Showing posts from May, 2010

Artificial Life

Dr. Craig Venter, Dr.Hamilton and their team have achieved something which will profoundly alter human life. This is arguably one of the most important milestones ever in human history. They have created a piece of DNA with about 1000 genes with laboratory chemicals. This is artificial, conceived through a computer programme and this organism can replicate on its own.

There is exciting research in biology happening in several other laboratories and this breakthrough will only accelerate the process of creating synthetic living organisms. A day when artificial large animals can be created may not be very far. This also challenges our conventional notions of life and religion.

The experiments on recreating ‘Big Bang’ in Geneva are also likely to unravel the mysteries about the origins of the universe. That will be another giant step for science and make our understanding and interpretation of life more complete.

But the most fascinating thing in this is the fact that Man, a product of evol…

Lessons from HDFC and Bharti for Retailers

The beleaguered retail sector in India needs to look no further than the story of mobile telephony and housing finance for inspiration. India’s retail sector is still listless and its people frightened even after several industries have revived and the economy sizzles back to a 8.5% plus growth rate.

HDFC started in 1977-78 when the concept of housing finance was well-established in western countries but barely understood in India. It found it difficult to raise funds, had a disastrous IPO and lost money for a few years. The share quoted below the offer price for a long time. But it stayed on in the game and slowly the tide turned, first due to the underlying demand and then the liberalization in the financial sector. Today, it has a balance sheet size of more than two lac crores with its housing finance, mutual funds, insurance and banking businesses.

Bharti had difficult initial years, there were losses but it persisted. In just more than a decade of being in the game, it is a true su…

Great Stories in Time 100

The ‘Time 100’ for all its American slant and shortcomings always manages to showcase some extraordinary people. The current list has legends like Oprah, Bill Clinton, Obama, Jobs and Elton John who have exercised enormous influence on millions.

It also features the Brazilian President Lula, who started working after fifth grade to support his family, worked as a shoeshine boy, lost part of his finger in a factory accident and then at 25 watched his wife Maria and child die during pregnancy. Now he steers Brazil to a new high. Judge Sonia Sotomayor was diagnosed with Type 1 diabetes at 8, lost her factory worker father at 9 and with her trail blazing work has now been nominated to the US Supreme Court as an associate justice, the third woman in history and the first Latin American.

Fifty years ago, nobody gave Singapore a chance to survive and almost single-handedly, Lee Kuan Yew has transformed it to a leading city-state. Kissinger calls him the finest strategist in the world.

Elon Mus…