Book Review – “Private India” by Ashwin Sanghi & James Patterson

What happens when two authors from different genre’s & from different parts of the world team-up & come up with a book ? Well, the result would be an interesting mix of their individual strengths, story-telling would definitely be a “treat to the readers” !!!

“Private India” by Ashwin Sanghi and James Patterson is one such book. James Patterson is the best-selling author behind the critically acclaimed & best selling “Private” Series [Private L.A, Private Berlin etc. to name a few].

PrivateIndia

About the Author

Ashwin Sanghi is counted among India’s highest-selling English fiction authors. He is best known for this bestsellers – The Rozabal Line, Chanakya’s Rant & The Krishna KeyAll his books have been based on historical, theological and mythological themes.[1] He is one of India’s best-selling conspiracy fiction writers and is an author of the new era of retelling Indian history or mythology in a contemporary context [More about Ashwin Sanghi here]

James Patterson is an American author who is largely known for his novels about fictional psychologist Alex Cross, the protagonist of the Alex Cross series. He has written many other number one bestsellers including romance novels & stand-alone thrillers [More about James Patterson here]

Detailed Review

The story starts off with a sequence of murders in Mumbai [none of them are related to each other] with unfortunate local bombings. A murder happens in a resort which is managed by a private agency named “Private India”. Private India is headed by an ex-cop, Santosh Wagh who is the director of the private agency.

Santosh Wagh’s team comprises of a bunch of “officers” who have the capability to crack any case; no matter how complex that case may be !!! There are a series of murders & in each murder, an evidence is left at the crime scene [whether it help's Santosh Wagh and this team to crack the case is revealed in due course.... mystery is definitely kept intact :)] 

The number of murder’s keep increasing & there are other issues like God-men, Politics, Corruption etc. are also coupled with the murders [doesn't this remind us of Singham Returns :)]. Some aspects of Indian mythology have also been clubbed with the murder scenes; especially sacred feminine. Just like any other Bollywood masala movie, this book packs all of it. At every point, the reader can visualize the murder & this is the main plus of the story since, it keep’s the reader thinking.

Closing Thoughts

The book provides an “Edge Of the Seat” thriller experience & the “Plot” creates this experience !!! This is the first time we reviewed a book of this genre on our blog & we really enjoyed the “murderous” journey :) At around 450 pages, “Private India” is a breezy read, the credit goes to the big font-size used in the book &  “effective story-telling”.

Final Verdict : 3/5

Buy “Private India” from Flipkart by clicking the below link

Thanks to Blogadda for sending us the review copy of this book :) This review is a part of the biggest Book Review Program for Indian Bloggers. Participate now to get free books !!!

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Blast Your Messages via Bhash SMS’ Bulk SMS Service

India has more than 400 Million Mobile subscribers. These mobile subscribers are growing at a high rate of about 10 million new subscribers every month. To meet all the business & individual’s marketing needs as well as the personal demand, Bhash SMS has created many Bulk SMS packages that are ranging in different affordable price ranges.

BashSMS

All the cheap bulk SMS packs are given on the Bhash SMS website. They are available for everyone & there is absolutely no restriction on the availability that is depending on the customer status. All these packs have been categorized according to the general usage pattern of most clients that has been noticed in last few years.

The solution of the Bhash SMS bulk SMS reseller in India is unique. This is because unlike the other Bulk SMS service providers in the market who provide you with very cheap SMS, the Bhash SMS bulk SMS service also provides you with instant delivery reports for all the Bulk SMS that you have sent at any time. Bhash SMS gateway reseller also provides you with bulk SMS software that you can use for your desktop as well as excel which you can use for sending all the Bulk SMS directly from your excel sheet. Bhash SMS bulk SMS online also helps you to integrate the SMS service with any of your business software to send bulk SMS.

The cheap Bulk SMS packs from Bhash SMS service is also 100% compliant with all the regulations of TRAI’s NDNC & NCCP. The reason for this is because Bhash SMS bulk SMS packages filter 100% of all the numbers that are listed on the “Do Not Disturb” Services before sending your Bulk SMS. This further ensures that none of the parties have to face the consequences of the bulk SMS Marketing.

The Bhash SMS reseller in India also provides guaranteed delivery on all the valid numbers without cheating the customers which most of the other cheap bulk SMS providers do whereby they only provide delivery to just 20% of the messages out of the total. Now you can also easily send bulk SMS to all of the numbers that are stored in your phone book directly from your mobile phone with the help of the unique SMS gateway reseller Bhash SMS.

The API code feature of Bhash SMS bulk SMS online also helps you to send all the messages to your phone book numbers without even the slightest need to visit the Bhash SMS website. This is extremely useful for all the people or the businesses that are always on the move but who also need to send out all the business SMS to their clients or their customers by using the bulk SMS gateway medium. You can now also save on all the costs of sending bulk SMS that you send from your mobile phone by just using the Bhash SMS cheap bulk SMS pack.

Do give Bhash SMS a spin and let us know your feedback :)

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Pitney Bowes Accelerator Program names eight Startups to incubate in India

Pitney Bowes has named eight start-up companies in India who will join Pitney Bowes Accelerator program in India. The program is a part of the NASSCOM’s 10,000 Start-ups initiative.

The eight start-ups selected for the program are:

  1. RetailNav : Solution for retail shopping with unique in-store location-based analytics.
  2. Audianz : Location-based advertising platform.
  3. Heuristics : GPS-based vehicle tracking system [VTS] and mobile-based personnel tracking solutions.
  4. Yo-app : App that integrates social circles with a discovery platform.
  5. Ideata Analytics : Integrated data intelligence platform to help users perform information discovery.
  6. Teritree  : Customer experience management platform.
  7. BrownTape : Single-click multi-platform solution for e-commerce management.
  8. Tagalys :  Solution that provides intelligent heuristic search.

More about the program

The program focuses on start-ups that leverage software for mobile, data analytics, location-based services, and e-commerce management.

Selected start-ups will have access to Pitney Bowes’ software, Application Programming Interfaces (API’s) & data for the duration of the program. Training, technical and business guidance and mentoring will be provided to the start-ups from Pitney Bowes engineering and innovation leaders & from software industry experts.

In addition to these strategic connections, start-ups in the Pitney Bowes Accelerator program will also be networking with prospective investors.

You can find more about Pitney Bowes & their accelerator program here & here.

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Deshpande Foundation and Microsoft Ventures partner to launch Sandbox Startups

Deshpande Foundation and Microsoft Ventures,India announced a partnership to launch Sandbox Startups, an incubator focused on nurturing startups in tier-II & tier-III cities of India. The three-year collaboration was formalized with the signing of the Memorandum of Understanding [MOU] on August 23, in the presence of Dr Gururaj ‘Desh’ Deshpande [Founder, Deshpande Foundation], Mr Jairam Ramesh [Former Minister, Government of India], Mr Rajinish Menon [Director, Microsoft Ventures in India], Mr Naveen Jha [CEO, Deshpande Foundation] & other industry leaders.

As per their Press Release, the main reason for co-launching this initiative as per Naveen Jha [CEO, Deshpande Foundation] is below:

Unlike tier-I cities, most small cities lack adequate support system to nurture startups. Consequently, startups and startup potentials in these regions do not have access to requisite training, mentoring and a sandbag to try out their entrepreneurial stints. Sandbox Startups is aimed at providing a launch pad for aspiring entrepreneurs in tier-II & tier-III cities so that they can validate their business ideas, sharpen business acumen, develop products & launch solutions to the market.

 

Innovations by startups groomed under the program will add vibrancy to the ecosystem from those at the bottom of the pyramid.

 

The objective of this partnership is to work in an inclusive manner to ensure that all relevant stakeholders, such as early stage entrepreneurs, academia, students, venture capital community, mentors, advisors, HNI’s & corporates, are active participants in the innovation ecosystem.

Support for entrepreneurs in Tier-II & Tier-II cities

Rajinish Menon [Director, Microsoft Ventures in India] mentions that such an initiative was the need of the hour.

As the culture of innovation spreads, it’s fascinating to see the kind of problems that startups from smaller towns are trying to solve. Microsoft Venture’s partnership with Deshpande Foundation aims to engage with entrepreneurs from smaller towns at every stage of their journey from ideation to maturity.

 

At Microsoft, we are extremely excited to help incubators roll out products and raise capital to fund their growth, eventually benefiting India’s budding entrepreneurial ecosystem. And this specific endeavor is aimed at entrepreneurs from smaller towns which have a less mature ecosystem to nurture them.

 

Startups can call Microsoft’s Jumpstart hotline on 1800 200 2114 to know more about the program and how to be a part of this program.

About the Partnership

Deshpande Foundation in India actively nurtures innovation and entrepreneurship through various programs in its three sandbox regions – North Karnataka, Nizamabad in Telangana & Uttar Pradesh.

Partnering with Microsoft Ventures is a key step to support and nurture incubators, moving them to the next level by providing them an opportunity to get exposed to high end technology, get trained & mentored by professionals.

Both Microsoft Ventures and Deshpande Foundation will play a significant role to mentor the startups under this incubator.

Please visit Microsoft Ventures, India & Deshpande Foundation for any further information or leave a comment and we would get it clarified from the Microsoft Ventures team.

Image Credit : Deshpande Foundation & Microsoft

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Book Review – Ramayana : The Game of Life: Rise of the Sun Prince

I am sure that most us would have watched [if not read] the Ramayana that used to be tele-casted on Doordarshan. I used to thoroughly enjoy it but for some reason I could not strike a cord with mythology as it was not my cup of tea !!! So how can someone re-tell the age-old Ramayana in a tone that co-relates to the modern era & still does not dilute it’s core i.e. learning’s we get from the great epic  ??

The book “Ramayana : The Game of Life: Rise of the Sun Prince” by Shubha Vilas is one such commendable attempt to re-tell the Ramayana for Modern Audiences.

Ramayana : The Game of Life: Rise of the Sun Prince

About the Author

Shubha Vilas is a motivational speaker, spiritual seeker with B.E in “Electronics & Telecommunications” and L.L.B specializing in Patent Law. You can find more about him here

Detailed Review

This is the first part [Bala Kanda] of the six book series that Shubha Vilas has come up with & takes us through the divine story of Lord Rama from his birth up-to his marriage. The narrative closely follows Valmiki’s Ramayana, gently weaving in the folk tales as well as the beautiful analogies of the Kamba Ramayana.

The narrative throws fresh perspective on how Valimiki came up with the Ramayana, insights into Ayodhya, Lord Rama’s life, His relation with Sita, tales of Dasaratha‘s leadership, Dasaratha’s 353 wives, Vishwamitra‘s quest for power, origination of the island Lanka, Life of Ravana & intriguing story of a little-known stone maiden. Well, the list goes on, as the book details into each & every aspect of the Ramayana.

The author had to make sure that the reader finds the story interesting [and can co-relate to it] else it would have been “Me-Too” book on the epic. Shubha Vilas has succeeded in that task where each page is followed with foot-notes where he connects the content [from Ramayana] with real-life traits i.e. Leadership, Mentorship, Greed, Spirituality etc.

Honestly, for readers [including myself] who have less idea about the Ramayana, the footnotes added as “catalyst” that generated interest & gave us handy-tips on how we can apply the age-old principles of Ramayana in our day-to-day lives !!!

Key Takeaways

As mentioned earlier, each page has some “key” learning from it & that in our opinion is the highlight of the book. Some of the interesting excerpts from the book are mentioned below:

Mentorship, Failing & Learning

An advisor is like an able doctor who does not prescribe before diagnosing the disease. To lament from one’s mistakes is important, but far more important is to learn from that mistake. To make mistakes does not imply lack of intelligence but a lack of foresight. Not repeating mistakes is a sign of intelligence.

Building an Effective System

King Dasaratha’s brilliance & foresight could be gauged from the way he made systematic arrangements to make the kingdom self-sufficient. Ayodhya had two type’s of water-storage systems – Devamatraka i.e. entirely dependent on rains sent by demigods & other nadimatraka i.e. dependent on effective water storage systems. Ayodhya depended on nadimatraka system which facilitated rain water harvesting to ensure abundant water supply. Today’s society adopts the nadimatraka system of irrigation which is heavily dependent on rains.

Leadership Traits

Foresight is the hallmark of a leader; it enables a leader to build effective systems. The leader’s quality lies not just in building such systems but also in ensuring effective functioning of those systems. An interesting type of leadership is “servant leadership”, where the leader feels that being anointed leader is a gift to serve more people. Such a leader finds every opportunity to serve as God sent. Dasaratha had created a flawless system but when it was not as effective as anticipated, he considered it as his responsibility to rectify it at any cost, even at the cost of his life !!!

For a leader, four things are essential – physical strength, intellectual strength, emotional strength & spiritual strength. Physical strength is acquired by having a powerful army; intellectual strength by studying the scriptures and being guided by a wise counsel; emotional strength by being kind, generous and sensitive towards the weaker; and spiritual strength by taking some time off from the worldly pursuits to pursue one’s goal in life and taking refuge in higher powers.

A good leader knows the “Art Of Delegation“; in addition he delegates himself the most demanding role, that of being an inspiration.

Teamwork

Dasaratha’s leadership model

Dasaratha’s strength was his Big M – a council of ministers [mantri's or mentors] carefully chosen by him. He had eight ministers – Drishti, Jayantha, Vijaya, Suraashtra, Raashtravardhana, Akopa, Dharmapaala & Sumantra. These eight ministers were men of pure mind & great integrity.

Their love for their country and it’s people, along with their loyalty to the kind, encouraged them to use their foresight in devising policies and plans to help their country progress. Their words completed their actions.

Tangible & Intangible assets

Success is to follow a leader if he can create tangible as well as intangible assets. Tangible assets are essentially his abundant treasury and an unconquerable army. Intangible assets include the confidence of people in the leader’s power and ability.

It is the intangible asset that is the soul of leadership, which leads to loyalty and unquestioned co-operation. To capitalize on the tangible and intangible assets effectively, the leader has to depend on a third type of asset, known as “Big M” [Ministers, Mentors & Mantri's of the king]

Be in “Better than yourself” company

However great an individual may be, it is impossible to achieve any kind of success alone. Those who do not believe in a team are afflicted by the disease of Insecurity. Deep insecurity about working with those stronger than themselves stems from the fear of being over-shadowed. Such people surround themselves with weaker people. When one dreams of a big goal, the team one chooses must be bigger then the dreams envisioned. Else, it would only remain a dream. Surely, you could co-relate this to the “Art of Recruiting” by Guy Kawasaki :)

Law of “Dependence”

Rather than being engaged in one-upmanship, one should focus on how combined strength can enhance individual capabilities. When one engages in competition, it results in destruction of the other & one becomes oblivious to the pain of the other.

Capitalizing on mutual strengths leads to success. The law of dependence states that one’s real strength lies in realizing the strength of another. Dependence releases one from the burden of being an exclusive controller & leads to the freedom of accepting higher powers to realize one’s goal.

Taking shelter in one’s own strength leads to taking pride in being the controller. By being amiable enough to depend on others strength, one can focus on achieving the goal. Vishvamitra realized that for so long he had exclusively depended on his own strength. He learnt his law of dependence from his mother Kaushalya.

Guided intelligence leads to the right direction. Personal choices have to be sacrificed at the altar for the good of the whole.

Closing Thoughts

Rise of the Sun Prince is very interesting take on the Ramayana. At 252 pages, it is an good read & definitely there are learnings in it for everyone i.e. be it leader, mentor, entrepreneur, teacher or any other individual…

We complete this review with the following thoughts from the author Shubha Vilas

Rise of the Sun Prince reveals to us the range of principles that underline the healthy relationships in our lives – between parents & children, between husband & wife, between brothers, between a leader & his followers, between a teacher and his/her students.

The Ramayana is not a book; it a way of life !!!

Thanks to Blogadda for sending us the review copy of this book :) This review is a part of the biggest Book Review Program for Indian Bloggers. Participate now to get free books !!!

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Citrix Startup Accelerator Innovator’s Program

The Citrix Startup Accelerator Innovators Program is launching in Bangalore. The focus of the Innovators Program is on accelerating business solutions & openly sharing approaches that have been integral to Citrix innovation.

The three-month residency at key locations around the world, cultivates breakthrough mobile, cloud & collaboration technologies by leveraging the expertise of Citrix and key corporate council members.

The Innovators Program successfully concluded in Silicon Valley last month & is now scaling globally.

citrix-logo

About the program

Twelve teams will be selected to receive support, in-depth training and a workspace at the Citrix Bangalore office. The modern space includes high tech meeting rooms and workstations and is a fitting place to design the revolutionary mobile work-style technologies of the future.

The Program blends leading-edge collaboration, design thinking and lean startup approaches. Innovation teams will learn to develop & bring to market business technology offerings that focus on user needs and helping people work better. Nascent entrepreneurial teams will learn alongside new corporate product teams, and will also receive seed funding.

Participants will receive mentoring & guidance from seasoned business executives, industry leaders and venture capital investors. Citrix will partner with the NASSCOM 10K team on the program.

How to apply

The Citrix Startup Accelerator Innovators Program is looking for great teams ready to test their business model. Applications for the program are now open.

Selected teams will be revealed at the NASSCOM Product Conclave on October 30, 2014.

For more information

Please visit Citrix Innovator’s Program to learn more about the program & how to apply.

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Accelerator Program : Fintech Innovation Lab Asia-Pacific

Applications are now open for financial tech start-ups to apply to an accelerator program backed by a group of 10 leading financial institutions & Accenture.

About the program

Companies selected in the Asia-Pacific-wide competitive search for the region’s top financial technology innovators will participate in the FinTech Innovation Lab Asia-Pacific, a 12-week program that helps early- and growth-stage financial technology innovators accelerate product development and gain exposure to top-level financial industry executives.

Who can participate

Entrepreneurs developing potentially game-changing technologies for financial services – particularly in the areas of Big Data & analytics, mobile & wireless, payments, risk management, security, compliance and social media and collaboration technologies – are invited to apply.

Applications will be accepted until July 31, 2014.

More about “Fintech Innovation Lab Asia-Pacific”

The FinTech Innovation Lab Asia-Pacific is modeled on a similar program that was co-founded by Accenture and the Partnership Fund for New York City in 2010. The New York Lab’s 18 alumni companies have raised more than $76 million in venture financing and created approximately 150 jobs after participating in the program; one participant was acquired for $175 million.

In 2012, the FinTech Innovation Lab London was launched by Accenture and a dozen major banks in London, with support from the city’s mayor and other government bodies. The majority of the participants in the inaugural program have gone on to sign deals with banks and collectively they have raised $10 million in new financing since participating.

According to a recent report by Accenture, Global investment in fintech ventures could more than double to $8 billion by 2018. Global investment in fintech ventures has more than tripled from $928 million in 2008 to $2.97 billion in 2013. During the same period, investment in Asia-Pacific fintech ventures has increased nearly fourfold to $104 million in 2013.

For further information, please refer to their website

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Review: Mobikwik Android App [Recharge, Bill Payment & more]

If you are on the lookout for All In One solution to Bill payment, DTH/Phone recharge, Online shopping etc. than Mobikwik could be the destination.

Mobikwik_new_logoWhat is Mobikwik

As mentioned on Mobikwik website, it is a Prepaid wallet powered by Zaakpay [Payments gateway founded by Upasana Taku & also Head of Merchant Operations for Mobikwik]. Adding money to your wallet lets you pay for your services and recharges in just one click, or even via SMS or by dialling a number.

User can register via their website, Android App, iOS App or Windows App.

In this article, we review the “Mobikwik Android App” & look at some of it’s interesting features …

Review of “Mobikwik Android App”

User Interface

The UI of the mobikwik app is simple & elegant. The color combination is very good. Navigating between different sections in the app is very simple. Just like other recharge applications available on the internet, in this app as well you can keep a track of “Recharge History”, “Recharge Status”, “Refund/Transfer status” etc.

Mobikwik_Combined_1

As mentioned before, user needs to add money to the wallet in order to use the services. For reviewing the app, we recharged the wallet with Rs. 100. The overall process of adding cash to the wallet was very simple & the entire transaction took around 20 odd seconds to complete. Once the wallet recharge was done, it took us merely 5 seconds to do our airtel online recharge

1-Click

As mentioned before, user can navigate through the “Recharge/Transfer history” so that “repetitive tasks i.e. recharging same mobile number” comes very handy & is a “great time saver”.

Mobile Recharge & Transfer of money

Another feature which was interesting is “Transfer of money from the wallet to another mobile user/email-id/Mobikwik user”. For testing the feature, we transferred around Rs. 50 from another Android Phone to our Mobikwik account for doing vodafone online recharge. Just like a banking transaction, the initiator receives an OTP [One Time Password] to complete the transfer. The transfer was smooth & completed within few seconds !!

Mobikwik_Recharge_Combined

Email snapshot & Mobile Update

Mobikwik_Recharge_Combined_Upload

Improvement Areas

Mobikwik is primarily a “Digital Wallet Based Application” that facilitates bill payment, recharge etc. but there are couple of features which we still feel are missing:

1. Direct recharge

Recharging Phone/DTH without maintaining balance in the wallet i.e. direct recharge option is required. This feature is available in other recharge applications like Paytm, Freecharge etc.

2. Added perks

It would have better “more appealing” if Mobikwik could provide user’s with perks on every transaction i.e. discount coupons from e-commerce companies, deals etc. There is a “Deals” section in the app but we could not find only limited number of merchants… may be it is work under progress :)

3. Special Recharge

For special recharges eg. 3G recharge pack [all packs apart from top-up's] Mobikwik does not come handy !!

Closing Remarks

Keeping improvements aside, Mobikwik is very user-friendly, simple & handy application [my favorite feature being money transfer which I have been using it very frequently since the time I installed Mobikwik :)]

Do give Mobikwik a spin & share your experience in the comments section …

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About the author

Hey, Welcome to Himanshu's blog. Himanshu is a engineer, blogger, startupper & an aspiring entrepreneur from Bangalore, India. To know more about him, please visit this page.

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