SIPACon, Silicon Valley Indian Profe- ssionals Association’s annual confer- ence, held November 9 in San Jose,
California, tackled the theme of ‘Hyper-
Personalization: Confluence of Social,
Mobile and Big Data.’
‘Think before you interact with the
Internet that is one way we can protect our
privacy,’ Milind Bhandarkar, chief scientist,
Pivotal, and one of the panelists told the
audience of about 300 people, mostly repre-
senting technology. ‘However, the notion of
privacy is changing. People today exchange
daily intimate info of their life,’
A founding member of the Yahoo! Big
Data platform, he said, ‘We know how para-
noid we were about security information
and personal information. In Yahoo! we
always had information security group
Later, speaking to India Abroad on the
sidelines of the conference he added, “People
are using Gmail or Yahoo! because users
trust them and that is why I think that recent
blog post and recent response from Yahoo!
or Google against NSA is based on this fear
that users would lose trust on their compa-
nies and that is why I think it’s very unlikely
they were complicit in sharing the informa-
Bhandarkar said he expected not just more
involvement of government in protecting
their citizens in the future but also a lot of
regulation on how this data can be used and
Siva Kumar, co-founder and chief executive officer, TheFind, a shopping search
engine targeting lifestyle products, and one
of the panelists spoke to India Abroad about
the commercial aspect of hyper-personalization — how it helps marketing companies
collect the information about users and target a particular segment.
“We are dividing the world between a man
and woman, age groups, race and now saying target these bucket of users. This is what
we call personalization,” he said. “Now that
there is so much data available through
because that translates into very large degree of poverty.
But it is declining. We are making progress there.
Also, there is another study on wages of Scheduled Castes
and Scheduled Tribes, relative to the wages of the general
population and that gap has also been declining. The gap is
mostly explained by the education level gap between
Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes and the general
population. The gap is still there, but it is declining.
The elections are round the corner in India. As an economist do you have any suggestion as to what kind of policies
the government, whoever comes to power, should form in
terms of poverty alleviation and bridging the gap you just
One thing or many things they need to do is to streamline
and reform labor laws.
The big problem India faces is that none of our companies are investing in labor-intensive industries by which I
mean clothing and apparel, which are highly labor-intensive industries. The most dramatic example is that India is
about eight times the size of Bangladesh, but India exports
fewer clothing than its neighbor and compared to China,
we are less than one-tenth of Chinese apparel exports. You
cannot have a workforce of half a billion and not have
employment-intensive industries flourishing.
If you do not have such a flourishing industry then you
Do you mean increase in wages for workers?
are leaving a big opportunity for growth and to make
growth much more inclusive. If you bring people and give
them good wages… you can export (more) garments and
can even displace China.
No. Under current laws, if you are a company with 100
workers or more, under no circumstances are you allowed
to lay off workers. If you are going to hire 5,000 or 10,000
workers that China does you should be able to lay off workers who are not doing their job. Sometimes you may
become unprofitable and want to close down a factory. If
you are not allowed to lay off workers, how do you close
down a factory?
That is why nobody wants to enter that kind of business,
especially when 80 or 90 percent of our cost are labor costs.
You need to have flexibility in hiring workers and firing
them if need be. The absence of that in India is a big problem and that is why we hardly have any large factory in the
clothing sector. All are basically tiny little factories.
The trouble, although people talk about union resistance,
is that these unions do not even represent 5 percent of the
workforce. Therefore, it can be done despite unions and
political parties, but one has to be a little creative in coming up with new labor laws.
Reformed labor laws will help add so many jobs to the
markets place and at the same time build on workers’ interest. Everything depends on how you begin.
In 1981 people used to scream that if import licensing is
abolished, foreign goods will come like an avalanche and
the country will be finished. Look what is happening today!
Well, you say things can be done in terms poverty removal
and job creation. But will it be done by the new government
after the election? What’s your gut feeling?
That depends on who comes to power, UPA or NDA. I
think chances are very high that it will happen if the BJP
comes to power.
What gives you optimism?
You see BJP means (Narendra) Modi and Modi believes
in growth and economic reform. But then anything can
happen without expectation. (P V) Narasimha Rao (former
Prime Minister) did it without any expectation of liberalization.
But so far as one can form some expectation based on
their past behavior, I think Modi very much wants India to
grow. I think there are very good chances. But if UPA
comes, then I do not know. UPA might do it as well. But
what I am basing my optimism on is past observations
Children play inside a Mumbai slum. People who are really
disadvantaged are becoming better off, and that, Arvind Panagariya
says, counts much more than the increase in wealth inequality.
The question of hyper-personalization
The panel discussion on Hyper-Personalization:
Confluence of Social, Mobile and Big Data.
The inequality that matters
REU TERS/DANISH SIDDIQUI