Google, China and the Freedom of Speech

Google is planning to pull out of China if the Chinese government doesn’t allow Google to display uncensored results. When Google launched in China in Jan 2006, it did agree to censor the results as per the rules put down by the Chinese government. So is this pulling out of China just a drama or is there any meat in it?

Google has a 43% market share in China compared to Baidu’s 56% ( see this ) and China is the largest country in the world in terms of Internet Penetration. So what does this mean for Google? Google is taking its fight for freedom of speech head-on with the Chinese government and there are really only 2 options – 1) The Chinese government comes under intense pressure from the world and agrees to let Google display results without censorship or 2) Google loses the battle and pulls out of China.

The biggest social networking sites like Twitter, Facebook and even YouTube are already banned in China. Although foreign news websites like BBC and CNN are no longer restricted, they have been subject to more controls. It looks unlikely that China will let Google get away with its uncensored results although I would like to be proved wrong on this. Google has reviewed its operations and it appears from their official blog that they are willing to continue their operations in China only if they are allowed to operate an unfiltered search engine.

Google does stand to lose financially but it has taken the right stance. Yahoo and Bing have an insignificant share in the Chinese market and it would be interesting to see if they support Google in this crusade or use the opportunity to grab market share in China.

As far as the average Chinese Internet user is concerned, I can only wish them luck !

BTW, there is an interesting case of a small company in Mumbai apparently inspired by Google which sells “Golas” or slush puppies. Their logo is not only a cheeky spin on the Google logo, they also use a gmail address. I wonder if Google is doing anything about this?

gogola

Solar Eclipse on 15 Jan 2010

I predicted that the period between 1st Jan and 15th Jan would be turbulent. There were cold waves and unprecedented snow in UK. Average temperatures recorded were one of the lowest since records began. This was also the case in several countries around the world.

An earthquake of magnitude 7.3 on the Richter scale struck Haiti devastating the capital Port-au-Prince. Upto 200,000 people are feared dead. If you would like to donate, please do so at the Red Cross website

Earlier on this month, a suicide bomber was responsible for the killing of over 100 people in Pakistan.

And to top it all, Gordon Brown launched his election campaign and UK started the year with a budget deficit of £178 Billion. I wonder how many zeroes that has !

I also said earlier this month that Mercury goes forward on 15th January on the day of the solar eclipse. Here is an interesting video on the solar eclipse.

This indicates new beginnings and improved communications. If you haven’t made your new year resolutions, now would definitely be a good time to make them as you are more likely to be able to stick to them.

I have an eye on the stock market and will come back with an update later.

London Colder than Antarctica

I picked up a copy of the Evening Standard on my way home today. Apparently, London is colder than some parts of Antarctica as temperatures plunged to as low as -10C overnight. The Telegraph had a similar article

Look at this satellite image. Britain is completely covered in snow, the heaviest in 50 years.

nasa-snow_1555054f

Plunging temperatures have caused major problems with transportation as grit supplies run low. Apparently, half the workers did not go to work on Wednesday due to the heavy snow. Unfortunately, I had to wade through a foot of snow and it took me a few hours to get to work.

I was hoping to find a sunny Gibraltar next week when I am there but it appears that I am not having great luck with the weather. Well, as I said in one of my earlier posts, the period between 1st Jan and 15th will be turbulent and unfortunately, that seems to be true.

3 Idiots and Five Point Someone

I have been reading with some interest the controversy around the script for the latest Bollywood blockbuster “3 Idiots” and its adaptation from the popular Novel “Five Point Someone” (FPS) written by Chetan Bhagat in 2004.

Chetan wrote in his blog yesterday that the film-makers claimed pre-release that the book is based loosely on his novel with only a 2-5% resemblance.  Chetan wrote – “The setting, characters, plotline, dramatic twists and turns, one-liners, theme, message – almost all aspects that make up the story are from FPS. Yes, there are some changes, any adaptation requires that – but it is no way an original story. Leading movie critics have privately admitted to me that the film is 70% the book”.

Aamir Khan has hit back at Chetan Bhagat accusing him of trying to take away the credit from the film’s writer Abhijat Joshi who has worked hard on the script for the last 3 years.

Chetan has challenged his blog readers to read the Novel, see the Film and make up their mind about the truth.  This is one challenge I know I am up for.

Let Truth prevail. Satyamev Jayate.

Happy New Year 2010

Let me start off by wishing you a very happy and prosperous new year 2010. As Oprah Winfrey once said – “Cheers to a New Year and another chance for us to get it right”

2009 was a long year but things seemed to be picking up towards the end.  The economy will continue to grow although it will be a very slow process.  The London stock market rose 22 percent in 2009, the highest since Labour came to power in 1997.  India, on the other hand, saw the stock markets rise by 81% in 2009.  If you were lucky to have invested in the stock markets in early 2009, well done!

Unemployment continues to grow and is expected to peak at 2.8 million in 2010 before it starts going down.  Property prices have been steadily, albeit slowly, increasing in the second half of 2009. It remains to be seen if this trend will continue in 2010.

2010 will be a year of new opportunities and old challenges.  It is strange that the year started off with a lunar eclipse on the night of 31st December in several parts of the world.  Eclipses are usually a good time to make new beginnings but with Mercury retrograde and a solar eclipse on Jan 15th, I expect the period between 1st and 15th Jan to be turbulent and prone to communication issues.  Mercury turns forward on 15th January on the day of the solar eclipse and this should bode well for new beginnings.

It is still not too late to make your new year resolutions.  As Mark Twain said – “New Year’s Day… now is the accepted time to make your regular annual good resolutions. Next week you can begin paving hell with them as usual”.

Have a fantastic 2010 !