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August 16, 2000
New website on Dr Rajakumar kidnap
M D Riti in Banagalore
Since Kannada film star Dr Rajakumar belongs to Bangalore, the land of doctoms and netizens, it was only a matter of time before some enterprising software engineer made a special website on his abduction.
It took only a week. Ramesh Kumar, project manager of Eduquity, a new dotcom based in Bangalore, to put up his own website, rajkumarkidnap.com.
Ramesh, who is not even a Kannadiga, has spent over Rs 10,000 of his own money without any hope of earning anything. While he does profess to be an admirer of Dr Rajakumar, it was more his love for the Internet that motivated him. "I was moved by the distress his fans seemed to feel over the kidnapping and thought one must acknowledge this through a website," he says.
In the one week that he has had it up, the site has had more than 8,000 hits, which is decent for a new website. "I thought it would be nice for surfers to have one composite website which can give them a concise picture of the kidnap saga, under an easy-to-remember domain name," Ramesh told rediff.com from his home in Bangalore, where he designs and maintains the website.
The idea struck him as soon as the film star was kidnapped, but as he thought he might return in a couple of days, he did not pursue it. When it became obvious that the abduction saga would continue for a week or two, he registered the domain name immediately. As this is the fourth website that Ramesh is attempting, he was quick in registering the domain name and setting up the website. In fact, Rajakumar's official website creators could only get their fourth choice of name!
Actually, Ramesh got his present job largely because of the first website that he designed for Bishop Cotton's High School, where his children study. At that time, Ramesh had worked for 18 years for a public sector company as an ERP manager. He worked on the school website at home in the night. One evening, he received an email from an alumnus, who suggested certain features to enhance interactivity. Ramesh added the features and uploaded them within 15 minutes, even as the old Cottonian was still reading the website.
The delighted old student promptly contacted Ramesh and revealed that he was the founding partner of the well-known Bangalore-based company Ampersand and offered Ramesh a job! It took Ramesh several months to make the decision to quit the security of the public sector, but he eventually did, and has been with Eduquity, a sister concern of Ampersand, for some months.
He does not expect his kidnap website to earn any money. "As I am a regular surfer myself, I just wanted to make information on the issue available easily," says the engineer, who hails from Andhra Pradesh. The website carries daily updates and has newspaper photographs scanned digitally by a friend. He has also made his website very interactive, with a discussion board on the kidnap, a one-question poll that stays up for 2-3 days. Each of his polls attract close to 1,000 respondents.
Since his first website got him his present job, does he hope that his present endeavour will get him website design contracts? "No, I simply do not have the time," he says. "My job keeps me very busy, and I can only devote a few hours per night to my hobby, which is this kind of website design. I propose to keep it going for a year since I have paid for that duration. After Dr Rajakumar returns, I will carry analysis on the entire episode, perhaps quotes and interview-based information from the star."
He also has another fashion-industry related domain name registered, and a lot of ideas of what to put on it, but has no time to activate it. Not surprisingly, he already has backers interested in taking it over, or supporting him to put it up. But he will wait till he is free from his ongoing websites.
"I do not like the appearance of the kidnap site much myself," says Ramesh now. "I could have done a much better job if I had one more person to help me. But I spend at least three hours on it every night, updating the content, monitoring the bulletin board and uploading. I cannot afford to spend more time on improving the design."
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