Thursdays event took me down memory lane. In June 1995, a few months after I had launched IndiaWorld, our Internet connection was cut-off by NCST. We were told then that we were using it for commercial purposes. It did not matter that many others were doing so they were too powerful to touch! All of a sudden, the cost and complexity for uploading content (and software) to the servers in the US rose exponentially. What used to be a 10-minute automated process costing tens of rupees a day became a multi-hour, manual process (involving dialing international to an ISP in the US) costing hundreds of rupees a day.
But we did not give up. The termination only made our resolve stronger. We were determined to ensure that services would continue uninterrupted it whatever the other pains. This continued for a few months till commercial Internet services were officially launched in India in August 1995. No prizes for guessing who got one of the first Internet connections!
At that time, I tried talking to various people who had the Authority to do something. I spoke with Nasscom (we were a member). No assistance. We were obviously too small and irrelevant to matter. I spoke to tried to speak to one of the Government secretaries responsible for technology, only to be told that he was busy watching television. I wrote to various people who I felt could help. Not one responded. It was then that I learnt my first lesson: Entrepreneurs have to fight their battles on their own. When you are small, you dont matter contrary to all the spiel that one may hear. That incident has also given me a healthy disrespect for people in Power and Authority and a firm belief that we have to rely on ourselves to fight, and hopefully, win.
It is these periods that test ones character. It is easy to give up or give in. Or use alternate unclean means to achieve ones ends. It is tempting to sell ones soul. But if one can stick it out, one emerges stronger from these storms. And that is the second lesson of Bad Things: There is an End. No bad situation lasts forever. One has to wade through troubled waters to get to the other wide. Look at it as a sort of Agni-Parkisha there is only a finite amount of Agni!
When one is going through the Bad Thing, it is very hard to think straight or believe that it will be over soon. The days seem long and never-ending. But one has to maintain calm and composure. As the ships captain, the entrepreneur cannot give up hope. Optimism is the most important quality that needs to be exuded during these difficult times especially for everyone around.
Tomorrow: Vanishing Website
TECH TALK When Bad Things Happen+T