iraq and Afghanistan the US and its "spear carrier", the UK should be paying enormous reparations for the atrocities they supported or carried out.They have the company of many other countries: the skewed moral standards of the self-designated “enlightened states”."

copied from:
"By elementary moral standards, in both Iraq and Afghanistan the US and the UK should be paying enormous reparations for the atrocities they supported or carried out directly, particularly since the 1980s — joined by others as well, notably Russia, but also France, Germany, and others: the list of criminals extends well beyond. That would be one simple way to increase the likelihood that the outcome will be more or less favorable. It is, of course, unthinkable, by the moral standards of the self-designated “enlightened states”."
Author: Anuj Chopra
Oh and he's not altogether bad. He gives credit to Amartya Sen, page 186. He also credits V.S. Naipaul (of whose book a page is lifted). What did the rest of the journalists do to you that they deserve no mention, Mr. Chandrashekar?
page 186
I said "the strength of the U.S. has been its extraordinary focus on productivity. And, ultimately, productivity is doing more things with less people. Here, you have an economy that makes and destroys millions of jobs a year. Outsourcing is simply more visible. A guy in the bay area loses his job, and somebody in Bangalore gets it. When you put a face to it, it's more emotional.

Copied from:
"But the strength of the U.S. has been its extraordinary focus on productivity. And, ultimately, productivity is doing more things with less people. Here, you have an economy that makes and destroys millions of jobs a year.Outsourcing is more visible. A guy in Detroit loses his job, and somebody in India gets it. When you put a face to it, it's more emotional. "
This statement was made by Nandan Nilekani when interviewed by Steve Hamm.
page 193
One editorial said"Hurricanes come in two waves. First comes the rainstorm, and then comes what the historian John Barry calls the "human storm" - the recriminations, the political conflict and the battle over compensation"
Author: David Brooks
page 196
"The fact of the matter is that terrorists, those who are intent on taking the lives of innocents (as in the dictionary, not an Islamist definition that ipso facto says a non-Muslim cannot be an innocent), should be treated as beyond the pale: they have forfeited all rights and all expectation of leniency."

(rest of the page also) and
Author: Rajeev Srinivasan
page 43
"Key to the vulture mortalities is a condition known as visceral gout."
And so on..
Asian Vulture Crisis-2002 Report - (28 Jul 03)
page 49-50-51
ends with:
" Unfortunately, many senior executives busy travelling the world, signing new deals and developing a vision for the company, have little idea of what may be going on at home. That deep within an organisation that otherwise does all the right things, one man could be driving its best people away"
Author: Simran Bhargava
This further quotes from "First break all the rules" - Marcus Buckingham,Curt Coffman.

That's just the first set. I'm willing to bet that I'm going to find twice this on a more detailed search. It's terribly disgusting that his web page contains no credits either.

Update 24/04/06
More juice:
Page 72:
"One serious misunderstanding amongst the elitist Indians has been their confused interpretation of secularism. The USA is a good nation with which to compare India in matters of secularism. USA does not define secularism as alienation from its traditions. Even though tracing back AMerican civilization to the Greeks is a big stretch, this link and continuity is emphasized. Certainly, the Judeo-Christian foundation of Americanism is made loud and clear."

copied from:

One serious misunderstanding amongst this milieu of elitist Indians has been their confused interpretation of secularism. The USA is a good nation with which to compare India in matters of secularism. It does
not define secularism as alienation from its traditions. Even though tracing back American civilization to the Greeks is a big stretch, this link and continuity is emphasized. Certainly, the Judeo-Christian foundation of Americanism is made loud and clear. "

Author: Rajiv Malhotra
Note: Nearly all of Rajiv's article is cut up and sentences juxtaposed in random order in pages 72 to 74. But the sentences are clearly lifted from Rajiv's article.
Update 25/04/06:
An anonymous commenter has said that perhaps I was being a bit too harsh. Perhaps I was. Perhaps I should have just said "I wish the author had acknowledged the authors", and left it at that.

But this is not just about acknowledgement, you must understand. This is about theft - he doesn't just QUOTE the authors, he copies ENTIRE ARTICLES. There's a difference.

Quoting is like taking a small part of a cake I made with a lot effort. I don't mind, because if you like it, you'll spread the word, and more people will come to eat my cakes and I'll get recognition and fame and money and whatever.

What Chandrashekar did is like taking the entire cake and pretending it is his own. (And saying "I got a cake from someone in Bangalore. Thanks, Bangalore")

If an author takes the time to research and write an article, re-reading and editing till she has done it right, that time is paid for partly by the money she earns, and partly by the recognition of her writing. The former provides a living, the latter ensures that living will be easier tomorrow.

When someone shamelessly copies this author verbatim, with minor text modifications, he is essentially taking away from both the money and recognition the original author worked hard to earn.

Chandrashekar has denied all the individual authors the recognition they deserve.

And in selling his book, Chandrashekar has earned money from this exercise. I'm willing to bet the authors don't get a naya paisa. That is cheating them out of what should rightfully be theirs, is it not?

Note: Some authors may not mind a complete lift, if they are duly credited. But then some may not. And you simply cannot lift verbatim and not provide credit.

On another note, Kaavya Viswanathan was exposed by Harvard Crimson recently for copying content from Megan F. McCafferty's novels. The copied text may seem inconsequential - it does, at first sight - but it is blatant copying. She is being called a cheat, an embarrassment to Harvard and a frauster. The literary scandal d'jour?

Like Oliver says:
On that note, what is even more astounding is that Viswanathan - or anyone - would want to plagiarize prose so banal to begin with. No offense to McCafferty but I'm pretty sure her two novels were not in the running for the Pulitzer. Viswanathan couldn't come up with anything better than this on her own: " “Sabrina was the brainy Angel. Yet another example of how every girl had to be one or the other: Pretty or smart."
Update 2 May 2006:
The author has now acknowledged sources on his web site. This is commendable, as a first step. I still feel that copying stuff verbatim is wrong - the author should either quote or rephrase.

Note: Still not credited: Anuj Chopra.

Voice your opinion
You can Write to K.R.Chandrashekar. This is worse than blopycats. This is theft.

Saturday, April 22, 2006

itni si jaan...

...aur itna gussa?

(That's one of my all time favourite dialogues that I have always wanted to say in real life, along with "Mahurat ka waqt nikla jaa raha hai". I have successfully used the latter in my brother-in-law's wedding )

So the itna gussa part is Shruti telling "outsiders" to what I think is "put up or shut up". That's not actually correct - she should have addressed it to those people who incessantly complain about Bangalore's infrastructure and blame it on Kannadigas. Yeah, you know who you are, you assholes.

I'm what you might call a pseudo-kannadiga. Born in Tirthahalli, Shimoga. Lived 15 years of my (now) 31 in the north of India or abroad. Have never learnt kannada formally, but I can talk the kannada and walk the kannada. Mother tongue: Konkani. Am I a kannadiga? Or an outsider? I don't know. And frankly, I don't give a fuck.

But what I am pissed about is three things:

1) People who say that kannadigas are pricks. Because:
a) Kannadigas expect you to speak in Kannada to them. Not all, but the few that do piss them off. Because Hindi is the bloody national language and we will speak it, and you must reply to us in it. You're in Bengaluru, dude: ninna ajjina keya. Very carefully, take your head out of the hole you are in, and listen: You don't want to talk or learn the local language, then you'll get hostile treatment once in a while. You can live with it - heck, hundreds of tourists do, in Bangalore, France, Norway, Britain, wherever - or you can wither away and die. Anything else is unacceptable.

And Hindi is not *the* national language. It's one of the many, and Kannada ranks equally. Don't give me the bull crap that it's the most widely spoken. It's not in the south, and that's where you are, deal with it.

b) Kannadigas are violent bastards. They quote the Raj Kumar death riots. I'll say this: the guys who rioted *are* pricks. Whether he was a great man or not, his fan club has a lot of anti social elements who will take any opportunity to throw stones or the kannadiga card. But by and large, kannadigas are peaceful, which is why everyone in bangalore does not carry a knife or a gun for self defense. Note that rowdies exist everywhere: Bal Thackeray's crazy fan following and Indira Gandhi's death riots show that latitude is no barrier to insanity.

2) Kannadigas who think "outsiders" are pricks. These are other kinds of xenophobic idiots. They are angry because:

a) There's too much traffic. There was always too much traffic, somewhere or the other. City market was crowded, then Chikpet, Avenue Road and KG Road were crowded, then Shivajinagar (Russell market) was crowded, and now everywhere is crowded. You can't blame this on "outsiders" - even in the past (read, from independence), Bangalore has been dominated by people not from the city - the Coorgis, the Bunts, the Tamilians, the Gults and the Marvadis.

b) Outsiders have raised prices to untenable levels: Yes, this has happened in cases of household help. It's a booming city, and this will happen - with scarcity, prices go up. Yet, you get benefits - your houses and plots are now worth 100 times what you paid for them. Your children drive fancy cars from their fat pay packages at MNCs. Your club memberships at Rs. 5,000 bought in 1980 give you good food and alcohol at phenomenally low prices - memberships that "outsiders" have to pay an absolute bomb for.

The increase in prices has resulted in a general increase in the quality and standard of Bangalorean living. You can now get cheaper food, delivered home in nice packages. You can eat after 9 PM (folks living here in the 80's will understand). You can get affordable prefab furniture and kitchenware. Jobs don't need "sifaarish" or "salpa heLkodri".

But yes, if you have retired, it's not the nicest place to be. Bangalore was a retirement paradise; not any longer. I say if you want to retire in peace, choose a smaller, less vibrant town. No one wants to retire in New York. Florida's been the choice for a reason. (I generalise with "no one" but you get what I mean)

c) Outsiders "expect" too much:This is a pet peeve. Dudes and Dudettes: get the facts straight. Bangalore's infrastructure is appalling. It has always been appalling, but because too few people cared, it got ignored. People who live now do care, and so should you kannadigas. It's not "outsiders" who caused phenomenal damage to 80 feet road in Koramangala. It is your own politicians.

It's not outsiders' fault that some of you chose to land-grab the storm water drains areas and build your houses on it, and now there's flooding.

It's not your fault either. If the outsiders blame *you*, spit on them. But when you blame the outsiders, expect they will spit on you.

3) Companies that cry about infrastructure: they have a right to, yes. But they should participate also, no? There is such a poor response to BMP's infrastructure project requrests for private participation - private companies don't even want to do seven footpaths! Why should only the builders - Prestige, Purvankara etc. - do this sort of work? Can't a company like Wipro, or Infosys or Biocon do it? Or any of the tens of hundreds of MNCs?

They pay no tax. Yes, their employees do - but that goes to the centre. If you think that's a lot of money consider this: if 5 lakh people (in the IT/BT/BPO industries) pay an average tax of Rs. 20,000 per year, the total tax collected is only Rs. 1,000 crore. That means the whole "new" industry in Bangalore pays less tax than HALF of Infosys' annual net profit (2800 crores).

Read that carefully. One company's net profits are more than double the tax paid by all the IT denizens of bangalore. If Infosys was taxed at corporate rate (35%) that means Bangalore would get Rs. 980 crores as tax, which can be used for infrastructure. ONE company's tax can pay for 100 flyovers. For 200 km of roads. I suggest we tax all Bangalore companies at just 10% - that will give you TONS of money - more than Rs. 10,000 crores.

Infosys is an exception -they have paid for roads, flyovers, traffic lights and such. The public sector biggies have done their bit too - BEL, BHEL and all. But my complaint is against the rest - IBM, Accenture, Wipro, TCS etc.

These companies won't give a paltry 1 crore or so for footpaths. Cheapskate miserable whiners.

Okay so that's my pissed-off at people sandbox speech.

Read less aggressive views here.

Friday, April 21, 2006

Enter the blopycats

There's a new face in blog-town. Blopycats, as I choose to call those that will shamelessly purloin content from the web and paste them on their own blog. They refuse to give credit - no, that would be terrible - and sometimes, when the conscience pricks, will change a few words "here and there". The sun is always shining becomes Shining always, is the sun. Or even Always the sun is shining.

They don't mind that the language is inconsistent, or that deleting punctuation could cause severe grammatic damage. Or that the original author spent a lot of time phrasing the very sentences that were heartlessly "blagiarized". And later, they will shed a tear or wipe their harried brow when they receive applause for their "wonderful post".

Blopying isn't "new": it's existed ever since someone invented Copy+Paste. The idea is simple: Visit a web page; Look left and right; nobody's watching; Copy and Paste the content to blog; Close the original web page. Sounds suspiciously similar to someone stealing something? It is, as per this link. (thanks to Madman and Amit Verma)

Now for some egg-samples.

The Blopiers, and their Blopy-rating:

1) Anushka : This one seems to have copied from a TON of sites; Read more at Shilpa Bhatnagar's blog.
Copied from:
Shilpa Bhatnagar (blopy)
Dr. Ahmed Adam (blopy)
Michael Millet (blopy)
Makarand Paranjape (blopy)
Lots of people Link1 (blopy), Link2 (blopy)
Yash Sehgal (blopy)

Blopy-rating: Dirty Disgusting Stinking Rat. Defends her copying by deleting comments questioning her, does some ridiculous counter posturing by saying she'll sue. It's more su-su than anything else.

2) Rahul Mishra: Copied from Anuradha Ganapathy. Read about it here.
Copied from:
Anuradha Ganapathy (blopy)
A lot more, it seems. Help!

Blopy-rating: Stinking Rat. Could be Ignorance but has been warned and still keeps the posts there.

3) Rohan Pinto: Was "outed" by MadMan and Amit Verma. Full story is here.

Blopy-rating: Ignoranus. Yep, google for it.

The Outing tools
Darn good tool; enter your URL and check for copies. Nobody copied me. Or they did but copy-escaped. Ha.
Gimme more.

I will soon come out with another plagiarizer post. I's done some research and this is worse than disgusting scum because he makes you pay for it. Asshole.

Wednesday, April 12, 2006

Real Estate Cash Flow Calculator

Okay, this might sound terribly advertisingish.

I've written a "Real Estate Cash Flow Calculator" for Indian Real Estate Investors, and it shows why real estate investments in India do not generate positive cash flow for a long time.

Oh yes, and you can download it too (link in the article).

Read the article, and send me comments on my Investor Blog entry.

Sorry for cross posting it here. My first real article on and I'm feeling good.