Swine flu times, tech times

13th August 2009
Swine flu times,  tech times

'Use Nilgiri drops on mask 2 protect n hav raw amla and tulsi leaves to increase immunity against swine flu. Keep kappur handy  all times.  Pass this on'  That was an SMS message doing the rounds in the IT community in Bangalore today... a typically indian  take on the growing pandemic  that  has reduced Infotech-fuelled cities like Pune almost to a stand still.
Unlike companies like IBM, most Indian owned  tech outfits have been slow or unwilling to encourage their staff to work from home,even in areas  where coming to office or punching  attendance  does not make sense. Now suddenly in a city  like Pune, where  almost 300,000 ( equally divided between  knowledge processing  and business processing ) work in the core of the I{Tindustry, many employers are scurrying to find out how many of their employees  have a PC and the necessary connectivity to function from home for a few days -- which might become weeks.  Margarpatta City, Hingewadi and other clusters of IT companies are already  seeing reduced attendance.  Some companies were reported to be looking for laptops to hire for the staff 'marooned at home by the sickness of even one family member.
Meanwhile, Swine flu is emerging as the first major Indian health crisis  to leverage the social networks. There  is a "Not having swine flu" community  on Facebook; another  on "not panicking"... with members delivering their two paisa's worth of gratuitous advice  to all willing to listen. 
And how can we ignore Twitter, with tweets  sharing every  little  detail as  people  scour shops for the N 97 mask, share experience about good chemists, , rougue profiteers, fly by night operators....
It is a continuing saga, a story in progress, part tragedy, part farce... made all the more immediate, dramatic by web 2.0 and its many Indian avatars.