World of India!: January 2007 e

World of India!

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The Indian Air force wants "trans-oceanic" reach , ISRO wants to put an Indian on the moon, Vidarbha farmers want a life

Tuesday, January 30, 2007 Digg! Add to Technorati Favorites
Three un-related news items that, in reality, are closely related.Comments in brackets are mine.
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Gandhinagar: India needs (or wants?) an aerospace command to exploit the outer space and it will be established soon, Chief of Air Staff Air Chief Marshal SP Tyagi said on Sunday.

The Indian Air Force is in the process of establishing an aerospace command to exploit outer space by integrating its capabilities (can you pl learn to fly the Mig 21 properly instead?), he told reporters here.

"We are an aerospace power having trans-oceanic reach (fat use it is to us). We have started training a core group of people for the 'aerospace command'."

The IAF Chief was non-committal on exact time frame of setting up of the aerospace command (means you will not stop till you waste tens of billions of dollars in this unnecessary enterprise).
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Nagpur: Five cotton-growers in Vidarbha region of Maharashtra have committed suicide after crop failure, taking the number of such suicides to 33 since the New Year.

Two of the five farmers who ended their lives on Sunday hailed from Akola district while one each was from Buldana, Nagpur and Yavatmal, Vidarbha Jan Andolan Samiti (VJAS) president Kishor Tiwari said here on Monday.

In the 72 hours preceding this tragedy, eight other farmers had ended their lives, Tiwari said.

The previous year's toll in Vidarbha was well over 1,000 - almost at the rate of 100 suicides a month.
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Bangalore: An Indian will walk on the moon in 2020. Or so the Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) maintains.

On ISRO's giant leap forward, Nair said, "If humans do not venture into space, the (our/my) future will not be bright. I don't think we can lag behind in this race. We must be in the forefront."

The budget for the man-in-space project is estimated to be Rs 10,000 crore-15,000 crore. The moon mission will cost much more (and money grows on trees in India).

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Jane Goody can help 'Incredible India' !

Thursday, January 25, 2007 Digg! Add to Technorati Favorites
Jane Goody, the contestant on the now infamous show 'Big Brother' has been thrown out of the show by the U.K audience (she ragged Bollywood actress Shilpa Shetty on the reality show) and having got out, she's now "embarrassed" the Indian Govt., by accepting the offer made by the tourism dept. of India to visit India "to partake of and understand India's rich diversified composite culture." The Times of India reports that since Jane has now accepted the offer publicly in an interview, tourism officials are now squirming in their seats and that the Tourism minister Ambika Soni and the Congress party are not to happy with the advts. which were released.

When the Indian press reported the release of the adverts. at the height of the controversy, I was seriously impressed by the alacrity shown by the ministry in riding this wave of public interest about the show and Indians, and using it to promote tourism in India. But it now seems that my earlier opinion , that entrepreneurship and Government are oxymoronic in nature, still holds. Had this not been the case, the Govt. would have jumped at this opportunity and continued to ride the massive wave of publicity that has been generated. It would have been to desirable to hire a good event mngt. firm, televise Goody's travels in India widely, shower her with the best of hospitality and then get her to speak positively about her experiences during her tour.

Doing this would not only help the cause of better race relations (Goody has already tendered an unconditional apology about her behaviour) but more importantly, create an awareness about India among a section of U.K population that would, in the normal course, never have thought about visiting India, for a holiday.Spending five to ten thousand pounds on Jane goody can easily fetch us a few hundred tourists, who will spend , many time the same amount, immense good will plus invaluable P.R for India and its tourism potential.

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Hair loss problems? Call Dr. Batra...er...Dr.Mukesh Batra...

Tuesday, January 23, 2007 Digg! Add to Technorati Favorites
Some hilarious excerpts from the Rediff chat with Dr.Mukesh Batra. The persons named Dr Mukesh Batra, Doctor Batra and Dr Mukesh Batra ANS below, are actually fake users who'r using the name of the real Dr. Mukesh Batra and writing this in the 'questions' section of the chat . Lol's !
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teeef says, DR batra to kat leeye, ab bhai log aap log bhi kaam par jao and aaj ke baad aise 'bhairupiye' ke chakkaron mein mat pado, its better u people go to some good doctor. The whole concept of Dr Batra's is to make money.(full stop)
Dear Sir, My mother who is around 50 years old has black spots in her face..is there any treatment for this?
Babuji says, frauddoc! can you show your "doc" cert? was it issued by Idi Amin?
Dr Mukesh Batra ANS says, I am GONE. BYE FOR NOW. See you in my clinic.
bachee says, baldness thru heridity is curable..?
Dr Mukesh Batra ANS says, Hey...I got to go to DUBAI now. Sorry I am leaving with my girlfriend. CIAO

pappu says,
abbbc says, sorry sir, had u looked into my case the result would have shown,, but not with ur inexperienced set of docs in bangalore.
pappu says, r u there doctor or gone
ashutosh says, Dear Dr Batra, pls reply to me after smoke.

Dr Mukesh Batra says, Hang on everybody....shall be right back.
abbbbbc says, ur tretament is all fraud dr batra, with all due respect to u, but that is a fact. You hire all fresh graduates who have not got any experience in homeopathy and what you do is all pure business and no treatment. i have ur patient with no improvements in my 'thinning of hair'
Chat says, I think the chat window should be closed by Rediff sysadmin
susant sabat says, Sir Good Evening I have problem of isnopholia. I am getting cold regular interval

Babuji says, doc, why have you gone bald?
Babuji says, hello fraud doc?
Dr Mukesh Batra says, Hello Tel me.
Doctor Batra says, WAIT LET ME GO FOR A SMOKE, THEN I WILL COME BACK
shanoo says, Dear Dr. Batra, My name is Gurshant and 32 y / M, My height is 5' 10" and I wiegh around 95 Kgs and following are the diffuculties that I am facing. I have a high BP since long time, due to the regular medication I have devloped this serious ACIDITY, due to this there is constant heaviness and burping and also pain in the chest and upper back. I cannot concentrate on my work. Also can u suggest any medication for High BP. I know I have a very sedentary lifestyle, please suggest!!
anitakasturia@sify.com says, dR. WILL YOU AVAILABLE TOMORROW ALSO. I STILL NOT GOT THE REPLY. ANITA email anita_kasturia@rediffmail.com
vasudevannv says, REDIFF.. WHERE ARE DR ANSWERS???????????????
afzal_alam8 says, Dear doctor My fatahe(51) is Asthama patient, He is suffering with that since last 20 YRS. please advice what should i do
shanoo says, please answer the questions sir.. thank you
reddy99 says, sir iam also facing problem with dundruff. what is the solution
bala says, dear doctor, my mother is 52 years old, is suffering with pain at left hand thumb, at times she'll not be able to life an empty glass also. She also has swelling on left leg below the knee and it is numb at times, pl. suggest suitable medicine
Doctor Batra says, I AM HERE..
ashutosh says, i am 33 yr old male,and have acute allergy problem, i have got first major episode of allergy attack in 1998 when my eyes were swollen, itchy, red and eyelids were so swollen that my eyses were to total closed, it reduced on its on in 2~3 days time and then ok, since ten it has happened at least 20 times. my allergy starts sometimes with redness of eyes, sometimes with itchyness in throat, smtimes runny and clogged nose. pls adv

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Ban on AXN and Priya Ranjan Das Munshi's hidden agenda

Sunday, January 21, 2007 Digg! Add to Technorati Favorites
Priya Ranjan Das Munshi has assumed the role of the nanny of India's television audience. He has just announced a ban on the television channel AXN for telecasting a programme called 'The World's sexiest advertisements'. I have seen the programme a couple of times and can aver to the fact that the programme telecasts advertisements that are extremely funny, well crafted and yes, with mature, but NOT tasteless content. In my opinion many of the Bollywood and especially the South Indian film songs telecast during prime time are far more suggestive and some times even pornographic in nature.

But who can agree with Das, who feels an irresistible urge to display his power and pomp. Here is a man who has been the President of the AIFF (All India Football Federation) since 1988. India continues to slide down the world rankings from 99 in the November 1993 FIFA rankings to 148 this November. Even the bit of separation that India achieved between its neighbours a decade ago has gone with the South Asian countries tightly clustered around with Myanmar at 150, Sri Lanka 156, Bangladesh 158, Pakistan 165, and Nepal 172. Read all about Priya Ranjan Das's record as, head of the AIFF, on www.soccerblog.com, here.

Kuldip Nayyar, one of India's most respected journalist has written the following about Das in The Telegraph-

"Priya Ranjan Dasmunshi was a hatchet man during the Emergency in India. What Sanjay Gandhi, who ran the country at that time, liked about Dasmunshi was his uncanny ways of needling the media, particularly the Ananda Bazaar Patrika group of newspapers in West Bengal. But Dasmunshi’s regret was that he never got the chance to legalise the illegal. Mrs Indira Gandhi was defeated at the polls......In the name of de-bureaucratising the ministry he has played havoc with its working. It has taken him time to place his “trusted men” at key places. Now that he has done it, he has the launching pad ready. Dasmunshi’s first salvo is the Broadcasting Bill. Luckily, the Left, the leading ally of the ruling combination United Progressive Alliance, has expressed its doubts. Post-Stalin comrades are sensitive to the press freedom. This has made Sonia Gandhi retract. Otherwise, Dasmunshi was all set to have the Bill passed in the current session of Parliament. Imagine what he seeks to do, as a few leaks suggest: The Government of India will have powers to shut down any TV channel or broadcasting station in “public interest.” Even a deputy commissioner can order local cable operators to stop disseminating any programme from any channel.This is a crude form of censorship, authoritarian in content and in violation of Article 19 of the Constitution which makes freedom of expression a non-negotiable right of any Indian citizen. But then Dasmunshi is a practical man who has learnt from the days of the Youth Congress that it is the power that counts, not principles. The difference between what he did during the Emergency and is doing now is that he had to circumvent the Constitution then to impose censorship but today he brazen-facedly brings a Bill to muzzle the media. I am amazed at the audacity of the minister when he argues that the Broadcasting Bill is “media-friendly, progressive legislation, not seen anywhere in the world.” The word, progressive, must have undergone a change since he has become minister. Dasmunshi has singled out the English media for attack. “Do their journalists enjoy freedom in their own organisations and is their work not subjected to pressure from the management?” he asks. I can assure him that “the pressure” which he talks about is the fallout of the Emergency. That was the watershed. That was when established administrative procedures and conventions were subverted for the benefit of individuals, who had contacts at the “right places.” When the government could do so, why not others?Never before had the newspaper management dared to suggest even indirectly what to print or not to print. The chit “BM” (Business Must) was thrown in the wastepaper basket whenever received in the editorial room. Since those who gagged the press during the Emergency got away with the crime without being punished, the newspaper management has followed suit. The press freedom has been the casualty from those days. Dasmunshi’s Bill, if pursued, would have reduced the constitutional guarantee to a farce."


So shameless is this politico that while he seeks to ban T.V channels and impose his brand of puritanism and piety on Indians, he himself is free to abuse the power he has. A few months before, many in the Indian media widely reported the fact that Das ensured that Doordarshan, a state broadcasting channel cover the Doorga puja's that his wife participated in on Prime Time news, for more than any other important news worthy event of the day!

The issue is not just about AXN and the ban on this one channel. The issue is about the unbridled abuse of power that ministers like Das indulge in and their blatant attempt to control public and private media, so that they tow the line they are told.

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Misery and heartache in Chennai

Saturday, January 20, 2007 Digg! Add to Technorati Favorites
HudsonDino has written a nice piece about his travel to Chennai. I must confess that whenever I see a foreign tourist on the street, I feel a twinge of pity for him, for all the travails and shocks I know she has to endure or is enduring -the constant haggling, the ever present danger of being cheated in every transaction, and in some cases, out right stealing and even physical violence. As a foreign tourist, who is trying to taste the REAL India on the street, you would have to bear and beat all of this, make no mistake. It is only if you are the five star variety, can you afford to buy 'protection'.

And in Chennai, why just for a foreigner, even Indians who are not native to Tamil Nadu routinely face a torrid time. In fact, I remember saying to a visiting English colleague, who I had taken out for dinner once, that I felt as much a foreigner in Chennai as she must feel. I have lived in Chennai in two different stints for almost a year and, I must confess I hated the place. It was probably largely due to the fact that I was quite lonely in Chennai,staying away from family, friends and living alone for the first time in my life- than the city and the people itself. But the Chennai autowallah (See pic of the perenially not working Auto meter!) and the insularity which any one who does not understand Tamil feels in Chennai , did not make life easy. Then there were other minor, but collectively important irritants. The beer (yes - even Kingfisher, tastes different); some of the better alcohol brands are completely unavailable;finding a woman who is easy on the eye is awfully difficult anywhere; the weather is muggy and gnaws at your energy while you get haplessly sweaty and wet down to your underwear, if you walk for even 10 minutes, outdoors; the food can get dreary after a while- how long can you appreciate sambar, curd and rice ?; Chennaites have this dreadful concept of 'private' parties rather than going out to a public party and when I stayed there, affordable North Indian food was not so widely available, as I have heard it is now.

So when actress Meera Vasudevan says "Come and explore with me, the real Chennai Macha" on Discovery Travel & Living, I for one, would say " No, Thanks. Not again"!

But what the heck- HundsonDino loved it, at the end of it all. I am glad his story had a happy ending.

He must be the hardy type.

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How to attract women? How to attract Men?

Friday, January 19, 2007 Digg! Add to Technorati Favorites
Researchers who publish 'quickie' research need to be put in a zoo. You know the kind of research I am talking about...Eating raw cabbage can prevent heart attacks! screams one headline and should you start to eat cabbage, some one else will publish another piece claiming it can give you Cancer, if not AIDS. But researchers also know that this kind of research is a sure eye grabber. So they keep up with it and publish the sham underbaked results of their torture on mice, monkeys and pigs, with disturbing regularity.

So was anyone shocked when the following headline was published and commented on widely, in some of the best newspapers and television channels around the world.
The mating game: Women play copycat, men look out for rivals
So what was the fuss about?


Yahoo!U.K has published the following AFP report



"A lonely man desperate to find a girlfriend might be well advised to hire a few women to smile at him -- and let female copycat genes run their course.British psychologists have discovered that, when sizing up a man, a woman takes her cues from other women around him. If those women are looking happily at him, that has a big influence on the woman's assessment. The more female smiles there are, the likelier she is to consider the guy a catch."


Now,can anyone answer one basic question for me? Why would women smile at a man, in the first place, for another woman to become jealous and attracted to him? Obviously only if they find the guy attractive! So where's the question of women being attracted to a guy because other women smiled at him?

If some one from Scotland gets hold of Mr.Benedict Jones of the University of Aberdeen and socks him, for carrying this 'research' and wasting the time and energy of millions of males around the world, I would be grateful.


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Mumbai's Beer Can serial killer strikes again and so does the Times of India

Thursday, January 18, 2007 Digg! Add to Technorati Favorites
The Mumbai Beer Can serial killer is suspected to have killed another victim on Marine Lines. However, there is not much of fear among the general populace, since the killer seems to be striking at only street homosexuals.

And if it is anything related to the Gay community in Mumbai, can Ashok Row Kavi resist commenting on it : )? The Gay activist has deemed it fit to issue a statement rubbishing the profiles released by the Police about the killer and stating that in his (Kavi's) opinion, the killer was a well to do person, probably owning a car and not from the middle/lower-middle/poor strata, as the Police seem to believe (or what Kavi believes the police believe)!Kavi has come up with this theory because the killer has left a trail of Kingfisher beer cans at all his crime scenes and Kavi says that Kingfisher beer cans are routinely consumed by people in cars- so the killer must be a well to do person. Hmm...why can't he be the employed driver of some one else's car? And its just not true that beer cans are only favoured by the well to do. I have seen many not so well to do people consuming beer from cans and not the glass bottles, purely because with disposable cans, your cash your outgo is only Rs. 35 for Kingfisher (mild) beer, whereas if you buy a 650 ml bottle of beer, you have to shell out almost double the amount.

In a related event, the Times of India has pulled another coup of sorts, when it comes to photographing people. Earlier it had done so when an intrepid photographer in Bangalore insisted on capturing the pictures of India's finance minister on a family outing, despite the ministers protests, and was lambasted for doing so by the minister. Today, the Times of India's Mumbai edition has published the photographs of a woman with her full name, who has claimed that she has seen the killer with a knife, when she was walking by Marine Lines. Splendid! So all the serial killer has to do now is to trace this woman and...

Why are some of our media people so hungry for an 'exclusive' when they know that it might hurt the people concerned? So that they can then move on to suggest the solutions to all the nations problems, in their editorials, sanguinely?

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President of India A.P.J.Abdul Kalam asks a question on Yahoo! Answers

Wednesday, January 17, 2007 Digg! Add to Technorati Favorites
President A.P.J.Abdul Kalam has asked a question on Yahoo! Answers :

What should we do to free our planet from terrorism?

Read my answer by clicking HERE. Many people have tried to answer the President including Kiran Bedi, Sri Sri Ravi Shankar, Leander Paes, not to mention Batman! You would need to scroll down to read my answer filed under 'Uncommon Common Man'. Vote for my answer : )

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Racist Indians protest racism against Shilpa Shetty in Big Brother

Tuesday, January 16, 2007 Digg! Add to Technorati Favorites
Shilpa Shetty's co-participants in 'Big Brother' are being accused of racism. According to NDTV, 2000 viewers have found it fit to complain to the U.K. media watchdog about the racist slurs used against Shilpa.

NDTV asked whether racism is a reality for Asians abroad and 95% of the viewers said 'Yes'. Is anyone surprised?

Perhaps the better question to ask would have been, is racism a reality in India? The unpalatable answer to that would be that ,as Indians, we are arguably the most racist people on earth. The Brits and Americans are angels compared to us. Look at how systematically upper castes discriminate against lower castes, or one religion discriminates against another, in our country. To look at how our entire lives are ordered around our caste, community, religion, state, even colour of skin, one just has to scan through the matrimonial ads in any newspaper!

Racism in India is not even limited to the uninformed and the less educated. It is as prevalent amongst our most erudite and educated. To give just one example, a famous prominent socialite fromMumbai, made a public comment in a news paper, that if the municipal ward where he stayed ( a elite city area) was reserved for SC/ST/BC candidates, there would an automatic erosion in representative standards- automatic!

So drop your outrage fellow Indians : ). Big Brother, above, is watching.

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Is 'Big Boss' scripted?

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Both me and my wife try to catch up on 'Big Boss' - a reality show telecast on Sony, whenever we can. One of the main attractions of the show, for me at least, is that it is 'cheap' (whatever that means). Since I also like Govinda and Shakti Kapoor, you can probably gauge, one of the genre's of entertainment that I dig.

My other pre-occupation while watching the serial, is to find evidence for the nagging suspicion that the show is in fact scripted and not a spontaneous one, as claimed by the producers.

Yesterday, I found one.

It so happens that at the start of the programme, SONY showed a teaser where they showed the sultry Kashmera Shah being smuggled in the house where all the participants are locked in and stealing the ginger which Ravi Kishen likes in his tea. Then the show started with a shot of the participants waking up from their sleep. What does everyone and most of all, Ravi Kishen talk of the exact same morning? Tea of course! He speaks of how he would like a steamy ginger waali chai or words to that effect. What a co-incidence!!!

And who do I think will remain in the house at the end? I think Carol will take the cake, for being the likeable, non-political person, she seems to be.

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Burkini - first look

Monday, January 15, 2007 Digg! Add to Technorati Favorites
A not so teeny weeny swimming costume for Muslim women designed by a company in Sydney , Ahiida

Pic Courtesy: http://www.mondo-canuckistani.blogspot.com/

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John Grisham hauled to the court for playing detective in real life

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Author John Grisham of 'The Firm' fame, amongst many other worldwide hits, is now himself in the dock. It seems that Grisham couldn't resist getting to the bottom of a mystery involving anonymous letters received by the wife of the head coach of his son's baseball team. Grisham probably thought that given his writing experience in crime, this would be a breeze.

Things went horribly wrong when the object of Grisham's investigations (another parent) filed a suit against him, for securing information submitted by her in the school for handwriting analysis purposes.

Now a Judge has ruled that Grisham must face trial in this case and the hunter has become the hunted!

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Mumbai socialites vomit racial bile ahead of BMC elections

Sunday, January 14, 2007 Digg! Add to Technorati Favorites
P.Sainath of 'Everyone loves a good drought' fame, has written a brilliant piece exposing the activist socliates of Mumbai whose activism is limited only to giving interviews on television screens or dirtying the Marine Drive with their pedigreed dogs pooping all over the promenade.

These armchair activists are now casting open racial slurs by stating to the media that because their wards are reserved for the SC/ST/OBC's, in the upcoming BMC elections in Mumbai,it automatically means a lowering of standards. This is not only patently false (for the simple reason that the so called people with higher stds, from these societies are not capable of even coming out to vote, let alone dirty their hands in the hustle bustle of democratic elections), but more importantly a racial slur which tries to typecast caste with ability.

This is not an accident. Open shameless attacks, from upper castes, of this nature, under the guise of a desire to keep standards high, which are actually nothing less than a need to further and perpetuate selfish hold on resources and opportunities, have been a feature since some time now. The difference is that these attacks are getting uglier by the day and there is a urgent need to tell these people that such attacks wont go unanswered.

I am glad Sainath has done this.

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Veer Sawarkars IIT educated grandson - a Beggar in Pune

Saturday, January 13, 2007 Digg! Add to Technorati Favorites
Channel surfing today i happened to tune in to a local cable channel which was showing the local Pune news. Since they seemed to be interviewing a beggar, I was a bit surprised. It turned out though that this beggar they were interviewing was none other than the grandson of one of India's greatest freedom fighters, Vinayak Sawarkar, who was also the founder of the Hindu Mahasabha, an ultra right organization.

The person in question was the son of Prabha Sawarkar (Sawarkar's daughter) and what's more an IIT engineer by education who has now fallen on to bad days. It seems that this person has worked across the world for his job with the U.N. and had married a Thai woman, when in Thailand. This led to his family ex-communicating him. On his return to India, he neglected his health and was also afflicted by a back probem which has now made him almost immobile. This led to him having to quit his job and slowly to penury and begging. He told his interviewer that should he receive medical treatment, he can easily get back to a job which will enable him to earn enough to support himself.

What a story! A highly educated IIT engineer, grand son of Sawarkar (who has been an inspiration to the entire right wing movement in India and has a following even after so many decades which must surely run into tens of millions of people) with a job with the U.N and now a beggar!

Now that this cable channel has broken the story, lets hope that organizations which deify Sawarkar, help his poor grandson, who is literally lying on the streets, in front of the famous Sarasbaug Ganapati, in Pune.

Update: Sahara News has just reported that a Maharashtra Navnirman Sena activist has taken this guy to his home.

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Incredible India - Best of Flickr Photographs (1)

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There are some wonderful photographs that various people have captured on Flickr, which are sadly lying neglected. To feature those, I will publish a few of the most special from here and link to them (click on the picture to view the rest of the series). Here goes -

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India plays it smart at Wagah border Vs Pakistan

Friday, January 12, 2007 Digg! Add to Technorati Favorites
We have all seen the Wagah Border ceremony on T.V, where soldiers on both sides indulge in a dramatic show of sorts and try to outdo each other when it comes to stomping their feet, closing the border gate with a flourish and similar shows of 'national might'! Now India has asked its soldiers to tone down this unnecessary show in tune with the times and finish their bit in a business like manner, instead of a show of hostility.

This is one of the wisest decisions we have made and although it sounds trivial, carries deep significance. Its evidence of the fact that India is 'moving on' and has realized the futility of martial shows like these which belong to another day and age. India realizes that engaging in these kinds of spectacles, merely underscores our own inadequacies and its time that we engage our attention to more meaningful and real issues ,that both our nations have neglected to grapple with.

The contest, if at all, should really be about sustainable economic strength, quality of life and ultimately, the state facilitating, in whatever way it can, a happy life for its citizens and not military rhetoric, histrionics and build up of killing machines, at the cost of our deprived populations.

That India was the first to realize this and implement it at Wagah shows who is ahead of the race right now. Pakistan's President Musharraf has already realized this when he said just a few days ago publicly, that Pakistan's needs to compete with India on the economic front and peace with India is the need of the hour. But it's a sign of how deep rooted attitudes are when you hear Lt.Col., Tariq Janjua, Commanding Officer of the Pakistan Rangers at Wagah railing against the Indians for toning down the show at Wagah when he says


"The Indians should instead show their will for meaningful peace by stopping aggression in Kashmir and try to resolve real issues," he said.



Well, the old habits of old men....

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Vishnu idol found in Russia - is Lokmanya Tilak right about the origin of Aryans?

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Here's an incredible story written about by credible sources.


" An ancient Vishnu idol has been found during excavation in an old village in Russia's Volga region, raising questions about the prevalent view on the origin of ancient Russia. The idol found in Staraya (old) Maina village dates back to VII-X century AD. Staraya Maina village in Ulyanovsk region was a highly populated city 1700 years ago, much older than Kiev, so far believed to be the mother of all Russian cities."


This reminds me of Lokmanya Tilak's thesis that the Aryans originally came to India from the Arctic Circle, in his book 'The Artic home in the Vedas'. The idea is said to have struck Tilak while reciting the shloka from the Rig Veda, a copy of which was gifted to him by Max Mueller, a celebrated Indophile and Scholar. While reading the Rig Veda, Tilak was struck by the statement `Suryodayat prak bahuni ahani asan' meaning `many days have passed before the sunrise'. This phenomenon occurs only in the Polar region and the logical conclusion therefore was that the original home of the Aryans was in the area of North Pole.


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Not so noble questions to Nobel laureate, Robert Aumann

Thursday, January 11, 2007 Digg! Add to Technorati Favorites
Sidharth Rao, founder of Webchutney, a well regarded interactive media firm, has written a good post on obnoxious behaviour of some of the Indian audiences while attending a lecture by an Israeli Nobel Laureate (who may not be such a noble man, himself, after reading info Sidharth has dug up on Aumann!).

Believe me, I have seen worse.

Psst....Aumann, a hard line Jew, is planning to visit Kochi to meet the Jews living there. Cochin Jews, also called Malabar Jews are the ancient Jews and their descendants of the South Indian erstwhile state of Kingdom of Cochin which includes the present day port city of Kochi.

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Why did a Extra Terrestrial U.F.O take off from Chicago's O'Hare International airport?

Wednesday, January 10, 2007 Digg! Add to Technorati Favorites
This report from Newsweek, might just make you think twice, if you are sceptical of the existence of Extra terrestrials and their magnificent flying machines (U.F.O's).

This is the first time I have read a mainstream publication seriously questioning the credibility of the U.S. Government on this matter.

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On security checks using racial profiles

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My mother-in-law seemed quite happy over dinner a few days ago. A wealthy widow has bequeathed a substantial sum to the NGO she runs and her barrister wanted to transfer the cash, she informed me. Her only problem was the Barrister wished to transfer the foreign currency, by courier and that would be an offence under FEMA. I asked her for the print out of the email and read it. I then had to break her heart by informing her that this was a email scam and the man was just trying to fleece her. Reading the language in the email and having received several scam emails from Nigeria earlier, I said, " probably a Nigerian guy living in London..". Was I stereotyping an entire nation and profiling all Nigerians as fraudsters?

I am looking back at this incident which happened but a few days ago, after reading that a Nigerian minister has protested that British Airways and Virgin Atlantic are insulting Nigerians and treating them with utmost contempt, when they travel on their airlines, during check-in procedures.

Perhaps. I do not know the exact details behind the accusation except what has appeared in print.But at the same time it is also a fact that Nigerian fraudsters and criminals are active almost throughout the world, in various criminal activities, especially in what is now known as the 419 crime or Nigerian email scam.

This email scam has spread its tentacles, thanks to the reach of the Internet, so far and wide across the globe, that this one scam alone has imprinted Nigerians with the stamp of criminal behaviour, in the minds and files of Police Depts. across the world. Matters are not helped by the fact that many Nigerians have emigrated from their country and live a difficult life in their chosen country and some of these individuals take to crime. In India, for instance, many Nigerians are known to be active in drug peddling, in many big cities in India.

Neither the 419 email/postal scam (named, incidentally, after a penal code in Nigeria) nor drug peddling is the exclusive preserve of Nigerians, but the bitter truth is that, the proportion of Nigerians involved has been found to be on a higher side. A contributory factor is the rampant corruption in evidence in Nigeria, which allows criminals to go scot free, despite police from various countries trying to solicit co-operation from Nigerian authorities.

Given this body of knowledge, and given the statistics of Nigerians apprehended and convicted in foreign countries of many serious crimes, including drug peddling, would you support the airlines that take extra precautions by checking Nigerians, more rigorously ?

Take another example. It is well accepted that terrorism is a global phenomena and terrorists belong to different religions. At the same time, it is a incontrovertible fact that Muslim terrorists and their attacks are the dominant feature of terrorist phenomena worldwide, not just in terms of their reach, but also in terms of sheer numbers. According to statistics of the National Counterterrorism Center, a national government organization of the United States, Islamic extremism was responsible for approximately 57% of terrorist fatalities and 61% of woundings in 2004 and early 2005, where a terrorist perpetrator could be specified.

Give this knowledge, if a police officer (belonging to whichever religion, himself), be more on guard when a Muslim passenger comes for a security check at an airport, would you understand it as a necessary precaution or would you term it as discriminatory?When the Khalistan movement was at its peak, was it not natural for security personnel to be more on guard when checking Sikhs? After all Khalistanis did not have members belonging to the Muslim religion, as far as I know !

All security screening techniques have to necessarily incorporate forming 'profiles' and profiling as a technique necessarily has to depend on information (often historical) and its analysis, which isolates distinguishing characteristics and patterns, of the criminal or criminal behaviour. These characteristics might be pertaining to looks, income, psychological make-up, socio-political dogma or - religion,race. But unless this analysis is performed, profiling is impossible and without profiling, looking for criminals would be like looking for the proverbial needle in the haystack.

Does this make me less angry when I was frisked more stringently than normal at various international airports? No. But can one understand the rationale' behind it and accept it as inevitable and even necessay? Definitely.

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Stereotypes of Bengalis, Maharashtrians,Punjabis, Gujaratis....served grilled !

Monday, January 08, 2007 Digg! Add to Technorati Favorites
The Bengali: Most Bengalis are in love with themselves and believe passionately in the theory that eating fish heads is what powers their battery. The trouble is that the fish in the Sea of Bengal, looking for revenge, are starting to mutate in a manner that is leading their asses to assume the shape their heads. I shudder to think what would happen to the world when the Bengali continues mouthing 'Intellectual' stuff in a few thousand years, as is his wont now.

The Maharashtrian: His name art 'inferiority complex'. He tries to hide it by acting superior, shouting about his glorious heritage three hundred years back and such like. But in this brave new 'baniya' world where the shop keeper is the new warrior, his goose is cooked and what's more- he knows it.

The Punjabi: The Punjabi is India's Amriki, foraying into lands unknown to open the Dhaba and wahe guru di kripa, take over the place. Confidence is his strong suit and he genuinely believes that the civilized (oye,chak de phatte!) world starts in Ludhiana and ends in Chandigarh.Rapacious, noisy animal.


The Gujarati: Together with North Indians, in general, Gujaratis are past masters at hogging public spaces. But his own flourish is evident in the way he dirties it with farsaaan, sewai,dhokla and asssorted snacks.Families are pests as travel companions. Generally industrious when it comes to sitting on his ass at the cash counter for long hours.

South Indian Software techie: The English stinks but he doesn't- thanks to two baths in a day. Software is the new Southern Railways, Bay Area the new Mylapore. The women are smarter (and more articulate) than the men, in general, and they both know it.Appearances are kept outside to save face, but once at home, fear takes over.Fear of god,fear of appa,fear of amma, fear of wife.The only thing he is not afraid of, is fear itself.

Mallu Omnipresent: He can be found everywhere except in his own state,where he is hell bent on harakiri. 100% literate but completely unemployable. Is curiously schizophrenic in terms of twin tendencies of both helping fellow mallus outside the state and also pulling them down, when they try to climb out of the basket. He accomplishes both tasks by joining an union.

The Bihari and the Bhaiyya:Cockroach like survival instinct allows them to survive anywhere. Can get restless if things are working out smoothly without their pushtaini 'jugad' systems. A very common name is Scam Kumar.Has left farming for the fertile fields of IAS, IPS where the 'jugad' is alive and well.

The Aspirant: 'Inadequacy' thy name, Aspirant. Always seeking the Ultra cool, Ultra chic orgasmic moment, but never quite there.

Urban Ultra cool: has figured out sex & computers before he was 5. Likes to portray cool aloofness but is frighteningly ambitious.Sickening power of self control and an ability to say 'no' to temptations, before his CAT,GMAT, GRE exams. His moksha is to be a multi-millionaire and get that ultra-chic chick.

Urban Ultra-Chic Chick: A sub-type of the category above,she can feign a foreign accent at a seconds notice and shed it the next moment,when haggling with the Bhaiyya taxi wallah.Can speak Hindi in a foreign accent if and when needed. Known to scare sophisticates from abroad with her knowledge of what's in- abroad mein ji.Moksha means marriage to a multi-millionaire munda. Her last unfinished business in Chic-land is to appear dignified even on the pot.THAT will be the day, I tell you yaar...

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Tavleen Singh wants her dog to poop freely in Mumbai

Saturday, January 06, 2007 Digg! Add to Technorati Favorites
If you ever have had the opportunity to read Tavleen Singh's rantings in the Indian Express, you have probably read this. In a column titled 'City plights' in June 2006, Singh cries plaintively thus-

"It is the humble view of your humble columnist that the greatest failure of governance in India is that the average Indian lives in conditions so unsanitary they would be declared unfit for humans anywhere else in the world. As someone who has had the good fortune to travel far and wide may I say that nowhere have I seen towns and cities as disgracefully unplanned and as filthy as ours. In the villages the majority of our citizens live with open drains, rotting garbage, unclean water and without sanitation. In the cities things may be marginally better, but the reality also is that half the population of Mumbai lives in slums that are unspeakably squalid. And, things are not much better in other metropolitan cities."


The humble columnist then goes on to suggest a host of solutions. Don't bother to read them now though, since it emerges that Singh herself is part of the problem rather than the solution. This humble columnist who has prescriptive dawas for all of India's problems, has been caught red handed with her dog who was pooping on Marine Drive. What's more, when the BMC demanded a fine of Rs.500/- she refused.In fact when the 'Mumbai Mirror' asked her the reason, she admitted herself that she has been caught two three times earlier and that she had refused to pay the fine earlier too! Her reasoning is that in cities like New York or London, the Municipalities there have put in place systems which ensure that rules are followed like special bags and bins. Since there is no such provision, she reasons that her dog has got the license to continue dirtying Marine drive, since " its dirty anyway". And isn't it Tavleen's responsibility to carry her own scooper and bag along?She adds " if my dog does not do it, there are other stray dogs who are doing things all over Marine Drive. There are human being defecating all along the coastline". In other words, since this issue exists, Tavleen feels that she can legitimately add to the problem.

Municipal commissioner R.A.Rajiv who was also interviewed put it well when he said

"... just because there are stray dogs doesn't mean that pets should be allowed to do the same".

I have a solution. Expel Tavleen out of India. If she lives in New york, her Dog can poop wherever it wants. Tavleen will be happy to scoop it, since its in New york or London that she is scooping poop and that carries its own prestige, after all. Aur fine dena padega to New york mein diya na...sadi huyi Mumbai mein to nahi diya?

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Philanthropy in America - surprising facts

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The Economic Times (dtd.Jan 5th'07) has printed a Bloomberg report, which gives some surprising facts:

- Last year, Americans gave away a quarter of a trillion dollars in charity (that is Eleven lakh, twenty five thousand CRORES, in Rupee terms).

- Three out of four Americans make charitable donations every year,$1800 , on an average. This is five times more than Germans and seven times that of an average Italian family.

- Self-confessed Conservatives are a percentage point or two MORE likely to donate to charity than self-confessed liberals.

- In 2000, conservatives gave 30% more money to charity than liberals and most importantly the discrepancy wasn't a function of income. Liberal families earn 6% more than conservatives, on an average.

- The author of the study who wrote the book - ' Who really cares:The surprising truth about compassionate conservatism'- Arthur C. Brooks, an economist with Syracuse University, is a Democrat turned Republican turned Independent.

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Indian Parliament - so funny, no?

Friday, January 05, 2007 Digg! Add to Technorati Favorites
The web site of the Indian Parliament tries to infuse some wit & humour into what is otherwise, a dull, unimaginative space. Is it a surprise that the sarkari babus have done this in their own inimitable style? Sample this piece, in a dutifully dour section called (what else?) 'Wit & Humour'-

'NO STRUCTURE, HENCE NO INFRA-STRUCTURE'

Participating in the short duration discussion on the need to improve the infrastructure at airports in the country, on 20.12.2005 Shri Varkala Radhakrishnan while referring to the poor condition of the Thiruvananthapuram airport, said: I would not use the word ‘infrastructure’ as there is no structure. If there is structure, then only the issue of infrastructure will come. In that airport, there is no structure. It is more or less like a boat jetty or something like it”. There was all round laughter in the House.

Stomach splittingly funny, I sayyy Saarr....hee hee

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Salman Khan wants Nithari serial kilers hanged !

Thursday, January 04, 2007 Digg! Add to Technorati Favorites
Salman Khan has taken another dash at baring open his squeaky clean heart. He has issued a byte on T.V, which asks the Government to hang (a thousand times, no less) the serial murderers in Nithari, Noida, who are accused of sexually abusing and then killing 15-30 children.

One if filled with admiration for Salman. His concern for the maintenance of law and order is laudatory. But hang on, let me jog my memory a little...isn't this the same guy who, in 2002, mowed down a person who was sleeping on the footpath, in Mumbai, and injured three others. Then, wasn't he caught hunting the endangered Chinkara deer, in Rajasthan? Cases slapped against him are still ongoing, at our judicial systems patented snail's pace. His turbulent,abusive relationship with Aishwarya Rai, at one point in time even forced Rai's parents to lodge a complaint against him.

Taking prompt note of Salman's concern for law & order, why not speed up the cases against him and hang him using the same rope used for the Nithari killers, not only for killing deer and a man, but more so for being cruelly hypocritical and blas'e.


Once is enough though, a thousand times would be overdoing a good deed.

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This Cross-dresser T.V host is beautiful,famous and bi-Sexual ! Guess his country?

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A cross-dresser who is glamorous and a celebrity prime time television talk show host, who uses racy sexual inneundo liberally with his guests and is openly bi-sexual in real life? The show is extremely popular and so far, (its been on air for one and a half year already) there have been no audible objections to the host or its format. In which country do you think this can happen? The U.S, Netherlands, Germany or Brazil? Sahi Jawab- Pakistan! Hil gaye na aap?

The host is Ali Saleem, who becomes a beatiful widow,Begum Nawazish Ali on television and interviews, Pakistan's glitterati and top politicians, but alas, not yet, Musharraf! Pity, I for one would have liked to see how the General would have reacted, if Begum Nawazish Ali had lobbed a flirtateous glance of a grenade across.

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Enron did not cheat ?

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Gladwell argues that Enron did NOT defraud shareholders and explains why here.

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Customer complaints on Complaints.com

Wednesday, January 03, 2007 Digg! Add to Technorati Favorites
Robert Scoble, legendary tech blogger, writes about how customers are writing about poor customer service on blogs or anywhere on the web, only to stick it into Google, to be recorded almost for posterity. He says-

"One thing I’ve learned is to always do a Google search on a business I’m thinking of working with. I add the words “problem” “complaint” or “rip off” or other negative words to their company name. If any blogger out there has complained, I’ll see that and be warned away."

Don't try this on an Indian company, Robert. Or you won't be able to buy anything : )

Even the most blue chip of Indian companies specialize in driving their customers to tear their hair out of frustration or worse, even blatantly attempt to defraud them. How many customers knock the doors of Consumer Forums and other redressal bodies, despite the claims that these forums are customer friendly? Most people, rightly or wrongly, choose to drop the issue and just change their product/service provider, if they can help it. Just goes on to show that whatever the claims about the effectiveness of these forums and other regulatory mechanisms, the system is still leaking and loaded heavily against the consumer.

The new way to hit out is to blog/write on the web about your bitter experiences. There are plenty of avenues where you can do this. Sites like Mouthshut.com invite users to post their reviews about commercial entities and are widely referred to by customers. Then, you can always blog about your experiences (or request a well known blogger to publicize your travails) and Google will help you dish it out to people who need to read it. Another effective way is to register a complaint on Complaints.com. This site acts like a public repository of customer complaints and it is upto the companies to check for their manufactured product/service and provide redressal. I checked on how many complaints were registered on for a few of the blue chip companies from India and the results were revealing:

ICICI bank : 82 search results on Complaints.com

HDFC:21

SBI:27

Maruti:16

All of TATA products/services : 152

Bharti: 10

All of Reliance products/services : 45

BSNL:51

MTNL: 52

Bajaj:10

Hero Honda :10

Air India :55

Air Deccan:17

These stats are of course not a TRUE measure of the problem, but surely they are indicative of the extent?

Air India, Reliance, TATA - wakey,wakey!!! ICICI? There is no hope for them.

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Mallika Sherawat ko gussa kyon aata hai?

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Mallika Sherawat danced in Mumbai's J.W.Marriot for 10 minutes, realized it was being aired on T.V, and walked off the stage threatening to sue the Marriot for breach of contract. She was supposed to receive 75 lakhs for 'displaying' her 'talent' for 45 minutes.

And no, that's not her skin, in case the picture has transfixed you ...she is wearing a skin coloured garment underneath.

Talk about poor value for money!

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Negroponte's Media Labs trumps India's SIMPUTER?

Tuesday, January 02, 2007 Digg! Add to Technorati Favorites
I am thinking of getting a new laptop and forsaking the Thinkpad I am using, right now. Nicholas Negroponte who has launched the MIT Media Labs, has come up with a $100 laptop, which seems to be a very interesting machine. Its no Acer Ferrari of course, but then do most people need one, anyway? I think the 366 MHZ AMD processsor and the 512 MB flash memory, instead of a hard drive and 2 USB ports for additional memory, would do just fine, for some basic usage required for kids and the common man, wishing to surf the net. Whats more it has a brand new user interface that seems to be quite novel.

The MIT-ML was founded in 1985 by Negroponte and Jerome Wiesner, former president of the MIT and science adviser to President John F. Kennedy. "Inventing the future," is the vision of Negroponte and the objective of the MIT-ML's multi-disciplinary research, which is driven by emerging communication and information technologies.

Negroponte had tried to set up a Media Lab in India. But the project was wound up after the then Minister for Communications and Information Technology, Arun Shourie, disbanded the Indian Govt's participation. The trigger for the eventual calling off of the project seems to have been the demand made by the MIT for an additional payment of $5 million or $1 million a year over 10 years for the use of the brand name, Media Lab.Shourie had then said-"The contributions by MIT were not in evidence and MIT had not been put to any specific deliverables at the end of the year".

Pity, looks like Negroponte has managed to deliver after all.

The other low cost PC that was supposed to change the way low cost consumers would use technology was the SIMPUTER. But its hardware specs of

- CPU 32-bit Strong Arm SA-1100 RISC CPU running at 200MHz
- 24 MB Flash for Permanent Storage (DOC)
- 64 MB DRAM

seem no match vis a vis the Media Labs model. The SIMPUTER also costs Rs.9000/-, when farmers in Vidarbha are commiting suicide for not being able to repay loans as tiny as Rs.2000/-! The SIMPUTER does have a lot of features that the Media Labs model doesn't provide like an MP3 player and a variety of tools and applications that aim to make it a infotainment device. But its just too costly, for their target customers. Looks like the desire to provide more features has robbed the SIMPUTER of its basic aim to provide affordable low cost information technology solution for the masses.


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