Monthly Archives: November 2009

Participatory Budgeting in Pune – Propose your additions to your local ward’s budget

(This is a guest post by Sanskriti Menon, who is a Programme Diretor, at the Center for Environment Education, Pune. PMC is now not only allowing citizens to suggest additions to the local budgets, but the form can be filled online (and that is why this item does belong to PuneTech.) The what, why and how are covered below, but if you do decide to submit an entry, please note the following: go to, click on the “Participatory Budget 2010-11” link around the middle of the page, and then on the next page you get a page with instructions in Marathi. Scroll to the bottom of the page, and click “Accept”. That will give you the actual form.)

What is Participatory Budgeting?

The Participatory Budget of the PMC provides an opportunity for citizens to give suggestions for works to be taken up in the next financial year. Citizens can make suggestions for streetlights, footpaths, public toilets, waste sorting shed/ biogas plant/ bulk compost unit, drainage etc, in spaces where such works are permissible and needed. Participatory Budget has been carried out in Pune over the last three years. It is a mechanism for citizens to give inputs for works to be carried out through the ward offices. The final decision regarding the budget of our city government is of course taken by our elected representatives with inputs from the administration.

What is the process citizens are to follow?

Citizens can make their suggestions online in the E-Budgeting application available on the PMC website from 26th October to 09 November 2009. The form is available at

Suggestions can also be made in the prescribed forms available at ward offices.  All ward offices are also making arrangements for online entry. When submitting the paper form, citizens must ensure that it is duly in-warded at the ward office and the tear-off receipt with inward entry number is given. This number will be needed to the unique id number after computerization. Those submitting suggestions online will directly get the unique ID number on completion of the entry. This number will be needed to track the suggestion and what decision is taken about it.

Of course, citizens have to be clear that submission of suggestions does not necessarily mean that the work will be accepted. The PMC has to check the feasibility and the Prabhag Samiti will be making their decision too.

What is the benefit of Participatory Budgeting?

Participatory Budget is a refinement in the ‘institutional design’ of the democratic process to make it more responsive to citizens’ needs. Our democratic process is that we citizens elect our representatives to take decisions that are well thought out, in keeping with societal and environmental concerns, and responding to our needs. However, a necessary condition for representative democracy to function well is that citizens actively provide inputs to elected representatives. This happens in many ways through RTI, the media, NGOs etc. Draft master plans and new policy drafts are kept open for a specified period for public input. The most direct method is of course discussions with corporators. However, in a city where the ratio of representation is about 15000 citizens to one corporator this may pose some problems.

The participatory budget process helps to deepen our existing democratic framework. It is an evolving mechanism to enable the democratic process to function better. The underlying idea is that citizens get a formal opportunity to deliberate upon the needs of their areas and submit requests to the respective administrative ward offices.

What are the achievements so far?

A few thousand people have participated in the exercise over the years. Last year over 1300 suggestions for works were received. Over 35 crore worth of projects were incorporated into the main budget.  There is recognition that some project ideas are mundane (fix a pavement); but the fact that citizens have to ask for these is a telling comment on how these very aspects may be ignored in conventional budgeting processes. There are the not-so-usual ideas as well – sorting sheds, composting units, benches, hawking zone platforms, etc.

Is PB happening anywhere else?

In many parts of the world! Participatory Budgeting started in Latin American countries struggling to build or rebuild their democratic institutions and to eliminate corruption, improve transparency and accountability of government. The innovation of ‘participatory budgeting’ has been praised internationally as an example of “good” governance.

In Brazil, citizens deliberate on five thematic areas: transport and traffic circulation; education, leisure and culture; health and social welfare; economic development and taxation; city organization and urban development. Meetings are held in each neighbourhood, where residents draw up their list of priorities for investment in infrastructure. These inputs are provided to the municipal budget council who determines the distribution of funds for each priority among districts. The municipal budget council and the district budget fora also monitor spending year-round.

In UK, talking about participatory budgeting, Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government Hazel Blear said “councilors must not feel their democratic mandate is bypassed, and instead recognize that it will strengthen their relationship with their local community”.  Also, that, “I think the world has changed. I think voting every four years and basically handing over responsibility and power to other people and then doing nothing again for four years, I think our democracy is not like that any more.”  Ms Blear may well be talking about our city!

Intructions for Participatory Budgeting

PMC’s Citizen Suggestion Form is available online at

(scroll down to ‘What would you like to do’ (above Swine Flu)

General instructions for suggesting works

  1. Please fill in all columns
  2. Citizens should note that suggesting a work does not necessarily mean its inclusion in the budget; the projects inclusion/ exclusion will be determined on technical and legal considerations
  3. All suggested works should be specific (location, description, quantity, category etc) (attach maps, photos where needed – fill a physical form in this case)
  4. Only projects that pertain to neighbourhood or locality level works are to be suggested, not city level infrastructure
  5. The cost of suggested works should preferably be below Rs 5 lakh
  6. Projects of the following type are admissible: pavements, water supply, drainage, bus stop (in consultation with PMT), parks and gardens (only repair works), bhawan (only repair works), public toilets, lights (roads and traffic), roads (only resurfacing)
  7. Projects of following type are not admissible: pedestrian bridges, speed breakers (prohibited by Supreme Court), garden (new provision), construction on land not owned by PMC
  8. Non budgetable projects should be avoided – For e.g. appointment of staff, minor repairs, clean up etc
  9. Deadline for submission is 09 Nov 2009
  10. When submitting the paper form, citizens must ensure that it is duly in-warded at the ward office and the tear-off receipt with inward entry number is given. This number will be needed to the unique id number after computerization. Those submitting suggestions online will directly get the unique ID number on completion of the entry. This number will be needed to track the suggestion and what decision is taken about it.
  11. Suggestions can also be made in the prescribed forms available at ward offices.  All ward offices are also making arrangements for online entry.

For more information, visit

About the Author – Sanskriti Menon

Sanskriti Menon is a Programme Director for the CEE Urban Programmes and Central Regional Cell of the Centre for Environment Education. CEE is an organization that works towards improving the awareness of environmental issues in our education system. It is supported by the Ministry of Envirnoment and Forests. Sanskriti also runs, and she is also one of the primary driving forces behind the huge success of the Pune governance wiki.

How can a Pune startup sell in the US? POCC event – Nov 7

This Saturday, 7th November, the Pune Open Coffee Club will meet to discuss an important issue facing many of Pune’s small startups. How can a small startup with limited funds sell effectively in the US market? First we’ll start with a couple of early achievers – Pune startups that launched on the world stage, with the entire world watching them: Dubzer, which launched at DEMOFall’09, and which launched at TechCrunch50. We will follow that up with a panel discussion on the details and mechanics and logistics and the strategy and the tactics of enterprise sales in the US – with panelists who have lots of experience in this area. Read on for details. This event is free for all to attend, and there is not registration required. So if you know someone who would benefit by this, please forward this article to them.

Pune OpenCoffee Club - POCC Logo
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4pm-4:30pm: Dubzer’s experience with DEMOFall’09 AlphaPitch – Santosh Dawara

Dubzer, a SaaS offering that allows publishers to quickly and easily create translated versions of their websites without requiring any technology development or software changes, debuted at the AlphaPitch event at DEMOFall ’09. We have covered details of this here. Santosh will talk about the whole experience, how they got in, how they prepared, the expenses, and the benefits.

4:30pm-5pm:’s experience with TechCrunch50 – Nilesh Diane, another SaaS offering that allows publishers of video content to add tags, notes, tables-of-content, and other rich meta-data to their videos, was selected for the TechCrunch50 DemoPit. We covered the details of that here. Nilesh Diane will talk about their experience, and other Pune startups can get a feel for what they need to do to be in the same situation.

5pm-6:15pm: How to bootstrap enterprise sales in the US Panel Discussion

We have three panelists – Abhijit Athavale, Devendra Deshmukh, and Amit Paranjape  – each of whom have over 10 years of experience doing enterprise sales in the US. Each panelist will speak for about 15 minutes about specific topics related to the theme (as given below), and answer questions from the audience. After that we’ll have about 30 minutes of a general Q&A where startups can ask any questions to the panelists.


  • Devendra Deshmukh, will talk about “How to set up a sales channel; How to increase your reach; and also talk about his early experiences in this area while setting up eZest.” Devendra is a founder and executive director of e-Zest Solutions Ltd., e-Zest Inc. & e-Zest (UK) Ltd. He is also a co-founder of Webizus Technologies, the IT (Information Technology) consulting company. He has experience of working with Indian software companies in both the operational and business development functions. For more, see his linked-in profile.
  • Abhijit Athavale will cover: “How to hire a Sales Rep; Why and how much time to spend in the field; The difference in sales and distribution and why it matters.” Abhijit is President and CEO of Markonix, and a high-tech marketing consultant. He has 16+ years of high-technology industry experience. Prior to Markonix, Abhijit spent over 11 years at Xilinx, Inc. in various engineering, applications and marketing roles. In his role as a marketing consultant, he has held executive management positions at Taray, Inc and Sanved DA. He has a masters degree in electrical engineering from Texas A&M University and a bachelors degree in electrical engineering from University of Pune. He is an accomplished speaker and author of several publications including a book. For more, see his linked-in profile.
  • Amit Paranjape will talk about: “The dynamics of enterprise sales (understanding your customer, his ecosystem, his business) and the kinds of problems you run into if you don’t understand all of this.” Amit has been in senior positions with enterprise product companies for over 12 years, most of it with i2 in Dallas, USA. He has extensive leadership experience across Product Management/Marketing, Strategy, Business Development, Solutions Development, Consulting and Outsourcing. For more, see his linked-in profile.

The panel discussion will be moderated by me (Navin Kabra). If you have any specific questions or areas that that you’d like the panelists to cover, please send them to navin @ punetech, or leave a comment below.

6:15-7pm: General Networking

Practise your startup pitch, bring your business cards, mingle, portray the confidence that you don’t always feel, ask the seniors for free advice, convince the juniors that working nights and evenings for your startup will be the most fun thing they’ve ever done, and feel out your peers for potential co-founders. Ask the panelists questions that you were too shy to ask in public, practise your startup pitch, set-up follow-up meetings with potential advisors, mentors, CAs, HR outsourcers, php coders, facebook app developers, potential angel investors, and people who will help you get in touch with potential angel investors. Or just talk about beer, or Pune’s new microbrewery, or ask around for new and interesting restaurants in town,  practise your pitch, and find new and interesting people to be friends with. And, did I mention, practise your pitch? All of this…possible only at a Pune Open Coffee Club meeting. Be there.


What: Pune OpenCoffee Club meeting on How Pune’s startups can sell in the US enterprise market. Featuring presentations by Dubzer &’s recent success at DEMOFall’09 and TechCrunch50, and a panel discussion with Abhijit Athavale, Devendra Deshmukh, and Amit Paranjape
When: Saturday, Nov 7th, 4pm-7pm
Where: Symbiosis Institute of Computer Studies and Research, Atur Centre, Model Colony. Map.
Registration and Fees: This event is free for all to attend. No registration required.

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Analyzing Pune’s top twitter users

Image via Wikipedia

(Twitter has quickly become one of the most important new methods of communication, and Pune’s techies have taken to it quite enthusiastically. As its popularity grows and more and more people find out about its utility as a medium of communication, conversation, networking, as a source of news, or as a source of information about interesting hobbies or people, the number of people on twitter is growing. One of the questions most people have is – “Whom should I follow?” and the related question “Who are the top twitterers of Pune?” That is a difficult question to answer because everybody’s criteria are bound to be different – and existing “objective” mechanisms of measuring this are not really that good. Last week twitter released lists, and Dhananjay Nene argues that lists are a new way of measuring the “follow-worthiness” of twitter accounts. With this in mind, he analyzed who would be Pune’s top twitterers according to a number of different criteria. His he published some results of his investigation on his blog /home/dhananjay, and it is reproduced here with permission for the benefit of PuneTech readers.

This should be interesting to you for a number of different reasons. First, of course, this gives a list of the top twitterers in Pune. It is also an example of how a simple question can get quite complicated when you try to get computers to find the answer – and the approaches taken by different algorithms and their results are interesting to see. Finally, I think this is a sign of things to come – I’m convinced that twitter will be an integral part of the communications of the future, and twitter lists are an important way in which we will separate out the spammers and idiots from the useful content on twitter.

And, oh, by the way, are you following PuneTech on twitter? You should – there is info+links in the PuneTech twitter that will not be found on the PuneTech site. (And if you’re not on twitter at all, then please crawl out of your cave and get with the program.)

Anyway, here’s Dhananjay’s article.)

So twitter launched lists and many believe these will be a new mechanism for computing reputation instead of the current defacto followers. It is not a restricted knowledge that using follower counts as a measure of effectiveness of twitter is a extraordinarily error prone and brave exercise due to the obvious. Given the appearance of twitter lists, I was keen on figuring out if there is a way to reasonably measure effectiveness of a twitter id. This post details the exercise I went through. While there could be discussion around the exact semantics of such a computation and whether the results are consistent with everyone’s expectations, let me assert that I find the result sufficiently superior to anything else I’ve seen or I’ve been able to imagine so far. And that may stem from or despite the fact that two of my twitter handles (@dnene and @d7y) feature in this list.

As an input I took the top 50 handles from pune from Why top 50 ? Only part of the process was automated – the remaining required manual input. I did not want to spend too much time on doing data entry. This also gives you the twitter grader grade. I subsequently looked at the reputation of the handle in Klout, looked at the lists which included the handle and finally also looked at the twitter rank as expressed by yet another site I computed rankings using each of these. I finally created a sum of all the ranks, and create a composite rank based on the sums. The interesting aspect of this computation was not just the end results but also some of the intermediate results.

So without further ado – here’s what I found

Ranked as per twitter grader

  1. shinils
  2. arthut
  3. indianguru
  4. sandeepjain
  5. tmalhar
  6. brajeshwar
  7. rohit_shah
  8. ghoseb
  9. rkartha
  10. prateekgupta
  11. ajinkyaforyou
  12. gauravsaha
  13. inkv
  14. aparanjape
  15. scepticgeek
  16. meetumeetu
  17. nishantmodak
  18. czaveri
  19. phpcamp
  20. ngkabra

The rank based on followers or twitter grader ranks was not well correlated with the other ranks. In my mind there is a sufficient rationale to question the effectiveness of both followers count or twitter grader as an ability to reach or influence or engage with others, even though twitter grader grade is slightly better than a folliower count. Thats why the other ranks turned out sufficiently differently ?

Ranked by Klout

  1. brajeshwar
  2. scepticgeek
  3. gauravsaha
  4. ichaitanya
  5. sahilk
  6. indianguru
  7. irohan
  8. rkartha
  9. phpcamp
  10. dnene
  11. ghoseb
  12. ngkabra
  13. prateekgupta
  14. d7y
  15. trakin
  16. aparanjape
  17. adityab
  18. punetech
  19. inkv
  20. nishantmodak

To my lay reading this had a stronger emphasis on people who engaged with others, were conversational and had a high update count as well.

Ranking by Twitter Lists

  1. sandygautam
  2. indianguru
  3. scepticgeek
  4. dnene
  5. brajeshwar
  6. phpcamp
  7. ghoseb
  8. adityab
  9. inisa
  10. rkartha
  11. aparanjape
  12. gauravsaha
  13. prateekgupta
  14. meetumeetu
  15. punetech
  16. ngkabra
  17. trakin
  18. freemanindia
  19. aaruc
  20. rush_me

To me this reflected not the spread of the following as much as the strength of the following. Notice how @sandygautam who very tightly focuses on psychology and is well respected twitterer in that area moves to the top (in a rather dominating way I might add)

Rank using Twitter Rank computed by Twitter-Friends

  1. scepticgeek
  2. ghoseb
  3. prateekgupta
  4. gauravsaha
  5. aaruc
  6. dnene
  7. rkartha
  8. adityab
  9. aparanjape
  10. sandygautam
  11. trakin
  12. d7y
  13. meetumeetu
  14. irohan
  15. aditto
  16. clickonf5
  17. rush_me
  18. sahilk
  19. punetech
  20. brajeshwar

This is an interesting metric and while I couldn’t help clearly identify what drove this, would be certainly willing to lend a ear if you want to come up with a suggested rationale.

So the final 20 pune power twitterers based on a composite of the 3 metrics, which in my perception is not terribly different than a list that I would come up with using my gut feel (though perhaps with different rankings) is … drumroll … drumroll …

Pune power twitterers

  1. scepticgeek
  2. gauravsaha
  3. ghoseb
  4. dnene
  5. rkartha
  6. brajeshwar
  7. prateekgupta
  8. indianguru
  9. adityab
  10. aparanjape
  11. sandygautam
  12. phpcamp
  13. trakin
  14. sahilk
  15. d7y
  16. irohan
  17. ngkabra
  18. punetech
  19. meetumeetu
  20. ichaitanya

Note : All the computations results are visible in the attached PDF. Also in a few case klout ratings or twitter friends rankings were not available. In such cases I have applied a klout rating of 0 and twitter friend ranking of 999999. Obviously it reduces the probability of such handles appearing in the overall rankings substantially – but there was no other reasonable option I could think of.

Disclaimer : At the end I am certain there can be a number of views on how such an exercise could be conducted. There might even be some complaints. Being aware of that, I list results of what I believe to be a “fair” exercise. Whether it is a “just” exercise is left to the reader. Also be aware that I have two of my twitter handles in the list above. You may choose to believe my assurance that I did not tweak the logic based on a first pass of results – the logic I decided to apply was not changed once the results were visible.

(Comments are closed on this article. Please comment at the original article.)

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Tech Events this week in Pune: MCCIA Expo, SystemVerilog, PMI, POCC

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There are a bunch of interesting events in Pune this week. If you’re following the PuneTech calendar, you already know about them, but if you don’t here is a quick lowdown

MCCIA’s PuneExpo:

The theme for this year’s PuneExpo is “Business @ Innovation”

Initiated in the year 2002,this annual exposition is organized by the Mahratta Chamber of Commerce ,Industires and Agriculture(MCCIA) in the city of Pune and is regraded as one of the largest of its kind in India.Owing to its integrated nature that is not segment-specific,participant demography in the past has spanned sectors such as automotive, engineering, IT, electronics and electricals, polymers, food-processing, agriculture and wine-making, as well as service sectors such as insurance, banking and finance, education and research, thus proving to be an effectively platform for cross-sectoral interaction.

Wed, Nov 4 to Sunday Nov 8. At COEP Grounds. Details.

PuneChips: Talk by Cliff Cummings on SystemVerilog FSM, Assertion, & RTL tricks for Design Engineers

PuneChips is a sub-group of PuneTech started by Abhijit Athavale and is focused on the semiconductor/VLSI/chip testing & automation/EDA industry in Pune. They usually hold events on the first Thursday of every month. This month’s event is a talk on SystemVerilog a combined Hardware Description Language and Hardware Verification Language based on extensions to Verilog. As companies start migrating from Verilog to SystemVerilog it is becoming importatnt that they learn the tools of tread to effectively use it.

Thu, 5th Nov, 6:30pm, at Venture Center, NCL Innovation Center. Details.

PMI Monthly Meet: “Business Process Management” and “How to develop personality of a leader”

The Project Management Institute’s Pune chapter is one of the most active chapters, and they hold a seminar with two talks on the second Saturday of every month.

Saturday, 7th November, 10am to 12:30pm, Cummins Auditorium, Patrakar Bhavan. Details.

Bootstrapping sales & marketing in the US – POCC event

USA is still the largest market in the world for IT products. Our next meeting will cover practical advice and challenges around selling in the US. The aim is to have an engaging session that will help first-time entrepreneurs take back valuable ideas that they can apply in their own Businesses.

Saturday, 7th Nov, 4pm-7pm, SICSR. Details.