Tuesday, January 15, 2008

Bye bye, Bangalore; saying it with saplings

If everyone who goes abroad the first time – students, IT professionals or baby-sitting NRI parents – were to plant a roadside sapling to mark the occasion, we could have a green corridor all along the way to the airport in three to five years.

So I said in a recent post highlighting the green initiative of Mrs Janet Yegneswaran, who set up the Tree-for-free Trust in memory of her husband . Now that the Bangalore international airport would be ready for operation in six weeks, this is as good a time as any other to plug the message: Say it with Saplings – addressed to Bangalore air-travelers.

When airport-related items are the flavour of the Bangalore media, it is time to drum up the ‘green' corridor idea, in the hope it would be taken up by the Bangalore municipal and the international airport authorities. What triggered the idea was a story in Bangalore Mirror about a California NRI having planted 21 saplings at a city park to mark her three-week vacation in Bangalore. It’s time the media followed up on the idea for a Greener Bangalore.

This is the time for the Tree-for-Free Trust to survey the highway to identify open stretches along the road to Devanahalli; and to seek permission from the authorities and landowners to plant saplings on their space, as a citizen initiative. Janet has been engaged in encouraging residents and neighborhood interest groups to chip in their bit in making a difference to the city’s green cover. Janet’s trust arranges to plant saplings sponsored by individuals to mark special occasions such as birthday, death anniversary, wedding date, college admission, job placement or whatever.

The media report on the California NRI planting saplings as her farewell gesture on leaving Bangalore evoked many enquiries from residents seeking to sponsor saplings. Sunil Khanduja of SiliconIndia set up a online group in support of the initiative of the Tree-for-free trust.

But then the initial spurt in public enthusiasm hasn’t been sustained. We haven’t heard anything further either from Janet or Bangalore Mirror about whatever happened of those sponsorship enquires. Have the sponsors planted their saplings? How many, where and by who? And how are the NRI saplings coming up at the Koramangala eco park? Wouldn’t their non-resident sponsors wish to read about and see photographs of their plants on Janet’s website?

The SiliconIndia support group remains a non-starter. Not a single member, other than yours truly and Sunil who started it, has joined the group. In a recent e-mail Mrs Janet Yegneswaran referred to lack of media or corporate support. Maybe not many know of her efforts; maybe, she hasn't done enough to create public awareness. For a start, I would like to see Janet sharing her thoughts and experiences with the SiliconIndia support group.

Those in the media could do more of the Bangalore Mirror type stories (are you reading,Mr Balanarayan?) Radio jockeys could be persuaded to plug the green message. Company CEOs could talk about it to their staff and in social circuits. SiliconIndia network members with Bangalore connection could take more interest in sustaining the GreenBangalore support group.

Cross-filed in SiliconIndia

Friday, January 11, 2008

Delhi techie blogs to pay for studies aborad

Blogger Ankur Shankar has a mission - to blog his way to the London School of Economics (LSE). The 25-year-old techie in NOIDA wants to study economics at LSE. He has an admission offer, but no funds. Ankur is hopeful that his blog would raise ad revenue to pay for his studies in London.

It works this way. Google’s Adsense places assorted ads on Ankur’s blog. His earnings are related to the number of hits his blog gets; and the ‘clicks’ for a specified ad. Online advertising in India represents about 10 percent of the companies' overall advertisement budgets, according to Business Standard. Media pundits reckon this form of marketing has huge potential; it has scope for ‘contextual advertising’ that seeks to match buyers with sellers in a meaningful way.

Advertisements appearing on blogs are chosen to flog products and services that would interest the niche readership of a given blog. Ankur posts short stories, on a daily basis; a story a day for 180 days. Ankur’s blog – The Million Dollar Story – is a six-month project that started in December last. He needs to raise $1,10,000, by May-end, so as to enable him to join the two-year M Sc course in Economics, starting at LSE in July, 2008. It is reckoned he would need a million page-views a month, for the next five months.

Whether Ankur’s Million-dollar-story would raise a million page views a month is a mega question. Undoubtedly, his endeavour has evoked much word-of-blog support and several bloggers have put Ankur on their blogroll. What gets him readers, however, would depend on the appeal of Ankur’s posts. The blogger is set to turn out a story a day; and he reportedly spends some three hours every evening on his blog post, apart from holding a day job.

A reader’s comment left on a recent post says it all – “…effort is highly commendable, but you need to take more time and write better stories; your stories haven’t excited me to come back and read another one”. It occurs to me that Ankur, instead of slogging it out on his own, could take on board a bunch of bloggers contributing posts to his blog. This could be a way to boost page-views; and the contributing bloggers would have the satisfaction of furthering Ankur’s cause.

In the last five weeks Ankur’s blog has raised a little more than $300, creditable in itself, but it doesn’t look as if it would take him anywhere close to the target figure. Ankur is, however, hopeful that the buzz his blog generates among bloggers and in the mainstream media would get him noticed by a corporate sponsor. And he promises to work for any company that sponsors his LSE course, for five years after his graduation.

Cross-posted in SiliconIndia, Desicritics