World of India!: August 2006 e

World of India!

Fire at will.

BlogToon: The Bitter lessons from Ujjain....

Thursday, August 31, 2006 Digg! Add to Technorati Favorites

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GetSport: Poker's 'Hendon Mob' has a crazy horse- Ram Vaswani

Wednesday, August 30, 2006 Digg! Add to Technorati Favorites
Poker has been making a big comeback lately. Not that it wasn't already popular, but the game was essentially played and tracked by a core group of loyalists and fans, who had their own clique'. All that has changed and is changing ever more, mostly due to the advent of Television channels (like Discovery, Travel & living) and new media like Internet, covering the game and its stars extensively. Consequently, players who were known only to a few thousand people earlier have suddenly become celebrities known to millions of people world wide.

Ram 'crazy horse' Vaswani(second from left, above), is one such Britisher of Indian origin who has shot into the limelight, having been associated with the 'Hendon Mob'. The Mob is a group of four poker players, Joe Beevers, Ram himself, Barny and Ross Boatman, who play together as well as separately, in Poker tournaments worldwide. They win big too. Ram's 2006 earnings from tournaments, for instance, are reported to be closer to the $23,00,000 mark! What separates 'the mob' though, is that in a volatile game like poker, where you could win and loose BIG, from one day to the other, the mob supports each other, in times of distress. A small percentage of everyone's earnings is shared with the other members, providing them with the much needed stability, when their chips are down.

Ram used to be a first class snooker player, when he was a child, so much so, that had he continued playing, he could have been on the world stage as a cueist. Ram's brother ,Sunit has keep the family flag flying in snooker, having finished second in the English amateur
award, in 2001.

Ram's known to be a inveterate gambler, who will bet on "anything that moves". He wagers big on golf, sports events besides his bread and butter- poker. It is not unheard of Ram to be loosing and winning in the range of a hundred thousand dollar, in a matter of a few days!

As for his professional poker achievements-Ram won the European Superbowl in 2000 and narrowly failed to defend his title when he came in a close second in 2001. His victories include the Dutch Master Classics in 1999, the French Championship in 2002 and the European Poker Tour Irish Masters in 2004. In the 2002 World Series he came second and third in two World Championship events and followed that up with an impressive three WSOP finals in 2004(

In Aug 2001, the Mob launched their own website- It is now one of the premier poker sites read by hundreds of thousands of people, who use it not only to enhance their knowledge of poker, using the Mob's tips but also as a database of earnings of stakes earned and lost on tables across the world.

So when will Ram try and promote poker in India, where the game is still caught within the confines of private clubs and private parties ? Perhaps the time has not come as yet...but don't bet on it !

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CurrentAffairs : Open letter to a Nigerian Email fraudster

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Regular readers might recall my earlier article on email fraud, where I had reproduced an example of an email fraud offer, received by me. Now I have received one more. I don't know why these chappies have taken a liking to me, but I suspect it is because my email address is public, due to my Blog.

I have decided to email my response to the fraudster. It follows the fraudsters original offer letter to myself,below.

-----Original Message----------------


From: "Dr Ali Ahoefa"
Subject: Greetings from Dr Ali !!
Date: Tue, 15 Aug 2006 12:52:26 +0200

PHONE: 00226-78806779.



I know that this mail will come to you as a big surprise; I am the bill and exchange manager in bank of Africa. I hoped that you will not expose or betray this trust and confident that I am about to repose on you for the mutual benefit of our both families.

in my department I discovered an abandoned sum of 30.5m us dollars in an account that belongs to one of our foreign customer (MR.ANDREAS SCHRANNER FROM MUNICH, GERMANY), who died along with his entire family in monday,31 july,2000, in a plane crash. for more information visit this site below:

I need your urgent assistance in transferring the mentioned sum immediately to your account, the money has been dormant for years in our bank here without any body coming for the claim, i don't want the money to go into our bank treasury as an abandoned or unclaimed fund. so this is the reason why i contacted you, so that we can release the money to you as the nearest person to the deceased customer.

please i will like you to keep this proposal as a top secret and delete if you are not interested and if you are interested reply and call me for my urgent attention, upon receipt of your reply, i will send you full details on how the business will be executed and also note that you will have 30% of the above mentioned sum if you agree to transact the business with me and 10% will be for any expenses that will occur during the transfer why I will have 60% as my own share.


-----Original Message-----------------


Greetings Dr Ali Ahoefa,

Since this is the third such invitation I have received within a space of one month, I am ecstatic that three different people from Africa have been gracious enough to invite me to share a combined loot totaling approx. $100 million. Very tempting offers for a guy, whose net worth is only a small fraction of the amount.

I would like it very much if I manage to lay my hands on the wealth of Mr. Andreas Schranner. But I do not think the soul of Mr.Schranner would be very happy with a man in Burkina Faso and another man in India, enjoying the fruits of his wealth, which he so arduously acquired. The good thing is that we can twiddle our thumbs at Mr.Schranners soul and probably still get away with it, while we are down here. But one day, we would have to be at the gates of Hell and I can foresee that God would probably be naughty enough, to send Mr.Schranner to look after us. Mr. Schranner, according to the BBC report you pointed out in your email, was a property magnate. So chances are high, that God has put him in charge of allocating quarters to new inmates, in heaven and hell. So right from the time we enter the gates of Hell, Mr. Schranner might well be in direct contact with us. This is, as you can imagine, not a very comforting thought.

Secondly,Mr. Schranners grandson Maxmillian would be sixteen now (he died at the tender young age of 10, in the crash, according to the BBC report) and having been well fed and well exercised in Heaven, must have become a strong young man. Do you still wish to lust after Mr. Schranners money, my friend?

Thirdly, the worst part of going to hell these days is that, I hear, it is terribly overcrowded with 90% of the earthlings being sent there. This ratio was earlier much in favor of heaven. Naturally, property prices in hell are rising and Mr. Schranner must, again, have made a killing. I wonder how good a deal he would want to give me for a house over there, not to mention the kind of references he could leave, as regards me, with the Shylockian Bankers in Hell. Having recently seen my mortgage payments shoot up due to rising interest rates, I do not want yet another financial setback, at my final resting place.

I am sure you are beginning to see my point of view now.

So, I must regretfully pass this wonderful opportunity. I wish you give up this line of work, as soon as possible. Mr.Schranner is watching from above, and a real estate guy always keeps a mean score.

Good Luck.

You friend from India


I hope this drives these guys away from my mail box, in the future.

BTW, do also check out this article on the Nigerian email scam here, by Emeka, who is rightly worried about the impact these fraudsters are having on the image of Nigeria.

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BlogToon : Sonia Gandhi smiles at Gajodhar Singh (Yum Pee)

Tuesday, August 29, 2006 Digg! Add to Technorati Favorites
After completing his spot visit to inspect Pune's roads and giving a report to Sonia Madam, GajodharSinghji (Yum Pee) gets a call from a long time friend...

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SurvivingIndia: Which brand of bottled water should you drink in India ?

Monday, August 28, 2006 Digg! Add to Technorati Favorites
Water,Water everywhere, but not a drop to drink! The CSE (Centre for Science and Environment- a NGO in Delhi) had claimed in 2003, that all mineral waters available in India, save a few, contain extremely high level of pesticides (79 times to 104 times the permissible limit). All well known manufacturers if mineral water were docked, including well known manufacturers like Bisleri, Aquafina ( a Pepsi product).
Only two products passed the CSE test, when compared against extremely stringent European Union standards - Himalayan and Catch, both bottled in Himachal Pradesh. Incidentally, their level of pesticides was still marginally (0.4 times) higher than the EU limit. But of course, compared to brands like Bisleri (79 times), Kinley (Coca-Cola product-14.6 times), they passed with flying colors.

Himalayan is owned by the Mount Everest Mineral Water company, and is owned by Dadi Balsara, a maverick businessman based out of Hong Kong of Indian origin. More about Dadi Balsara in a seperate post, but suffice to say that he deserves a separate 500 word article, so strange is his story and so powerful his charisma.

The conclusion seems to be clear. Discerning customers should opt for Himalayan, even if it is Rs.3 costlier than other brands. After all, you don't want to quench your thirst with pesticides, do you?

Disclaimer: We are not paid agents of the manufacturers of Himalayan- although some times we wish we were :). For media articles publishing the CSE study, 'Google' on 'Himalayan mineral water' or click here.

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EtcEtc : Google search for 'Failure' surprisingly successful?

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Guess which is the first link Google search throws for the word 'failure'? Check it out yourselves or click here to see the results.

This one was broken on 'Shoutwire ' and by the time I saw it, had already received 192 shouts and was on the top of the front page.

Dubya's not going to be too pleased with Google after this : )

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GetSporty: Indian lad goes biking around the world- solo !

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Bharadwaj Dayala, a 36 year old Indian from Vizag, is doing what no Indian has done before. He is attempting to travel the entire world on a Hero Honda Karizma bike. Bharadwaj's profile on his Blog says that he is well trained in Paragliding, an accomplished trekker, rock climber as well as an expert sailor. He also has a black belt in Karate. Phew !

I was surprised to read Dilip Bam's article on this blog, which noted that Bharadwaj's trip was entirely unsponsored! That's a pity. Being a part of the corporate world, till not so long ago, I know the amount of money that’s thrown down the drain on completely useless pursuits. So its quite unfortunate that Bharadwaj's remarkable adventure did not get even one sponsor from the Indian corporate world, although the past few years have been remarkably good for them. But this guy is clearly made of much sterner stuff and gone ahead with the trip on his own!

Equally unfortunate is the fact that Bharadwaj's remarkable adventure has received very little publicity in the Blogosphere and mainstream media. Adventurers who attempt feats on this scale are remarkable men, but its natural for them to go into depression or feeling home sick, on such journeys. At one stage, Bharadwaj admits to feeling these very emotions on his Blog. His only solace are the cheers of readers of his blog, who give him the strength to keep moving.

Bharadwaj's last post was from Italy...have a dekko at some of the pictures he has posted on his Blog. And yes, do spare a minute to post an encouraging comment to fuel this trip to the end of the world!

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BlogToon: Pune roads - Spot visit to Sonia Gandhi

Sunday, August 27, 2006 Digg! Add to Technorati Favorites
Respected Member of Parliament (Yum.Pee) from Bilaspur, Gajodhar Singhji, was sent to Pune to give a spot report by Madam Sonia Gandhi. There is an uproar in Pune, over the fact that some aliens landed on Pune's potholed roads, mistaking it to be the moon and its craters. The Mayor threatened to resign, citing Pune Municipal Corporation Administration's bureaucratic (P.M.C) negligence in maintaining roads and promptly refused to carry out that threat 48 hours later, saying that the PMC had now repaired all roads and therefore, there was no reason left to resign!

Obviously the aliens did not agree to this when they made their fatal landing and died while negotiating one particularly tricky pothole.

Soniaji dispatched respected Yum.Pee Gajodhar Singhji from Bilaspur, for a spot visit, who frankly doesn't understand why everyone is making a big deal. After all in Bilaspur, there are NO roads- at least Pune has some!

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PopularCulture: 'Sideways' - Two friends, a week long holiday, Wine & Women !

Saturday, August 26, 2006 Digg! Add to Technorati Favorites
I saw 'Sideways' on video yesterday night, which is 2 years after the film was released. I hadn't heard of the film earlier. I got the video only because i read it was nominated for 5 academy awards and the Time' review line labelleling it "the best film made in 2004", on its cover.

For readers who have tuned in late, like I did, Sideways is a story of two middle aged friends who have known each other since Freshman year in College, Miles (Paul Giamatti) and Jack (Thomas Haden Church), who decide to go on a week long tour of the California wine county, just before Jack's marriage ceremony. The film is an account of this holiday week , ostensibly. But it manages to give us a peek into the tragic, comic lives that Miles and Jack are leading, their flawed relationships, fear of aging and failure.

Miles is separated from his wife and trying to get over the depression, since the last two years. He is a wine aficionado, who has a deep understanding of the process of making and tasting wine. In fact, the film uses wine as a metaphor for life throughout, so much so that it is almost the fifth major lead of the film. Miles has a thing for wine made out of 'Pinot Noir' grapes which he describes as 'needing constant care, affection and love, not a toughie like Cabernet Sauvignon, which can grow anywhere. He is really no different. A failed writer, rejected many times by Publishing houses and desperately seeking the same care and love. Jack, on the other hand, is a voice artist, by profession- a playboy who wants to "party" before the chains come on after marriage, and in the process, almost jeopardizes his oncoming marriage. Miles is a reluctant participant in this 'bachelor party' holiday, still recovering from the bruises of his failed first marriage. But Jack drags him in nevertheless.

During their travels, they meet Maya (Virginia Madsen) and Stephanie (Sandra Oh). They hit it off, Miles with Maya and Jack with Stephanie. Finally, when Stephanie realizes Jack's made false promises to get laid, she beats him up and the two beat a hasty retreat back home.

Nothing over dramatic happens in the film throughout. And yet, it manages to hold your attention. There is no 'in your face' humor and yet, you can't but help giggling as the two friends bumble down, from one hysterical event to another.

'Sideways' is the kind of comedy that I would like to see more often. It is a 'layered' film; which conveys many things, without even saying it; makes us laugh, without trying too hard; makes us think about our own lives and the direction in which they are going. There is no sermonizing, no moral posturing. Essentially it is a story of modern lives and its multi hued colors and tastes- a bit like the 'Pinot Noir 1961' which Jack has been saving in his cellar !

Must Watch!

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BlogToon: Indian Parliament reserves Shits

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EtcEtc: Robert Scoble is an Octopus from Techland

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Well, finally I popped Robber Scoble the big question. No, you perverts, I did NOT PROPOSE to himmmm!

But I did ask him (on a post in his iconic cult Blog), what I had been thinking about for some time now. How does he keep up with the gazillion things one has to know, on a daily basis, in the field of Technology, to write about them in his Blog? After starting to read 'Scobleizer' for some months now, I am amazed as to how the man keeps up.

So I decided to ask. And here's what Scoble replied here:



Let me in on your secret of knowing so many things which are going on at the same time. I will give you (half) of my soul."


Comment by uncommoncommon — August 25, 2006 @ 10:22 am
"Sarang: Skype. Phone. Email. Car. I use them all to learn the trends and build connections between people who build the stuff we all use."

Comment by Robert Scoble — August 25, 2006 @ 11:49 am


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EtcEtc : George Bush-Heaven or Hell Poll FINAL result !

Friday, August 25, 2006 Digg! Add to Technorati Favorites
Finally, readers from the world over have voted with their mouse(s) ! 'The George Bush deserves to go to Heaven or Hell?' poll is officially concluded.

I must say, Bush never had a chance. The closest he came to heaven was five days ago, when it was 66 % Hell and 34 % for Heaven. But other than this brief interlude (when presumably some Republicans visited the Blog), it has always been more than three-fourths baying for Bush to go to Hell. And that's how the end panned out for Dubya, in the end.

Long Live Democracy!

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BlogToon: Just another day in the life of an Indian Parliamentarian

Thursday, August 24, 2006 Digg! Add to Technorati Favorites

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GetSporty: Indian cricket team's new Nemesis- Stuart Broad

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Indian cricket fans better watch out ! There is a star in the making and he is not from India. Worst of all, he is a fast bowler- a breed which has historically given all our batsmen the hibbies jibbies. Ganguly dada might go into a bout of hysterical roshgulla eating binge when he thinks of Greg Chappel, to alleviate tension, but let me tell you, nothing can stop him from sobbing uncontrollably, when he thinks of all the fast bowlers he has faced and how they have tormented him : ). Forget Ganguly, is Tendulkar as confident a batsman, facing genuine quickies, as he is facing medium pacers and spinners? Be honest.

The truth is fast bowlers reduce our brave men with their batting machines to mush.

Our new Nemesis is called Stuart Broad. Continuing Cricket's glorious tradition of Father-Son stars, he is former England Cricket batsman Chris Broad's son. Chris was no lightweight himself, having won the 'Man of the Series' during the Ashes tour of 1986/87, when England won. Check Chris Broad's blog here for posts on the recent India- Sri Lanka- South Africa tri-series wash out controversy, where he was present on the spot. No wonder with such illustrious genes, Stuart has grown to be the man he is today and how! At 20, the strapping young lad, playing county for Leicestershire, is already 6 ft 7" and "growing" according to sports doctors who say, that he could grow 2-3 " more! The co-relation between fast bowler's effectiveness and height is positive to the extreme and this means that Stuart is going to prove even more lethal, than he is right now.

Lethal did you say? Stuart bowls at a nifty 84 mph, consistently, and that doesn't mean he can’t bowl faster. Just that he chooses to keep his line and length spot on and is already being compared to the likes of Glen Mcgrath! He is currently the most economical bowler in the Twenty20 Cup; in his six matches this season, 10 wickets have cost just 10.30 runs while conceding just 4.29 runs-per-over!

So fast, furious, miserly and lethal! Bring it on Stuart...see you in Mumbai against India, at the Wankhede, soon!

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BlogToon : Censor the Net !

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I have found a great site called Weblogcartoons, which freely allows you to reuse their cartoons (which are some of the best I have seen).Thanks Dave!

I found this excellent toon on Censorship in Dave's site and since I just wrote a piece on censorship on Indian Television, would like to show it to all of you.

BTW, censorship of the Net is not that far away, if the European Union has its way. The EU is trying to regulate at least the Television content broadcasted on the Net, although Britain has opposed the move. This was the status in Jan '06. Does anyone know what happened after to this? If this goes through, it won't be long before Governements start moving to censor the Net itself!

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CurrentAffairs : Adult content ban on Indian cable channels

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Couple of days ago I was flipping through T.V channels, when I hit upon several black screens, especially the Movie channels. In the evening I learnt that cable channel operators had blanked these channels out due to a High court directive to not show adult content on Television, without it having secured the necessary certification from the Censor Board. The cable operators were incensed that the Mumbai police had raided their fraternity for flouting this directive from the High court and hence took this measure. The upshot is that consumers across Maharashtra are being blacked out of some of the most popular television content- adult or not.

So should T.V. content be 'sanitized' and certified before allowing to flow through in our homes? Consider the following:

- There is no regulation on what broadcasters should telecast in India, no code of conduct, not even a trade association which self-regulates. Films in India, for example are governed by the Censor Board, Advertising industry is self-regulated by a trade body called AMFI, even the Marathi theatre is governed by its own Censor Board!

- Unlike the Film industry, where the pre-dominant mode of distribution is (still) going out to the theatre and watching the film, Television content visits your home willy nilly and, to that extent, is accessible to everyone in the home. Moreover, you can choose to go to a adult film alone on a theatre, but T.V. content is often watched by the entire family and as such, if some adult content flashes through the screen, the entire family has to view it, including often, minor children.

- Regulation of television content is a reality in most countries. In the USA for instance, the FCC (Federal communication commission) acts as the regulatory body. Broadcast stations are prohibited from airing adult content from 6:00 am to 10:00 pm. It is interesting to note that cable TV is "almost unregulated" in the States and yet practices self regulation due to fear that this will prompt the FCC to introduce stringent regulation! Consumers have a choice of getting adult content by subscribing to several pay channels, which are freely available.

It is generally accepted by every one that Television content needs to be regulated. The debate as usual is on the means to do it and, of course, the most important question of all - what constitutes adult content for the purposes for home consumption. The latter, especially, can be a very difficult nut to crack, given the fact that one man's drink can be another man's poison. Ask Pratibha Nathani and she might find a girl in a skirt offensive. Ask me and I might find a girl in a micro mini offensive and be upset as to why the director missed the chance to make her wear a bikini instead!

One of the major reasons why many people seem to be incensed over T.V. content is remix songs. I personally am of the opinion that if one were to measure skin exposed with a tape, the amount of exposure today is probably lesser, compared to the days of Helen and gang. But directors are playing it smart by making the actresses use their body language to convey raunchiness. For example, if you have seen the last remix done by Shefali Jariwala (cant remember the lyrics now), she is quite well clad, but mouths the lyrics in a way, which conveys obscenity. You can also watch the remixes by Sophia Choudhary or Deepti Bhatnagar. Its the same story with their remixes.

My personal opinion is that Indian T.V content, as it exists today, is ok for consumption. Some of the more risque' content is being shown fairly late in the night, anyways and that should be allowed. Nobody has the right to deny consumers their right to watch adult content, if they choose to. Like every art/media form and indeed,like every element of the society, it is trying to push the envelope and when the push becomes a bit too much, it will get a push back from other societal elements - like the latest one from Ms. Nathani. But should we overdo this push back, we run the danger of becoming over protected. Its time therefore, that the broadcasters themselves come together and self regulate themselves by forming their own regulatory body, rather than allow the like of Ms. Nathani to run away with the ball and tie the whole society in knots, from which later it becomes difficult to escape.

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EtcEtc : George Bush Heaven or Hell Poll

Wednesday, August 23, 2006 Digg! Add to Technorati Favorites
The George Bush- Heaven or Hell poll has got a fairly good response but I need to get a quick verdict out on this one.

Last two days and I close the poll. So get cracking and let the President know what's in store!The poll window's on the sidebar.

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BlogToon : Waiting for something to Blog...

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Get Sporty : Indian Air Force pilots travel India in a Microlight Aircraft

Tuesday, August 22, 2006 Digg! Add to Technorati Favorites
Ever wanted to travel around India in a small microlight aircraft at the height of 500 ft? Well two pilots from the Indian Air Force have been lucky enough to see this wonderful country in a matter of 21 days! Here's a link to their full story

The pilots did this feat in an Ultralight X-Air microlight manufactured by an Indian company -Raj Hamsa. When I first hit upon this company's website, I spent days dreaming of buying their microlights-one day..I am still dreaming:).

This company was founded by Joel Koechlin in 1980 and of all people JRD Tata supported it morally and financially, in its formative years.Today Raj Hamsa has sold more than 1000 microlights the world over. The microlights manufactured by Raj Hamsa are known to be not just sturdy, but also good value for money. So if any of you dream of owning an aircraft of your own, order one through their web site today!

Best of luck to Raj Hamsa and the brave Indian Air force pilots. And if you fly by where I am, stop by for a cup of tea- after all you only need about 275 mtrs of strip to land your microlight!

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EtcEtc : Blogger's Anthem mp3 download

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I found this song posted at Digital Inspiration, one of the best sites to get help on Technology.

This song is surely apt enough to be officially granted the status of 'Bloggers Anthem'. Play on and shed a few tears fellow bloggers...

P.S: The source file is unfortunately not loading well and therefore I have withdrawn the audio link. Instead I reproduce the lyrics :

I started a blog which nobody read.. When I went to work, I blogged there instead..I started a blog which nobody view..I started a blog but nobody came; no issues were raised, no comments were made..I started a blog which nobody read.. all I did wasn't that great but you must know here's what is said..I started a blog; I sent you the link; I wanted you the world to know what I think..I started a blog but when I read yours; it made me forget what I had started my for..

P.S1 : Damn link's working it is.

powered by ODEO

In case you STILL cant access the audio, go here to get it

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EtcEtc : Scott Wade's amazing Dust Art

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Once in a while you see something which is just extra-ordinary. An old friend of mine- Amol Abhyankar, has forwarded me some amazing pieces of art - drawn on the dusty back windows of cars !The artist is a dude called Scott Wade, who obviously must hate it, when it rains!

And SSSSSSS.........Drum Rolll....The Genius himself, ladies and gentleman- Scott Wade!

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Get Sporty : Pakistan ball tampering controversy- don't loose your Hair on nothing !

Monday, August 21, 2006 Digg! Add to Technorati Favorites
Inzy 'Aloo' Ul Haq is facing disciplinary proceedings related to the ball tampering fracas that has now grabbed the headlines. While the ICC conducts its disciplinary proceedings and allied investigations, it was surprising to hear some of the comments being played out, both by former cricketers of different nationalities, as well as media presenters.

Sample this:

"Darrel Hair should be banned from Cricket"- Imran Khan

"Accusing a team of ball tampering is like accusing a woman of prostitution, so before making such comments, strong evidence necessary"- heard NDTV sports editor Sonali chander repeating the comment made by someone, just before I switched on the channel to CNN.

"Ball tampering is part & parcel of the game"- Ajay Jadeja a.k.a 'fixer'

"Is this racial discrimination by Darrel Hair"? question posed by T.V presenter to Ex-Indian cricketer Srikanth

Before Darrel Hair even presents the circumstances to what led to his decision, his name has been tarnished. Past decisions by him have been presented as evidence of racial bias against Asian cricketers. Nobody is willing to wait for Hair to present his side of the story, AS IT HAPPENED YESTERDAY. President Musharraf has already supported Inzy. He took time out of his busy schedule to support Indian separatists to do so, which means the matter must be really important.

The only sane voice amidst all this mayhem, was of the ICC CEO, Malcolm Speed, who rightly said that the umpires has pulled off the game because Pakistan refused to come to the ground and the umpires had strictly acted as per rules. He pointed out, that Public opinion as to what’s right and wrong cannot be allowed to decide upon the events as they unfold 'live' on the ground.

Perversely, while both India and Pakistan are generally at each others throats in all matters, on cricket the two boards seem united as if they were twin brothers! In fact all S.Asian countries seem to have formed themselves in a united block, which is pitted routinely against the 'white' cricket playing countries like England, Australia, S.Africa etc. That a game like cricket which is known as the gentleman's game has got enmeshed in racial politics of the lowest order, is tragic to the extreme.

And yet, the truth of the matter is that ball tampering has never known any borders, color or race and almost every team has done it at one time of another. Ajay Jadeja is right that this has been happening for a long time and almost a std. practice in the game, but where he was wrong, was the way he made it sound as if it was an ACCEPTABLE practice. Its not. The ICC should go strictly by the book. The Cricket Control boards should support the ICC is going by the law of the game and not dig up racial dirt.The laws of cricket are clear and its time, all of us called a spade a spade and restore some sheen on this 'tampered' game, once and for all.

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Travellerr : Strange things have happened to me at Airports- Mumbai

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Continuing my series (read earlier article in the series here) on strange occurrences that have happened to me at various airports, here's another gem, when I was at the Mumbai domestic airport to catch a flight to Chennai. For a change this was a personal trip and hence unlike on my business trips, when I am usually dressed in formal clothes, I was dressed in casual clothes - jeans, t-shirt, get the idea. To top it all I was carrying a black sling bag which was rather huge. I was a bit tense that day, as I was carrying home made chili masala to Chennai from home. Indian airport security is known to not allowing chili powder in the handbaggage due to security considerations and I hated the thought that it might be confiscated. But I had already checked in my sling bag as hand baggage and thought that I will take my chances with the security.

Suddenly, I heard people whispering in the waiting area and turned around to see what the matter was. Surprise, Surprise- the entire Indian national cricket team was around me ! Ganguly, Dravid, name them and they were there. Some children and a few other people went to seek autographs, but people largely let the team be by themselves, which was surprising, although gratifying, at the same time. Ganguly (who was captain those days) headed straight for the T.V and started watching the replay of the earlier match's action (West Indies was touring India that time) intently. If you ask me, he was just showing off people around that he studies cricket even in his travel time, but that’s my opinion. I was quite struck by the fact that all the team members were very patient with the people seeking autographs, who were smiling at them goofishly, and signing autographs, without showing any trace of irritation.

Shortly, even the West Indies team landed in the same area. Both teams were flying off to the next matches venue.

As I headed for the security check, to my surprise, the entire Indian cricket team also joined the same queue. As my turn came to hand over my black sling bag in the scanning machine, I glanced at the security personnel, who to my utter surprise, gave me a warm 100 watt smile. I was taken aback. I knew this was not because of my charms but I smiled back nevertheless. He actually helped me put the bag on the rack of the machine and then- stretched his hand for a hand shake! Having seen him and other security personnel shaking the Indian payers hands, I realized that the security personnel had mistaken me to be a part of the contingent, due to my outfit and most important, my black sling bag, which was exactly the same as the Indian players.

Suffice to say, that aside from the machine scan, I was allowed to sail through security. At the body check point, I was not even frisked properly and another couple of handshakes later, I walked out of the security area beaming ! I felt like royalty!

My dear chili powder was saved- thanks to India's national cricket team!

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BizNpersonalfinance : Raman Roy close to buying Vertex !

Friday, August 18, 2006 Digg! Add to Technorati Favorites
I had written about the ex-ceo of my earlier company moving on to greener pastures after selling that company and the prediction that he was sure to carry on with selling 'Vertex' the BPO subsidiary of his new firm. There have been strenuous denials from his new company, which operates in the 'Utility' space in U.K, but I had predicted that the deal was very much on, knowing our ex-ceo's penchant for re-structuring deals. Turns out I was right.

Vertex is now in advanced talks with Indian BPO entrepreneur and a man many people credit for starting the BPO revolution in India -Raman Roy. A deal may happen soon and is in the 600-1000 million range, per Economic Times.

Read more dope from Forbes magazine on the same deal here

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EtcEtc : Top researchers list 11 reasons behind the Blog pandemic

Thursday, August 17, 2006 Digg! Add to Technorati Favorites

-Most people who Blog are sure that they have 'gifts‘, which are waiting to be 'discovered'. Finally, all these people have hit upon a publisher who won't (or to be more precise- can't) say 'No'. So Bloggers conveniently take that as a 'Yes'.

-Many people who would normally quit Blogging a month after they have started, hear about people like Darren Rowse and their “six figure incomes“. Hope then springs eternal in the human heart.

-If we don't write and read and link with each other's Blogs, who else will?

-Blogging does not need any technical expertise, as long as you can manage to press CTRL+C and CTRL+V, in close succession, repeatedly. The rest is mere detail.

-Bloggers are entrepreneurs who want to help the earth. They believe in forward and backward integration. They can produce content, become their own readers, click their own ads and often write comments to their own articles. In other words they can produce and consume in an endless eco-sustainable manner.

- If you are unemployed, Blogging gives you a license to tell your mother-in-law that you are now a freelance 'writer'.

- To get girlfriends, kiss & tell, to solicit sex, to dream of making money sitting at home, get cheap thrills from virtual fights with virtual enemies, acquire bragging rights, copying rights, squatting rights - in other words, everything that you always wanted to do but were too bald and boring to try.

-To be the ‘Expert’ and ‘Thought leader’ on a range of topics you scarcely have a clue about.

-Even if your life sucks, you can still manage to make people feel jealous of you, after they read your posts or your profile.

-So that you can help guys like Darren Rouse make their millions, under the ostensible reason of helping you make the same.

- It is an excellent addition to your already considerable nuisance value.

This post was written as part of a Problogger group writing project

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BizNpersonalfinance : A funny 100% TRUE story from legendary investor Marc Faber

Wednesday, August 16, 2006 Digg! Add to Technorati Favorites
I have been a keen follower of Marc Faber, the legendary Swiss investor who now lives in Thailand. See 'BizNpersonalfinance :Investing in Indian Equity? Brace yourself ! ' in our Archives,for more dope on this cool dude.

Marc write a Investor Newsletter which is keenly awaited by investors the world over. Unfortunately it is a paid service and cannot be accessed through his website, but its worth every penny you pay for it. There also used to be a market commentary section which was free, but Marc has recently decided to make that a paid section too, the proceeds of which go to a Thai charity. So those of you who can afford to pay $200, go ahead and subscribe. Having read all the past issues, I can attest to their value.

If you are interested you can also peruse through the 'Lifestyle' section of the site. There is a hilarious true story of a hunting expedition gone wrong in Michigan. Stomach splitting stuff@

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EditorsEdit : India- staunch in adversity or the stench of insensitivity?

Tuesday, August 15, 2006 Digg! Add to Technorati Favorites
The Indian Cricket team is in Sri Lanka these days and were greeted by a bomb explosion, a few kms. from there hotel. Five years ago I had stayed in the same hotel when it was the peak season for Tiger terrorism in Lanka. The area where the hotel is situated is near the Presidential Palace. Naturally, the whole place is cordoned off amidst the strictest of security, with checkpoints and machine gun totting security men almost every few yards. So if the Tigers managed to breach that kind of security, I would be concerned if I were a team member or the BCCI.

Surprisingly, the Indian players are 'cool' in this situation, screamed the Times of India. The report says that the Sri Lankans too have taken it in their stride. When a lankan player,Jayewardane, was asked about the explosion, he is said to have 'coolly' replied- "these things happen...we have to take them in our stride". Cool dude, huh? In fact the whole TOI report made it seemed that this kind of attitude was something to be proud about. While the Indians and the Lankans were 'cool' and 'relaxed', the S.Africans were accused of being 'scared'.

Well maybe, the S.Africans have their heads in the right places, for starters. People like us and the Lankans have gotten so used to hearing about people being blown off that we have lost our sensitivity to such news and often tend to shrug off the danger. While it is natural for this to happen, we should never loose sight of the fact that this is NOT a natural state of being. Being afraid, outraged, angry IS the natural state of being. Since we cannot obviously be all of this ALL the time, our bodies are coping by being non chalent while INSIDE ourselves, we are all getting more and more angry and frustrated. I feel its important we should be aware of this. Because, come one day, we would not even know what to go BACK to! The media should also play this thing in perspective. Every time there is a bomb blast/shootout, the media shows us visuals and images which show how people are getting back to 'normal' very quickly. Is there a choice? This is not being brave- its just that people have to go on with their lives.

Talking about the media and terrorism, another thing which is quite disturbing is the fact that media is increasingly running stories which is giving people ideas as to how they can breach security. A few weeks back a news channel ran a sting and showed how easy it was to land on the Indian coastline with bombs, another one showed how the water supply stations were completely without security and can be easily poisoned. The channels made it sound as if the Government machinery was being inept, in that they could not guard every nook and cranny of this vast country. Is it realistic for anyone to expect the Government to guard every nook and cranny of our country? The B.B.C wasn't far behind in being stupid either. After the recent London episode where some people were nabbed for a plot to blow up airplanes, B.B.C ran stories repeatedly, on how easy it was to make liquid bombs "with stuff you can find in any corner shop". The dodos actually hired an explosives expert to give demonstrations of how it can be done easily! I am sure that the millions of people who watched the B.B.C didn't know of this earlier. Then why give people these ideas? The B.B.C has also gone on to give a detailed explanation of liquid explosives and how exactly they can harm airplanes on its web site. Is the B.B.C or any of these Indian channels helping security personnel by broadcasting such stories?

Creating awareness is one thing, but being irresponsible and stupid, quite another.

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EtcEtc : Pause for a moment to ponder...

Monday, August 14, 2006 Digg! Add to Technorati Favorites
On working for a big company- anonymous

"Working in a Big Company is like wearing a condom.. It gives one a
feeling of faith,recognition and security, while you are getting screwed..."

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CurrentAffairs : Why has rainfall in India increased in the last 2 years?

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As everyone in (parts of) India is aware these days, the monsoon season from June- September, has become the season for destruction in India. This used to be the season which was keenly awaited by farmers ( a bulk of Indian agriculture still depends on this seasonal rain, rather than other forms of 'man managed' water supply), people working in the downstream agro-economy chain, stock market punters (Indian economy is still pre-dominantly agricultural in its form and content) and last but not the least the rest of the general populace. After the second consecutive year of record rainfall, floods over large parts of the country, dis-placement of hundreds of thousands, destruction of agriculture by the same rain that was supposed to foster it, has led people to wonder whether a new pattern of weather has started in India- a pattern where its hotter than normal, during March- June (peak Indian summer), and wetter than usual from July to September.

Many theories abound and no one seems to agree as to what's leading to this seeming change in the weather pattern and in fact whether this is really a change at all !

Some researchers believe that the variation in temperatures or rainfall might seem large, if seen over a period of last few years, but if seen in the context of the last 100 or so years or recorded data, this change is not so significant.

Others contend that we have a serious problem at our hands. Predictably, most of them lay the blame squarely on a beast called 'Global warming'. Get the full dope of Global warning on Wikipedia here. Another excellent FAQ on the topic can be found here. Check out the global climate hot map for Asia here.

It is not without reason that researchers have divided opinions. While some debate the issue due to pure scientific reasons- there are many others who are merely pawns in the global political games played on the issue. The developed countries, who are the most responsible to add to the 'greenhouse effect', are reluctant to cut down on their emissions according to the mandated targets of the Kyoto Protocol. Fast growing Developing nations (India,China, Brazil) are unwilling to cut down on their emissions, since they believe (rightly) that the bulk of the responsibility lies with the developed nations. The least developed countries have no voice and will only have to suffer the impact of the problem, while not having any say in the decision making process. It is scientific lobbies and research institutes promoted by these governments and/or NGO's, ascribing to a particular econo-political school of thought, and which have vested interests to promote that often end of up using hijacking the agenda, of what otherwise should have been a scientific problem.

But, of course, science is too important to be left in the hands of scientists alone!

If you have any answers to the question above (Why rainfall in india has increased in last 2 years?), you can post your answer here. The question, asked by one Abhinav B, on YAHOO! Answers, is a very pertinent one, but has not received any bright answer so far. Maybe you can change that.

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EditorsEdit :Satyendranath Dubey case- did the Indian Express get it all wrong?

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Although, I personally like the Indian Express and its street fighting instincts, in terms of picking up issues which are of concern to us as a nation, broadcasting them and continuing to ask probing questions to those in authority- this job can really be a minefield. Often a newspaper has to make a choice whether to publicize and form public opinion, based on facts as they are available at that point in time. Once an editorial stance is taken based on those facts, the die is cast. It can be extremely embarrassing for a newspaper later on to learn later, that the facts of the matter have changed and its earlier editorial stance was completely wrong.

Take for instance, the case which involved the head priest of the Sabarimala shrine (read a prior post on this issue:, who was implicated in a case of sexual mis-conduct and who was widely reviled across the media. It was subsequently found that he had been framed, at least in this particular case. I did not hear any of the media house who had given wide publicity to the case, apologizing for their earlier slanted reports.

Or take the latest events in the Satyendranath Dubey murder trial. For those who came in late, here’s an excerpt from an earlier Indian Express, to get the dope of the matter :

"The Indian Express had first highlighted the case of Dubey, National Highways Authority of India project manager, who was killed on November 27, 2003 in Gaya. Investigations had revealed that Dubey had written to the Prime Minister’s Office complaining of corruption in the Golden Quadrilateral project. However, the CBI charge sheet filed on September 3, 2004 against the four accused said Dubey was murdered after he resisted a robbery attempt."

Note the 'However" in the above report, which tries to convey that the CBI had got it wrong by omission or commission. The Express had went to make a big hullabaloo about the entire Dubey episode, accusing cover up, demanding justice for Dubey and so on and so forth. The Express has always had a soft spot for IIT's, IIM's and their graduates and one of the grouses I have is the dis-proportionate coverage it allocates to these institutions. The fact that Dubey was an IIT graduate allowed The Express to slant the story in the 'India's middle class honest and brilliant' being wronged by the corrupt mafia of U.P,Bihar mode. The Express persisted with reporting this issue in such a biased manner, that the Government, under pressure, set up a CBI enquiry.
The CBI has now deposed before the Supreme court, with its findings, which were reported by The Express- no, not on the Front Page, as it published the earlier reports, silly- but on one the inside pages-

"‘During the investigation of Satyendra Kumar Dubey’s murder case, involvement of any contractor/mafia was not found. Investigations named four accused — Mantu Kumar, Udai Kumar, Pinku Ravidas and Shravan Kumar, all residents of Katari village in Gaya, Bihar. They were arrested and the CBI also recovered Dubey’s personal belongings and the weapon used in the crime on the disclosure statements of the accused,’’ the status report filed by CBI in court said."

So clearly the Express had got it all wrong. Although the CBI found irregularities in the NHAI contract, which Dubey had complained against, there seems to be (basis investigations done by the CBI), no connection with his murder as the Express had alleged but was purely a case of robbery.

So am I saying that The Express should stop taking a stance, or raking up issues which concern us public? Not by a long mile. What I am saying though is that all responsible media houses should:

- Place facts and let the public be the judge
- The media house should take a stance on a particular event/issue, but only in the editorial, not the news item!
- If they are proven wrong, they should have the decency to apologize about reporting such wrongs to set the record straight.
-Most important, check their facts as much as humanly possible and then report facts, not opinions.

The Express clearly is falling short ofthe above standards, at least on the Dubey case, as I write this. But of course, to the Times of India, one need not even dare suggest anything, lest they not even comprehend what journalistic duties you are referring to!

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Travellerr : Strange things have happened to me at Airports - Schipol

Friday, August 11, 2006 Digg! Add to Technorati Favorites
Yes, strange things have happened to me at airports. Given the fact that I am prone to be (slightly) forgetful, these strange occurrences sometimes have had the potential to turn more into a tragedy, than a comedy. But my skill in being Aware and of One Mind has often come to my rescue ;)

But today, I shall leave readers with one of life's amazing co-incidences. This one happened to me when I was waiting to catch a flight back to Mumbai at Schipol (Amsterdam). Me and my ex-boss ( a hefty Dane named Casper Bahnson), reached in time to catch the flight, but for some reason KLM postponed the flight by a few hours. Both of us slipped in the Business Lounge and helped ourselves to a drink (or two). Those days I used to smoke and walked upto the smoking section. But of course, I did not have the darned light, since I knew it would be confiscated at the airport. I went up to an oldish Indian guy and asked him for the light. Something made me sit next to him and start talking to him (usually you won't catch me talking to a strangers, by myself). He introduced himself as Jay Ullal. Nothing clicked. We yapped on about airports and how it sucked waiting for a flight. I asked him what he did for a living. He said he was a photographer. My heart skipped a beat. "Are you THE Jay Ullal"? I asked. He laughed, Pipe smoke sputtering out..." Yes, I am".

Now, I am not a great photography fan. It had so happened that when I was barely in my secondary school, I happened to read a 'Marathi' magazine which comes out only in Diwali. That magazine had a feature article on Ullal and his work. The article made a lasting impression on me, both in terms of the photographs and the man's life. Ullal is a celebrated photographer who at one time worked as Photo Editor of the famous German Magazine 'Stern'. He had left India in the 60's for Germany and joined Stern. The stint at the magazine ensured that Ullal traveled the nook and cranny of the world covering all the major socio-political stories of the day (Bosnia,Iraq,Zaire,Cambodia- he was the first to capture POL Pot's genocide,Bangladesh,Philippines,N.Korea etc. to name a few).Ullal is the only guy whom Yasser Arafat allowed to click his picture, without his 'Keffiyeh' (Arab Headgear) and who Osho Rajneesh allowed to click pictures of the controversial Osho Ashram, in Pune, from inside. His photographs from his assignments in the various strife torn hot spots, helped create a new awareness in the world, about the human suffering and destruction there.

For his extra-ordinary achievement to the world of reporting and photography, Ullal was awarded the highest civilian award for humanity and culture in Germany (Van Verdienstkreuz)

When I had read that article on Ullal and had seen the pictures he had taken, one picture had especially remained with me, for all these years. The picture of a couple, who had just married, walking amongst the bombed out ruins of Beirut, during the Civil War in Lebanon. The couple was Christian and Muslim and it was a powerful image of how love had decisively conquered destruction and killing, amidst the ruins of war torn Beirut. I told Ullal that, that picture was still fresh in my mind, like I had seen it yesterday and it was from that picture, mainly, that I remembered his name and work, after so many years. I said it was so strange that of all the photographers and photographs, I so vividly remembered him and his work alone, and that I should have needed a light and walked only upto him, to fetch for it. A retired from work Ullal, who had lived through some pretty tumultous and dangerous moments himself and clearly knew about life's strange twists and turns, took a drag on his pipe and smiled contentedly.

We talked about his retired life, his home in Mumbai and his Mercedes cars, smoking in the lounge. Ever the photographer, Ullal asked me if I could get him permission to shoot in my office, since the outsourcing story with jobs being farmed in India was just breaking out on the world scene, in 2002.

Finally, they announced that the flight was ready. We exchanged cards and said 'Au Revoir'-perhaps at another airport...

Don't miss reading Rediff.Com's story on Ullal here and, most important, view some of Ullal's memorable photographs here:

You can buy Ullal's work on Amazon here :

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EtcEtc : Stop Press!

Thursday, August 10, 2006 Digg! Add to Technorati Favorites
As you can see we have turned over a new leaf, in terms of look and feel of the Blog. Some might wonder why. But its really not my fault. I know that a template with Chairman Mao stamps, for a Blog named- World of India, may not be the most appropriate. But aside from this one anomaly, which I do not know how to correct, the rest of the template is SOOO perfeccct, that I just couldn’t resist the change. And I must say, it looks great!

So those of you who liked the old look, don't blame me, blame Gecko and Fly, who designed this WICKED template.

P.S: Was able to get rid of Chairman Mao, but sigh, I miss him already...

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CurrentAffairs : Netizens beware- Email frauds gaining fresh currency

Wednesday, August 09, 2006 Digg! Add to Technorati Favorites
Email frauds have become a familiar feature in India, claiming many an innocent (?) victim. The reason I question whether all victims are indeed innocent, will become apparent as you go through the various forms of email frauds that are being practiced in India and of course, world over. Some of the most common email frauds in India are :

1) Phishing: Sending fraudulent messages on behalf of a company and seeking to gain personal and financial information(ex: credit card numbers, internet banking user id's and passwords), which can be exploited to defraud the victim.

2) Various 'help' requests : Email asking for financial help, in return of which, a large amount is promised eventually. There are various forms in which 'help' requests arrive at the victim’s doorstep and fraudsters constantly keep adding new twists to their tricks, once the original trick is detected by investigation agencies and warnings are issues to people. Some of the most common 'help' requests are, to seek the victim’s help so as to enable release of large sums of unclaimed money from a bank/financial institution, in return of which the victim is promised a cut ranging anywhere from 25-50% or more. The fraudsters, often, gain the victims confidence by talking to him on the phone and faxing/mailing fraudulent identification papers, which seek to prove that they would be able to get the money released. I personally received the following offer from fraudsters, who claim to be in Burkina Faso. I reproduce the letter received verbatim, so that readers gain a good view to the modus operandi :








3) Fraudulent offers to buy goods/services at cut price rates, provided victim pays in advance.

In India, scores of people have come forward till now, confessing that they have fallen victim to these frauds. Many people have transferred tens of lakhs of rupees, in pursuit of 'unclaimed bank accounts',' treasures', which never materialized. A bigger problems is the fact, that most of the perpetrators reside in African countries, especially in West Africa, where prosecution of fraudsters, even if they are caught, is a real issue. Bribery is rampant in police forces of many of these countries, but the sheer scale boggles even the minds of Indians, who themselves, are used to Bribery at home. This means that its easy for the perpetrators to escape, even if they are apprehended. The other problem is expatriation treaties, or the lack of it , with many of these countries having no expatriation treaty with India.

The outlook is rather bleak. It seems that Netizens have to protect themselves and the best way to do this is fast dissemination of information via the Internet itself to the general public and novel methods to defraud society at large are introduced. But at a larger level, these frauds won't stop, till the countries of origin take stringent action against the few, which are bringing disrepute to entire populations.

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CurrentAffairs : Well Well Well... .How do Corporate Re-structuring deals get struck? One example...

Tuesday, August 08, 2006 Digg! Add to Technorati Favorites
I had promised readers earlier, that I will write in detail about the events in the last two years or so, in my earlier company, which incidentally was a multi-billion dollar global MNC and was sold by a C.E.O, after just a year in office. The story is extremely interesting and readers would be forgiven to think of it as corporate fiction, when they do read what I surely intend to write.

But that has to wait for another day, another moment.

For now, I have just read about something interesting about Mr. C.E.O. He moved on after selling off my company to another British company as its C.E.O. Things were quiet for a while, on the news front, although knowing his style, I know it must be a whirlwind of activity in this company, after he took over. I am sure the employees would be feeling on top of the world, new revolutionary ideas are being executed with good planning and precision. The employees must be getting a feeling that for the first time, they have got some one who is charismatic, inspiring and a lot of fun, some one who listens, some one who knows the issues and most important , some one who acts. All this is, I am confident of. Mr. C.E.O has remarkable abilities, for sure.

Now that the year is done, since he has joined there, I started scanning for news results in Google, on the name of his new company. Voila! Sure as hell, there it is! "Outsourcing subsidiary of company 'X' up for sale" screams the headline. But wait a minute, the buyer seems to be an Indian I.T services giant, for a billion U.S.D or so.

Strong denials have been issued 2 weeks or so ago, by Mr. C.E.O.

Hmm...but just how could this Indian I.T company act exactly after Mr. C.E.O joined his new company?It just so HAPPENS (pure co-incidence, nothing else) that this I.T company was ALSO the preferred vendor, for my sold off company and had done stellar work in writing an ERP package for us. This I.T company was smart enough to keep an eye on Mr.C.E.O and his next job position. They must have kept in touch with him. If he joined another company as C.E.O, may be they could use the relationship built over the last year or so? Lo and behold...they struck gold with the company our C.E.O joined, having a BPO unit, which was EXACTLY the kind of acquisition, these guys were looking for, to gain fresh business.

So I don't give much currency to denials of Mr. C.E.O. He has protested similarly, when he sold my earlier company. The deal is sure to get struck, if not now, a little bit later.

Congratulations to the Indian I.T company for keeping their eyes and ears open..they say God helps them who helps themselves...I am ringing my broker to buy that I.T stock I always wanted !

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EditorsEdit : The Times of India Vs The Indian Express

Monday, August 07, 2006 Digg! Add to Technorati Favorites
A friend of mine and myself have often been accused of 'eating the Indian Express' for breakfast, in a teasing manner, by the former Director of my B-school. We, in turn, pounce on him for being loyal to the Times of India. This has been going no for almost five years now and surprisingly the argument is still relevant. The only difference being that the Times readers have increasingly got nothing to argue about when one starts talking about some of the requirements for being a decent National News paper - viz : connectedness to the ground reality of that country, superior journalistic talent, ability to stir up debate which pushes a nation to reflect and act on its problems.

About 10 years ago, people had started noticing the fact that the Times had increasingly started adding a’ Lifestyle', 'Aspirational' angle to its entire content. Some high profile journo talent actually quit the Times in protest. It was and always will be a city elite paper, but things went on to a level, where even this became passé'. The Times (or more precisely, Sameer Jain, the proprietor, who is credited for both the fall in the Times’ journalistic standards and also its incredible rise in commercial success) realized that the city elite' would like to read about the Global elite', after globalization in the early 90’sand the resultant free flow of information and opening up of possibilities for the national elite' to become a part of the global elite', themselves. So the Times cleverly started writing about parties in Davos, night clubs in London and New York, Caviar and Wine- not in a once in a while kind of way- but as a matter of routine. The Banner interview (Sunday supplement dtd Aug 6’06)and quote of Bipasha Basu (read article below), where she casually explains that the only reason why she bought a Porsche, is for the parking convenience of her Driver, is a perfect example of the kind of stuff that typifies what passes as journalism in the Times, today.

Make no mistake, commercially its all happening for the Times. Having shifted to being more of a magazine and a tabloid, the wannabes are still reading the Times with vigor and they love all that is being dished out. And since we have become a nation of wannabes as a whole (naturally a story which the Indian Express analyzed and wrote brilliantly, in their Sunday supplement on the same day, Aug 6, on which the Bipasha pearls of wisdom appeared in the Times) , the Times is raking it in. No quarrel against this. The Times has a right to decide its editorial stance and it is exercising it, and a particular (growing) class of readers seem to be loving it. So why are we carping?

We are not. Our only submission is that given the requirements for being a national newspaper, as spelled above, the Time is no more than a glorified tabloid, which also HAPPENS to report on politics and general news items.

The Indian express on the other hand, has decidedly turned over a new leaf. The Express always has been a class apart in term of its Journalistic courage. It is, in many ways, India's most credible opposition. Remember Bofors when the Express virtually single handedly fought the Govt. in exposing the scandal? Or remember its relentless attacks on the perpetrators of Godhra in Gujarat? I can go on listing hundreds of incidents and pieces where the Express has had a courage of conviction and fought for it, tooth and nail. The Times on the other hand is a wimp. It believes in collaborating with the Govt. of the day and has consistently avoided jeopardizing its commercial interests, at all costs.

Despite all this, it is the Times which is winning at the cash register. Its circulation is up, ad revenues are sky rocketing and the bubbly flows on. Sameer Jain’s marketing and distribution prowess is still on its roll.

There was a time , when we had feared the Express would just buckle under and demise, until Shekhar Gupta arrived at the head of its helm. The Express has now plugged the gaps in its arsenal. You can almost feel the spring in the steps of the paper. It has added features pertaining to lifestyle, fashion, food, travel and has remained relevant to the demands of the city slickers, while at the same time not compromising its 'connectedness' to Indian realities and content that reflects these.

We are shamelessly rooting for the Express. We hope one day it nets more money than the Times does. But more importantly, we hope it continues to write and report in the manner it does today, while making that money. After all, we read a newspaper to be educated and informed. If we want to read about celebrity gossip and the High Life, we can always read ‘Savvy’ or ‘Society’.

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EtcEtc : Bipasha buys a Porsche for her DRIVER'S comfort !

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India's latest heart throb, Bipasha Basu, has an incredible confession to make. The quote so flabbergasted me , when I read it, that I almost fell off the sofa.

In the Sunday Edition of the Times of India, where the sex bomb was interviewed, Bipasha casually remarked "I am not crazy about cars and i don't like to spend foolishly. I was still happily using the Honda city from my modeling days. Because it was a little old, no one would believe it was my car and the poor driver had to suffer. On a trip to Dubai, I saw this SUV, liked the way it looked and bought it. Imagine! I bought a Porsche for quick parking! Deepak in really happy.” she laughs.

The reporter goes on to marvel at her fondness for people...can this get any more unreal, people?

I am sure even the Sultan of Brunei would probably not have the courage to say, that he bought a Porsche so that it is convenient for his driver to park, but then this is Bollywood- where the lines between reality and fiction are barely visible, at best.

Me suggests a new tag line for the Porsche advts: Porsche - Be kind to your driver,park easy !

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EtcEtc: George Bush deserves to go to Heaven or Hell? Poll result so far

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While I am at it, I thought I will let our readers take a sneak preview to the poll that we are running (see left sidebar), where we have asked a very touching question to our readers: Does George Bush deserve to go to Heaven or Hell.

Results so far : 66 % of the readers feel that he deserves to rot in Hell, while only 33 % feel that he should be able to partake of the pleasures of Heaven.

However, if you ask me, Bush would be most appropriate as 'Yama' the Hindu God of Death, who has to discharge the unpleasant duty of snatching people away from their loved ones, and is therefore much hated. That automatically means that although he would know hell intimately, he would ultimately head to Heaven, to take rest after the rigors of the day.

I am sure there are many readers who dis-agree with me, so keep voting with your mouse and let Bush know what he deserves!

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EtcEtc : Post Script -Top three revolutionary computer business ideas for Microsoft, Google,Symantec

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Regular readers might remember our article in 'EtcEtc' Dtd. Aug 4. 2006 (Top three revolutionary computer business ideas for Microsoft, Google,Symantec). Those who joined the party late will do well to scroll down to get a complete download, but essentially, we had recommended an 'Online virus scanning service for home users, similar to a currently operating business model for corporates, where an Enterprise System is monitored, protected from virus attacks and cured, if the firewall fails, by an inhouse I.T team or as is increasingly the trend by a vendor sitting in India.

If you had read the comments, I had a interesting exchange of views with reader 'std', who explained some of the barriers to this idea.

So it came as a pleasant surprize to me, when I read an article, which talks about essentially the same ideas, titled 'Touching Base' by Sobha Menon in the Economic Times on Sunday, Aug 6 '06. I reproduce below an excerpt.

“......this is are enterprise security service, but we have plans to extend it to individuals soon,” says Kaushik(Country Head, Trend Micro). Other services in the pipeline that the individual could look forward too, according to Kaushik, are an anti-virus online monitoring service that was designed for medium and large enterprises with over 400 Pcs.

“We can today bring it down to 30-50 Pcs, but it will take some time before the home user gets a service like that. It would be a a complex technology that can monitor home Pcs 24/7, but it’s being developed — you can expect it next year, perhaps,” says Kaushik.

So it seems that I wasn't so far away in predicting the future, albeit also not alone. Cheers to that!

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CurrentAffairs : Cote D'Ivoire and Pakistan blaze to be the next I.T superpower

Sunday, August 06, 2006 Digg! Add to Technorati Favorites
Information technology professionals watch out! A bright new future heralds you in, of all places, Cote D'Ivoire and Pakistan.Two news items caught my eye today@ the following link: (

First, Cote D'Ivoire (which accounts for 40%of the world's cocoa besides being rich in oil and minerals) has established a I.T and Biotech park. The park is strategically situated - opposite the Presidential Palace - so that should a coup take place, the flight back home is not too far away, provided the Presidential plane can accommodate you, of course. Several executives, from my ex-company had to be airlifted by the French Army in a Chopper, last time around. Maybe the President forgot to offer them a ride, because they were not in the I.T line.

Intrigued by Cote D' Ivoire's diversification into this unrelated economic endeavor, I decided to check up on some facts about the country in the C.I.A's fact book, and found that it indeed has some wonderful advantages over Silicon Valley and Bangalore, in terms of giving your employees an adventure filled work life- ain't that today's new H.R mantra, anyway? Some excerpts: ".........In December 1999, a military coup - the first ever in Cote d'Ivoire's history - overthrew the government. Junta leader Robert GUEI blatantly rigged elections held in late 2000 and declared himself the winner. Popular protest forced him to step aside and brought runner-up Laurent GBAGBO into power. Ivorian dissidents and disaffected members of the military launched a failed coup attempt in September 2002. Rebel forces claimed the northern half of the country, and in January 2003 were granted ministerial positions in a unity government..........Growth was negative in 2000-03 because of the difficulty of meeting the conditions of international donors, continued low prices of key exports, and severe civil war. In November 2004, the situation deteriorated when President GBAGBO's troops attacked and killed nine French peacekeeping forces, and the UN imposed an arms embargo. Political turmoil damaged the economy in 2005, with fear among Ivorians spreading, foreign investment shriveling, French businesses and expats fleeing, travel within the country falling, and criminal elements that traffic in weapons and diamonds gaining ground"

Ready to go west and catch that plane to ' Yamoussoukro', young man ?

Just right below this gem, another piece caught my eye. Pakistan, which has also diversified into I.T, after Uncle George from the States, pulled down the plug on its chief export viz., Terrorism, seems to have hit pay dirt! Check this out :

Pakistan's IT exports hit $72 Million (!!!)

Islamabad: Pakistan's information technology (IT) industry has registered exports worth $72 million in the financial year 2005-06, a record 56 percent annual increase over exports of $46 million in 2004-05.

Our chief correspondent tried to find out the main product and service lines of the Paki companies and it turns out that they specialize in the installation, measurement and analysis of explosions in crowded areas (especially commuter trains). That’s the product offering. Service wise, they can offer state-of-the-art DIY packages in smuggling and putting together of components, to build your very own 'Enola Gay', in your backyard. Once you do that you HAVE TO use the products to install, get the idea. How's that for forward and backward integration?

And at this rate they could soon overtake India, which is expected to end up with a measly $24 Billion, in domains as unexciting as Banking, Insurance....YAWN ssss

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