The makeshift SunFunder India HQ office

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Spent the last month in Africa visiting our partners and seeing SunFunder’s impact on the ground (that will be a long exhaustive blog post of it’s own). Enroute to India, developed an abscess in my hand that required urgent surgery under general anesthesia. Spent the last 4 days recovering from the African infection in a hospital in India which gradually became my makeshift office. Infected hand in upright sling, other hand on IV, surprised at how much I could get done with just one hand in the otherwise peaceful setting. Doctors are still figuring out the right antibiotics since nothing has worked (well I did go to some crazy remote places in Africa$. But in safe hands and hope to be out in time.

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And yes, I am getting enough rest, just had to prep for the New Ventures Investor Forum where I present at a session moderated by the awesome Niki Armacost. Glad to be in India as we plan to launch our first few projects here and look forward to meeting all the awesome people here.

Art of Kissing: Invented in India

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This special video on YouTube explores the history of how kissing originated and spread across the world. I had no idea that the earliest recorded history of anything even remotely close to kissing was thousands of years ago in India. An interesting watch. Almost makes the case that kissing is not as much an innate primal instinct as it is an acquired social norm. It’s also funny that the modern day India, that I grew up in, shuns this act and is not publicly permissible. In fact, some organizations in India would have us believe that it is a western attack on Indian morality.

Crane crash in Andheri

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A crane of the Metro project toppled over, falling on the road and crushed an auto-rickshaw killing two people on the spot. I was at the Bhavan’s A.H. Wadia High school, overlooking the complete crash site and had a clear view of the site. Part of the school compound wall was also broken by the crane’s tip.

Complete view

All pictures with full versions here: http://flickr.com/photos/sameerhalai/sets/72157605048202588/

Smriti Irani leaves "Saas Bhi Kabhi Bahu Thi"

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This is major! Probably old news by now but it’s interesting to know that Tulsi Virani is no more! And it’s very interesting in how they end her:

Tulsi tries to escape from the tunnel, but is not successful as the doctors capture her. Tulsi again makes a valiant attempt to escape from the asylum, she poses as a dead body ready to be taken to the cremation ground? Lady Luck smiles on Tulsi as she gets into a truck, but will this same good fortune end up being her last journey? It seems so, as the driver driving the truck is totally drunk and this proves fatal, as the truck goes down in a valley and blasts..
Burnt parts of the truck and burnt bodies are recovered from the valley. The Doctors find Tulsi?s asylum tag near the accident spot and call Tanya to give the Virani household, this sad news. The three bahu?s enter the accident scene and are horrified to see the burnt remains of Tulsi. They decide to complete the last rites in Omkarnath and this marks the end of Tulsi?s existence in this Flagship serial of Ekta.

[via India Forum]

A new paradigm: Social Investigation through Social Networks

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Disclaimer: This post makes a reference to the death of a young girl in Mumbai. I never knew her but I wish that her soul rests in peace and I really hope her murderer is found and duly punished. However, this post is about the interesting phenomenon of ‘social investigation’ I have observed around this ‘incident’ (if I may call it so).

The Incident:

A 24-year-old Tata Consultancy Services engineer was found dead on Monday morning in a hotel room in Andheri, where she had checked in with a male companion on Saturday.
Koushambi Layek, a systems consultant with TCS, was found dead in room number 202 of Hotel Sun-n-Sheel in Andheri (East) when the hotel staff opened the door with a duplicate key after their repeated calls on the intercom went unanswered. She was found lying on the bed soaked in blood with two bullets wounds.

[Indian Express]

The reaction:
She belonged to a cohort which is very active on Orkut and this incident is being heavily discussed online. Her scrapbook is being filled with messages of peace and condolences and rage for the murderer. Communities have been created to discuss this incident and make sure the message and investigation stays alive until justice is done.

Social Investigation:
Interestingly, her friends have launched a social investigation around this incident. The accused is also active on Orkut. His scrapbook and posts made by him are being actively scanned for pieces of evidence linking him to the crime. They have already found quite some interesting bits of information:
Social Investigation on Orkut
The above post shows how they found the accused individual frantically requesting phone number of another individual which has raised doubts about the potential involvement of someone else. The police too has been actively monitoring these communities to find interesting or implicating evidence.

Remarks:
Can this information be used as hard-evidence? Does this incident highlight how social investigation can possibly help law enforcement in the future? It surely highlights the importance of scanning social networking sites in addition to emails and web-access records to gather evidence. Is it harmful for investigation proceedings and speculations to be publicly available like this? As our lives become more public through these social networking websites, we probably want to reflect on what information about us people may get at in the future and whether we are comfortable having our information available in ways we do not foresee today.

President of India: Get Kalam Back

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If you are happy with the wonderful term President Kalam served, you can vote for him to be elected back for another term. I am not sure how influential these votes will be, but there is no harm in voting(?). I do not know Pramodh Mysore, who seems to be running this website; for all I know, he’s a smart Indian using this as an opportunity to mass-collect email addresses :). But well, I would like to see if online voting can somehow be influential in the normal democratic process we have. So go over to the site and vote!
President of India
Note to citizens of other countries: India uses the parliamentary model of democracy where the Prime Minister is the main executive in the Government. The President mainly presides and has limited powers but is an influential figure nonetheless.