Blogger of the Week - Ajay Ohri

Posted on January 18th 2009

I struck up a conversation on Skype a couple weeks with a young data management consultant in Delhi named Ajay Ohri whose DecisionStats blog posts appear regularly on SmartData Collective, our most recent sponsored community.  I mentioned an article that had appeared that morning in the New York Times extolling the virtures of a free open source programming language called R, which is the flavor of the month among analytics geeks.

Within 45 minutes, Ajay (who is an R fan, by the way) had read and digested the Times article and posted a response called Top Ten Reasons R is Bad for You for SDC.  That article quickly became the most-read article so far on SmartData Collective.  The next day he posted an interview with Dr. Graham Williams, inventor of Rattle, a GUI that makes using R easy.  Or, at least easy, for data guys like Ajay.  As a lifelong editor, this kind of initiative makes me very happy and has earned Ajay Ohri our much-coveted Blogger of the Week award.

What makes Ajay's blog especially compelling reading for me is not just the technology articles (which are terrific) but also his willingness to talk and write about some of the social problems of Indian society--like the lingering caste system and the social costs of the booming BPO industry.

"For cultural reasons, we Indians are generally reluctant to 'air our dirty laundry' in public," he says.  "But, to take an example, the number of people who are directly affected by the Indian call center industry is now nearly 1.5 million Indians including dependents. Most of them consider the BPO industry a boon as it enables them to earn wages much more than was possible previously.  But, there are systemic problems in the largely unregulated industry that have a very high cost to society in terms of health, and economic dependency, and a breakdown in family life.  They have to be addressed." 

It is an industry he knows first-hand, having worked in data mining and analytics for several of the major BPO players in his career. 

Ajay now has his own data consulting business called Virtua Analytics.  If you've got any data that needs crunching or insights that need gleaning, or just had your global horizons opened up a bit by Slumdog Millionaire, give Ajay a call.  He's a brilliant young man who will serve you well.

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