Thursday, May 31, 2012

E-Commerce India - Sweets & Snacks

Quote on Pizza and Police
Everyone likes to munch a few snacks in the evening along with tea. Home made snacks still have preference, though the trend is slowly changing. When it comes to occasions, sweets are a must. I guess no other country consumes sweets like India and no wonder we are one of largest consumers of sugar. Apparently, we are also a nation of large diabetes population. Could it be anything other than direct correlation?

We love Rotis and everyone likes to make them fresh at home. Eating them out once in a while is becoming a norm, at least in cities. Not sure when the 'Italian Rotis' (Pizzas) have come into existence in India, they certainly have become popular. First there were dining outlets, then came only delivery outlets and now they can be ordered online. Isn't this evolution very natural for pizza companies? But I wonder what makes the Indian Rotis not consumable like the Italian ones - just like snacks? Or perhaps, we made the Italian Roti a snack :-)

Dominos (Jubiliant Foods) and Pizza Hut are dominant players in India from size and coverage perspective. They do have online presence and one can order their favorite pizzas from their website over Internet. With half the population in India being youth and smartphones becoming omnipresent, it is but logical to extend the service to hand-held devices.

Buying sweets on the street corner is not unusual in any part of India. Unlike in advanced countries, sweets are not just chocolates in India - there are mysore-pak, jhangri, kaju roll and hundreds of varieties more. Vendors got established and created brands from their products. They also expanded to multiple locations across the country and made more people happy during occasions. Employing a cook and getting the sweets prepared at home for occasions is slowly dwindling. 'Outsourcing' is happening at all the households as well.

I know folks who ordered birthday and anniversary cakes online for their family members, when they were travelling. Sweet Chariot is one popular cake shop online for such occasions.

Some of the online sweet vendors in India I encountered while surfing are Anand Sweets, Almond House, Madhulika, Mitha4All and Oder Your Choice.

One interesting aspect to note is that the original sweet / snack vendors do not seem to sell their products directly online. There is a 3rd party who is selling for them online. This is the case for Sri Krishna Sweets, K C Das Ghantewala or Haldirams.

If you have sweet tooth or like to gift sweets to your loved ones, you might not need to visit a physical shop in the future.

I guess there is a lot of scope for innovation and development in this space. Fresheness, quality and quick delivery are the key ! Any takers?

Sunday, May 13, 2012

Internet is Fun : A Family Conversation

Steve Jobs says 'I am very excited about having the Internet in my den'
Internet has dawned into the lives of people and made a remarkable positive difference to one and all. With 2.2+ billion members on the Internet, many of the activities offline are available over the Internet from the ubiquitous mobile phone now. The generation which is born in the Internet world can hardly imagine how people used to get things done earlier, how they used to engage in social conversations, how they could wait for things to happen instead of making them happen, how they could buy products from global brands, how they could travel easily and many more. The previous generation are joining the younger brigade to enjoy the new-found ways of doing things over the Internet. Yes, Internet is Fun !

Here is a short conversation between Dad, Mom and Daughter of a Family. Obviously, Daughter is an ardent fan of Internet on the mobile. The characters are fictitious but all the Internet related aspects discussed through this conversation are very much true.

Your mom and self are going to Hyderabad next month. Can you go to the railway station and book tickets?
Tell me the date and train in which you want to travel. I will book the tickets right now.
25th June by Rajdhani.
Let me try with Paymate on my mobile. [ punches a few keys… ]
You can book tickets on mobile?
Yeah. Here you go ! Tickets are available for that date and train. You want me to confirm?
WoW ! Yes.
Done. I have given your mobile number. You will get a mobile ticket, which you can show in the train while boarding.
That's it ?
Yeah ! Now let me check out Kiran's marriage photos.
Kiran… the one who got married last night?
How can his photos come out so early. They need to be printed and processed.
Daah ! 30 of us friends attended his marriage. All of us had cameras in our phones. We snapped almost 200 pix and captured the moments. And they are all uploaded to Google+, Facebook and Flickr. Mom, you want to see the girl on my mobile?
Yes beta. Ah, she looks very pretty ! I wonder who brokered this marriage !
He posted his profile on e-matrimony sites like Shaadi and Bharat Matrimony. He showed some pix to me as well on his mobile a while ago.
How can they marry someone without seeing them?
Mom, they met through the matrimony sites, saw each others' photo, learnt about each others' family, spoke to each other on the phone, exchanged 50 e-mails and SMS on phone - Internet is Fun! I heard that when dad came to see you, 50 members came in one ambassador car and you could hardly see dad, forget about talking to him.
Yeah, there were no seats left to sit for our family in the hall and there were no sweets after they left the hall. BTW, the jewellery is looking awesome !
He bought it from CaratLane, a new online jewellery store.
OMG ! I thought he got only the bride on the Internet.
He bought his watch, footwear and t-shirts also on the Internet. BTW, he has got a special deal with 80% off on a spa treatment before marriage ! I guess he got most of them at Snapdeal. It's raining deals, deals and deals in India these days !
Oh ! I wonder if he buys at least inner wear in a physical shop !
Mom, if he could buy jewellery online, why would he buy innerwear from a physical shop?
Hmm… anyway, where are they going for honeymoon?
Maldives. Kiran booked a honeymoon package on MakeMyTrip - includes transport to airport, flight tickets, hotel accomodation, sight-seeing, blah blah...
Okay. How come your desk is so neat?? Where is your desktop computer?
Ha Ha. I sold it on OLX site yesterday, from my mobile. Internet is Fun !
how are you going to work on your assignments now? You were talking about Google being your best friend.
Now, everything is my mobile Dad. I can even search by using voice commands with my phone. Oh, again Mamata Banerjee is throwing tantrums and she's gone one step ahead and saying that there will be early Lok Sabha polls. Damn !
I am just watching that news on TV! How do you know that?
I've got Live TV on my mobile - Internet is Fun !
Your dad has been watching this stupid news for the whole day. I am missing my favorite TV serials every other day.
If you want, I can show you the latest TV serials from Youtube on my mobile.
See, my daughter is always there to help me.
Ask her to pay electricity bill first. Otherwise, she cannot charge her mobile and say 'Internet is Fun' from tomorrow.
Dad, I paid it from…
From your mobile phone. I know. [ he is beginning to get upset that the next generation is able to do so many things just using a mobile, without moving an inch ]
Ok. Your mom and self are going for a movie this evening. Where ever you go in the morning, come back early in the evening today.
Sure. If you want, I can book tickets for you using BookMyShow on my mobile - Internet is Fun !
I changed my mind. We shall go to a restaurant and have a romantic evening.
Great ! Shall I book a table for you through Bookurtable ? If you still insist on going to a restaurant, I can check out on Zomato about reviews of nearby restaurants.
[ Grr…… ] Nope. We shall go to Kohli uncle's house and spend our evening there.
I read a message from Kohli uncle on Facebook yesterday that he is going to watch IPL 5 match in Bangalore today ! BTW, it seems he booked the IPL tickets on the Internet. I don't want to go there all the way. I watch it live on my mobile over Internet. See, Internet is Fun !
[ temper is raising… ] Then, we shall go out to buy some groceries.
Dad, you can buy groceries on the Internet now. Check out bigbasket, mygrahak and other such stores.
[ the stakes are increasing… ] We shall go to temple, get the blessings of God and return with prasad.
If you want peace of mind, you can certainly visit the temple, but if you are keen on blessings and prasad, I can order that online.
[ give-up… ] Instead of doing all these fun things on the Internet, why don't you apply for a Job?
Dad, I am working on a couple of freelancer jobs, which I got through Internet. I am not interested in a full-time job; I want to become an Entrepreneur. I need your help for that Dad. I would need about 10 Lakh Rupees as initial capital to start my own company.
[ sarcastic… ] Why don’t you ask for funding on the Internet?
I did apply to a few Venture Capitalists by browsing their sites and sending e-mail. I did connect with a couple of them on LinkedIn, a professional networking site. In fact, I did all these things from my mobile. I am yet to hear from them. Oh, while we were talking I just placed an order for 100 shares of Financial Technologies through National Stock Exchange (NSE) - Internet is Fun !
Dearest, I don't feel like cooking today. Is it possible to order some food online?
Tell me what you want Mom. This Genie is at your service on Mother's Day. Do you want South Indian, North Indian, Chinese, European or Thai?
[ Still Laughing… ] Get me a Pizza baby !
Domino's - Done ! I got a good deal - buy one get one free ! Internet is Fun ! BTW, it is going to rain for the next three days. Weather application on my device has given a warning. If you want any fruits or vegetables, let's order on the Internet NOW !
Why do you keep saying 'Internet is Fun'? You guys are addicted to it and forget about the rest of the world.
Dad, I say that 'Internet is Fun' because It allows me to do all the things which I want - work, learn, read, listen, watch, buy, sell, chat and talk - without leaving my house. Those verbs pretty much describe my life in a nutshell. Moreover, I can fulfill our wishes and yet stay close to you all ! Internet is Fun?
Dad, Mom
[ pause and silence for 3 seconds... ] Yes. Internet is Fun ! [ They all get into a huddle and cherish the moment… ]
Super! Now, if you excuse me, I need to get back to my room and 'Hangout' with my friends on Google+.

This article fits well into the theme of my blog, but written more in the context of 'Internet is Fun' contest by Vodafone ( and Indiblogger.

Friday, May 11, 2012

Telecom Sector - 4 : Multi-media and Communications for Digital Consumer

quote on a man by Mahatma Gandhi
India has seen adoption of mobiles like no where else in globe in the last decade. People from all walks of life and strata have adopted mobile phones for personal, professional and business purposes. The primary purpose of a mobile phone was to have telephone conversations. With mobile phones on both ends, people have resorted to short messages (SMS) as it was costing less and in vogue during those times. Mobile phone becoming one of the items carried all the time, people wanted more services than basic voice conversations and text messages. The ecosystem has developed so quickly that a plethora of services were released into the market in no time.

Ring-back tones : If I like a piece of music - filmy, pop, instrumental or vocal - or I capture a sound of my liking - wood cutting, baby giggling or someone snoring, I can keep that as a tune for others to listen when they call me. This is a fun way of making others listen to what I like. We can also see it as a way to share our joy with others through mobile communications. If I like someone else's ring-back tone, I can even copy that by sending an SMS to a specific number.

Ring tones : If I like any of the above multimedia content and I feel I should enjoy it personally, then I can set it as a ringtone on my mobile phone. I can even set a different ringtone for different callers with advanced phones. There were different types of ringtones that evolved along with advancement in mobile phones - monophonic, polyphonic and now MP3. If one consciously listens to the ring tones in a crowded place like bus stand, railway station, busy market or airport lounge, once cannot but go crazy with the variety around !

Wall Papers : With advancements in technology, mobile phone screens have become larger and supported color and multimedia capabilities. Belief, fondness and interest on various subjects - like bollywood, cricket, devotion, nature and politics - have always driven people to keep different wall-papers on their mobile phones. There was no dearth of this form of content in a largest movie producer country !

The above services need content development in different formats, massive storage on a centralized server for easy download and access to this content through a communication channel. Handful of business models have evolved around this domain. Telecom Operators have begun the trend and taken the lead to provide end-to-end services. One can download these different multimedia content through SMS and Web Channels. 3rd Party content providers have come into existence. Companies providing IT infrastructure, which is required to host all the content, have evolved. One97 and OnMobile are two such successful companies in this context. Companies like Rediff have also hosted different multimedia content supporting different telecom operators.

Outbound calls : Bill amount collection is an important task for any business and more so for capital intensive companies like Telecom Operators. Cheque drop boxes, company operated retail outlets, collections kiosks, online payments through credit / debit cards and banks have become a norm for all telecom operators. But still there are revenue leakages and there is a need to remind subscribers about bill payments. Usually text messages would be sent as reminders, but lately telecom companies have adopted making outbound calls to subscriber phones with replay of recorded message as reminder.

Multimedia Messaging Service (MMS) : If a picture is worth thousand words, a video would be much better. Sending short clips of multimedia should have thus become a norm now. Though MMS service was introduced long back to exchange such short multimedia clips, it did not pick-up as it needs phones with similar capabilities and service on either ends. This is super-ceded by 'Videos for work and play' model mentioned down below.

Cameras, Pictures and Sharing : One of the key advancements in mobile phones was introduction of a camera. This has brought out photographer in every observer with a mobile phone. People shoot photos for various reasons - passion for photography, to capture moments during various occasions and even to remember parking lots. With availability of free services on the Internet like Flickr and Picasa Web, it does not cost a rupee to share the pictures with near and dear. With social networking sites like Google+, Facebook and Twitter, it takes hardly any time to share the cherished moments with near and dear.

Songs on-the-go : Indians being bollywood and regional movie lovers, listening to film songs is a passion. While different TV programs fulfill that purpose, the need to listen to the songs on the go - in the kitchen, while in gym, during a pleasure or professional trip, while waiting for a friend and during evening walks - is increasing. One can buysongs online in digital format from sites like Flipkart or listen to them for free from sites like Saavn. With increase in bandwidth availability from Phones, listening to streaming songs from sites like Saavn and Gaana should be very easy and convenient. Songs are free but I need to pay for the bandwidth usage. Again, without IT none of these things would have been possible !

Videos for work and play : Who wouldn't love to watch Videos? Sites like YouTube have made video upload or watching so very commonplace. If I want to share a video with my friends, family or colleagues, I can create one and upload into repositories like Youtube for everyone to watch. With mobile phones being omnipresent and data connectivity becoming affordable, people are uploading / watching such videos on the move. One can even watchIndian Films and TV shows on Youtube now !

Mobile phones are just end-points to consume various kinds of content and services available on the Internet through the wireless networks provided by telecom companies. The content and services provisioning at the back-end relies on the back-bone of Information Technology !

Are you consuming any more such multimedia services from your mobile?

Monday, May 7, 2012

Telecom Sector - 3 : How is India using SMS ?

know or listen to those who know
With 23 telecom circles, 15 telecom operators and 900+ million mobile subscribers, India is the 2nd largest telecom industry across the Globe (in terms of subscribers). The profiles of the users consuming mobile services in rural and urban areas would be quite different. The type of mobile phones - basic, feature and smartphone - are also varying across the terrain of India from north to south and east to west. Irrespective of all these variations, one mode of communication which is widely used through mobiles is Short Messaging Service (SMS) by most of the Indians. This simple service, which relies on the back-bone of Information Technology (IT), is used in a variety of ways.

An Entrepreneur would need to know about these possibilities to see how to leverage SMS in his venture.

  1. Web to Mobile through SMS : It is not necessary that one needs to send an SMS from mobile. We can send an SMS, that too free, from websites like Way2SMS. You just need to register with an Indian mobile number. You can add numbers to phone-book in this site and send messages to a group at-a-time as well. This site also offers the ability to get SMS alerts when a new mail is received in Gmail, Yahoo or MSN account. We just need to link Way2SMS and these mail accounts on their website for that. Apparently, there is an Android application as well, which can allow sending SMS for free across India. Just search for 'Free SMS India' in Google Play Store.

  1. There are customer-facing IT applications across different verticals like Banking & Finance, E-Commerce and Retail. These systems need to be up and running all the time as down-time for even a few minutes could cause heavy losses. SMS can be leveraged for a variety of causes in this context, like:
    • A mission critical server just went down?
    • Particular flight is delayed and the customers need to be informed?
    • An e-commerce store has just crashed?
    • An alert when a credit-card of a customer is swiped at an outlet?
    • Notifications about policy changes, product updates and regular account details

  1. TV Reality shows have become popular in India in the first decade of this millennium. An important aspect of the program is voting for the candidate by the viewers of the program in TV. This 'Engagement Marketing' solution relies on SMS. Indian Idol, Dance India Dance, Sa Re Ga Ma and Kaun Banega Crorepati (KBC) are some of the cases in point.

  1. Subscriptions - Mobile users on-the-go can subscribe to information related to news, astrology, cricket, bollywood and the like by sending an activation SMS. Once subscribed, the user would receive the text information on the subscribed topic at the pre-defined frequency. The user need to remember the number (Shortcode) to which the subscription SMS has to be sent with a Keyword.

  1. If one has to subscribe to specific type of content (say cricket scores or news), one needs to know the corresponding 'shortcode' and 'keyword'. It might be difficult to remember many such codes and words. The easiest option would be to us an SMS Browser. Insta SMS from Indiatimes is one such browser. This browser provides access to the same information as in subscriptions but through a convenient and familiar menu-driven native application on a featured phone; request to the server and response from the server are through SMS messages, which doesn't really matter to the end-user.

  1. Mobile Marketing is one channel which has been used extensively by not just small and medium enterprises but also large enterprises. How would they send out bulk messages, when there is a special offer, a contest or launch of a new product / service? This is supported through bulk SMS dispatch provided by 3rd parties running SMS gateways. These gateways expose an API that can be used for marketing from our IT applications. These 3rd parties would in-turn integrate with the SMS gateways of telecom operators. Unfortunately, the database of mobile numbers of a particular market segment are obtained illegally in many cases. That is the reason the telecom regulatory body introduced 'Do Not Disturb' feature, which does not seem to work in true sense.

  1. Mobile Ticketing - Bus Ticket booking and Train Ticket booking sites on the Internet have adopted m-tickets, which are basically tickets dispatched to passengers as SMS on their mobiles. Passengers can actually show these mobile tickets to board the transport vehicle. This paper-less boarding is applicable in case of private buses and Indian Railways. Though a similar SMS message is available for flight bookings, an additional step of collecting the physical boarding pass cannot be avoided at present.

  1. When there are so many possibilities with SMS, there should be a way to create an open ecosystem to develop custom SMS applications. That is precisely being done by SMS GupShup and TxtWeb. SMS Gupshup enables group chat while allowing creation and joining of new or pre-defined groups. They also seem to support (though there are any applications developed recently) 3rd party SMS application development. TxtWeb, another SMS application ecosystem player, allows publishing of content to the mobile phones through text-based sites at the back-end. They simplified the development of such 3rd party text-based sites.

  1. Amidst all these possibilities let's not forget about the regular way of sending an SMS - mobile-to-mobile or rather person-to-person. Sending international SMS messages through applications like Jaxtr (by Hotmail fame Sabeer Bhartia) are reducing the cost to communicate across the borders.
Millions of SMS messages are created, shared with people, dispatched from machines and processed by message brokers at 3rd parties or telecom operators to make a difference to lives of people !

While some of the SMS services are free, some are charged at a very high price. Check for the prices before using any of them. Even with so many free SMS services, Telecom Operators are earning about 5% of their revenues through SMS ! With applications like 'WhatsApp', which allow sharing short text messages without relying on SMS, we need to see how the SMS ecosystem develops going forward.

Isn't it amazing how a simple text messaging service is used for such a wide-ranging impact? Are you aware of any other SMS services?

Saturday, May 5, 2012

Versatile Blogger Award, THANK-YOU Note and Nominations

I appreciate the gesture by Ravi Akula to bestow upon me the 'Versatile Blogger Award'. I would like to extend my sincere THANK YOU to Ravi for his kind gesture. As an extension to that I would like to say that I find the blogosphere world very friendly, collaborative and filled with constructive criticism. Being interested in 'applying technology', I cannot but think why this model cannot be replicated in Academia-Industry connection :-)

As a part of the award nomination, I am supposed to follow certain rules:

1) Create a new post
2) Thanks the lovely person who nominated you for the award
3) Pass it on to your fellow bloggers
4) State 7 random facts about you
5) Claim and post the award pic

I would like to nominate the following bloggers (not in any order) for 'Versaite Blogger Award'. As a token of appreciation (for Ravi Akula's blog also), I would also like to state that these blogs have humored, awed, entertained, amazed, enlightened, thought-provoked, inspired, enhanced-knowledge and made me a better person. Look forward to more interesting reads in the future too !

  1. Valady Hariharan
  1. C Suresh
  2. Nandita B
  3. Cute Parents
  1. Samritha Pillai
  1. Joshi Daniel
  1. Rajkumar
  2. Sangeeta Reghu
  3. Ashok
  4. Sumitra
  5. Nona's Pensive
  6. Abhishek Mandloi
  7. Nabanita Dhar
  8. Ranjith
  9. Anupam Patra
  10. Amit Agarwal

Thanks to all of you and Congratulations !
7 Random facts about me

  1. I am an avid book reader; Flipkart and JustBooks are adding fuel to the fire. I am a collaborative guy and love sharing my knowledge and experience (especially bad ones so that people learn) with others.
  2. Got my Masters from IIT Delhi in 90's. Currently, living in Bangalore. Would like to meet fellow Bangalore-bloggers (and others too) when possible.
  3. Pretty interested in personal financial planning and financial markets. Currently, I am into teaching appropriate courses in this domain while pursuing Entrepreneurial dreams in Information Technology (IT) product space. Plan to launch my products in the second half of this year.
  4. Am a seasoned IT Architect with passion to provide technical solutions to business problems.
  5. Travelled to USA, Europe and a few countries in Asia but never drove in any of those countries (I have a driving license in India for the last 20 years). I dream about making a family trip to some of those countries and drive around this time !
  6. I love animation movies and ICE AGE is my favorite. I enjoying watching this movie with any kids who visit our home.
  7. While my family enjoys TV programs, I enjoy watching advertisements during the breaks. I believe creating anything from the scratch is incredibly challenging !

I would like to thank Ravi Akula once again for an opportunity to state all the above thoughts and facts. Now that the bar is set for versatility, should I sustain the same or be 'more versatile'? :-)

Tuesday, May 1, 2012

E-Commerce India - We can search for Property (Real-estate) Online

russian quote on house and neighbourhood
Indians love property / real-estate as much as they love gold and people. Business tycoons and earlier landlords in India are rich and famous mainly because of trade AND real-estate. Bollywood, Tollywood and Kollywood stars and producers became more rich due to investment in real-estate before economic boom. All these real-estate deals were closed with help from brokers or agents. But how does a middle-class person look for suitable property in a known or unknown location?

In olden days, friends, family and relatives were the main agents to trigger buying of real-estate property. They used to provide leads, influence the buying decisions and also connect to the seller directly many a times. Over a period of time, brokers or agents have taken active role and these middlemen were helping widen the search operations in a given area. The quest was mainly for a piece of land rather than a ready-made house. More food-grains can be produced, super luxury cars can be manufactured according to needs and jobs can be increased - but the land on earth remains constant ! (except in cases where water bodies are covered and utilized for real-estate)

With scarcity in land in prime locations, high-rise apartments have come into existence. Also, people started liking community culture - better safety, amenities like swimming pool, club-house, play area, neighbors for social interactions and friends for kids. With better economy, more jobs, increase in disposable income, the ability to purchase a house or a flat has grown by leaps and bounds. With assistance from banks and other financial institutions, purchasing a house at early stage of a career on loans has become commonplace. Obviously, this led to better growth of real-estate market.

Cut to modern times, people are travelling far-and-wide and their investments are diversified even within real-estate. If I live in Chennai and I am interested to buy a property in Coimbatore, how do I do that? I want to keep a constant watch on property availability in an area within my living city, so that I can buy a second property when there is a good bargain. How can I accomplish that? I moved to a new city and looking for a house for rent. Where do I go and search?

There are many a websites available for online property search in India either replacing or supporting the existing business model around real-estate. The first decade in the millennium has seen these sites mushroom with similar business models.

In most cases, the listing of a property and browsing / searching is free. User can search for residential projects, commercial properties and land for various purposes. There are ample parameters to search for these properties - like minimum price, maximum price, locality, area and posting by owner, builder or dealer. User can also look at photographs and videos of the properties, which can help with buying-decision. Once the buyer identifies the property, he can get in touch with the seller and negotiate the deal offline.

Indiaproperty (which belongs to the same group as bharatmatrimony) was seen going aggressive in this segment with TV advertisements; I wonder if they are able to pull more user traffic to their sites with such heavy investments.

Magicbricks has adopted mobile strategy with introduction of their iPhone and Android applications. The feature that caught my attention with these applications is the ability to go in the field and check the properties available in that area on a map. That is what I call as being helpful. Of course I should have GPRS capability at least, to get the location information. I am not sure why they are not publicizing this important and useful feature in their advertisements. By the end of this decade, this feature would become the basis for property search.

Homeshikari, from TTK brand, has entered this domain recently but with a difference. There are no advertisements on their site and the details are quite helpful. They provide photos and videos of the properties as well as the floor plans with all possible details. As they say, no one searches for a property just based on city and direction; the search starts with the school for children, office for the working professionals at home and nearby hospitals; they have pretty neat integration with maps to provide similar search capability. Interesting they advertise in local FM Radio !

I heard about Non-Resident Indians (NRI) relying on craigslist to sell or buy properties in India.

Lots of these property sites rely on displaying advertisements, featured or sponsored projects and some property related services.

Even if the properties have come closer with technology, I do not think the broker / agent based approach would do-away in India any time soon. The reasons, I think, include:
  1. Lack of trust on the property listings on the site
  1. The sellers prefer to go through a broker as there are logistics issues involved; for example, if he stays in a different location and needs to show the house to visitors
  2. Not all properties are listed as the owners might not be Internet users

I would wait for the day when each and every property would be tagged with an ID for easy identification. Once all the properties are tagged, the government could take a snapshot on one fine day and say that the properties are going to be tracked from that day onwards. All these real-estate property sites should then be tagged with those identities for easy verification. Is it possible to achieve this level of transparency with respect to real-estate in India ever?

While speaking of transparency and good governance, I need to mention about my recent finding. I came to know only recently that there is something called 'MLC Graduates Constituency' in India. Any graduate can register with the nearest local government administration. Once registered, the graduate can participate in voting for a Member of Legislative Council (MLC) contesting in that region. If you are a graduate, you can also register (I did) and make a difference by electing the right candidate !