Sunday, November 30, 2008

Time For Some Serious Changes....!!

The Mumbai ordeal is over for now. And peace has returned, momentarily of course. Its a rude shock to all of us, and the pain is being felt even more, because the rich and the powerful of India have been hit, unlike the common man who was hit in such past incidents. This was a whole different group of people who had to bear the brunt of terrorism in its worst form. A elite group, that can afford to eat at Five Star luxury, dont use local trains and send only their servants to buy vegetables at the market. And when this segment of elite Indians are angry, a lot of change and reforms can be expected in the system.
Well, not that my opinion will have much of a bearing on the wise policy makers of the country, i would like to request them to pull up their socks and start working seriously. Here are a few of my recommendations from a common man's perspective.

  • DON'T POLITICIZE terrorist activities : When so many people die helplessly, seeing politicians argue about who is responsible, is very hurtful and childish. Either one is in power, the same would have happened. Instead, they should sit together and analyze what went wrong and take corrective measures  as soon as possible.

  • Redefine the term terrorism : When a mob beats up poor taxi drivers and daily wage laborers, or when places of worship are destroyed and nuns beaten up, that is terrorism too. When things begin to happen according to the whims and fancies of one person, that is terrorism too. When one man or organization emerges above the law, then that is defintely terrorism. So when people express shock that how can 10-12 people siege a big city like Mumbai, then they need to do a reality check and see that it has happened very recently too. So terrorism has to be redefined as : "Any act, that causes fear of bodily harm, in the minds of the common man."

  • Make STRICT laws and even STRICTER implementation :  Stricter laws are necessary to curb terrorism, but what is even more important is how they are implemented. If the laws are not implemented to its full potential, then they might as well have not been created at all. This could work through the other extreme too. Measures have to be taken to monitor that the the laws are not used to oppress any innocents ( for political, ideological or personal matters ). This monitoring could be done through an unbiased human rights body, working in tandem with the investigation.

  • Politicians must steer clear of all investigations: This is even more important. Unless the security agencies work with full freedom, they wont produce any results. In fact, a politicians often influence investigations for "certain reasons". Maybe the accused is of a particular community or background, or a religious leader or any such frivolous reason, don't try to protect them or amass public support for them, till the law pronounces its verdict. Lets focus on the enormity of the crime committed, and not on the social status of the criminals. Not just in terrorism related cases, but in all other cases as well.

  • Create well equipped state agencies and police: In the Mumbai incident, it was the NSG that spear headed the entire operations. Before they arrived, the state police was clueless about what they were dealing with. So hence, even our state police must be trained to the level of our best commandos, so that they can answer to such calls ASAP. And have the NSG available quickly, for such national problems, rather than thrusting them more just for VIP protection. Also better disaster management teams and emergency services must always be on the ready. All should be capable enough to coordinate amongst themselves, without requiring any "higher level" of clearance.

  • Provide high tech equipments: No expenses must be spared to equip our soldiers and police with the latest in weapons, armor and surveillance. I think we have seen enough of those pre-independence rifles left by the British, which are mere toys compared to what terrorists hold. These outdated weapons must be quickly replaced by something which is a lot more reasonable. Also better equipments must be used at public places to monitor the crowds, through bomb detectors, CCTV and any other relevant accessories. Also the checks must be carried out always, and not just for a few days after any incident. People would rather spend a few extra minutes for security, rather than having to spend time in the grip of terror. Yes, its difficult to monitor such a large population, but there is not other option.

  • Take good care of army, police and intelligence personnel: They risk their lives in the line of duty. So its the duty of the government to ensure that they are paid well and live a good quality life.

  • Initiate better intelligence gathering mechanisms:  Intelligence is important for security. Apart from gathering intelligence, its vital that that its acted upon swiftly. Like if there is a likelihood of an attack through the sea, then there must be action taken to patrol them. No use crying about it when something bad happens, in spite of an intelligence warning. Such a thing is extremely irresponsible...! So never ignore a warning or an alert, no matter how vague or indefinite it might look. It never hurts to be a bit extra cautious.

  • Unite the people in the war against terror: Ultimately its all about the people. Big terror attacks seldom happen without any local help. Whatever the reason for the internal aid may be, must be identified and stopped. Homegrown terrorists is something which will be most difficult to handle. Most of the time its social conditions, monetary benefits or misleading propaganda that drive them to do this. That is, they dont think of themselves to fit into Indian society,or are not comfortable with their Indian identity. So first of all, disparities and discrimination's must be eliminated, and steps should be taken towards a division less India. Leaders will have to look beyond caste, religion and language politics, to spread this spirit of being ONE. The people of India must share a feeling of being Indian, over any other discrimination. Encouraging a nationalist spirit in each one of us, will ensure that we work towards upliftment and glory of the motherland. As citizens lets pledge to spread love and not hate. Let us find more reasons to love each other, rather than to kill each other.

Well, these are just some of my views, and nothing seems to be unrealistic or impossible to implement. All this is feasible, if only the right efforts are put into it, as soon as possible. Or else such incidents will keep jolting us rudely. Getting angry and spirited for a day or two wont help. We need long term solutions. The feeling of "Thank God it wasn't me" has to be changed, and any such incident has to be thought of an attack on each and every one of us. Lets not allow the deaths of so many innocent people to go in vain. Lets change the way things are around here...

Jai Hind

Thursday, November 27, 2008

Battleground Mumbai

There is never a period of extended peace in the country. Just when things seem alright and peaceful, someone comes up and stirs up the hornet's nest. The gruesome acts of terrorism in the financial capital of the country, just shows the guts of these inhumane perpetrators. What did all these people they have killed ever do to them? Now don't bring in the stories of avenging those who died in Iraq, Afghanistan, Bosnia or Kashmir - the videos of which were shown to motivate them. Because these people were just normal people going about their normal lives, and had nothing to do with armed conflict till the day they were killed in cold blood. That too for absolutely no reason at all.
It has been almost twenty four hours, since it all started in Mumbai. Such coordinated attacks show a well researched and planned operation, and was different from the way things used to be carried out by them. Such deviation from their conventional method shows that they were aided by a well informed intelligence setup and expertise. The entry into Mumbai through boats, attacks over a large number of areas, and finally holding up in some of the most famous landmark hotels in Mumbai, seemed part of a well planned and rehearsed plot. Finally the showdown boiled down to three places in the city. Catching the security forces off guard, the terrorists managed to inflict quick and heavy damage. The body count kept rising, as the police and the army began to take control of the situation.
The thing to be noted is the fact that all (or at least those shown on television) the terrorists involved seemed quite young. I don't know what drives then to commit to such horrific acts. Must be some religiously fanatic "preacher" who convinces them to do this and reach God or something. I don't know if that is actually written somewhere or just a clever little manipulation by the wicked minds. For one thing, in no way is killing of innocent people, including women and children going to make any God happy ( if there is any such entity ). No religion warrants such extreme senseless hate on others. I used to think economic conditions force them to do this, but that theory has been quite clearly proved wrong many times in the past. Ultimately, its just a lot of waste that terrorism that leaves behind.
As for things in Mumbai, i don't want to go into the details about what happened where. As i am unsure of the exact facts, just like the media, which is frantically trying to piece together the puzzle with all the bits and pieces of information that they can get their claws on. I always thought of the media to be like hungry vultures, lurking around to get their beaks in on the action. Well, that is their job, to keep us all "well informed" through an over - dramatized depiction of the sequence of events. And some of the questions that they asked to the police, army and rescued hostages were absolutely stupid. Like the question to a freed hostage: "Were you scared?". Duh.. what else do you expect...?
Amidst of all this chaos the one thing that brought hope and courage to millions of Indians, was the presence of soldiers and the police. The Mumbai police in spite of losing some brave top officials continued to assert their presence at the vicinity of all the three "war" zones. The army was soon at the place, along with the NSG and marine commandos, to take on the terrorists with as little collateral damage as possible. I always had great admiration of our armed forces, who are so inspirational at such times of crisis. Almost inspire a sort of patriotic fervor, in times such as these.
As more and more hostages began to be taken out, the news of those who died too kept on rising. Hoping for the best by tomorrow i wish that the losses to life are kept to the minimum. As for India's image is concerned, it has been tarnished a bit. Allowing foreigners to be killed in such manner shows our weakness and incapability to provide internal security. Now those planning to come to India, will think twice after this incident. Already the foreign cricketing teams have decided that India is not "safe". I suppose this is what the terrorists planned to achieve. But for what...? I fail to understand the purpose of violence, that lacks justification. I do hope that soon after peace is restored, all the political parties behave like responsible citizens for a change, and work out a solution from scratch. We have the resources, but its just that they get caught up in too much of politics, to actually bring about anything productive. I hope that this time it will be different, at least for the sake of those have who lost their lives meaninglessly...

Jai Hind

Down and Washed Out

Well, I am not talking about the India - England ODI series, but rather the situation of Tamil Nadu, currently under the siege of heavy rains. Many parts of the state have been severely battered by cyclonic winds and torrential rains. The losses have been huge - both material as well as of life. Well, we cant control nature, but what we can control is how we handle the situation. We cant stop the rain, which is actually a good thing, but at least the losses and inconvenience can be minimized.

Fine, let me not get carried away too far. Helping out the rural villages seems very far away, when we cant even manage the water in the capital of the state - Chennai...!! Every year its the same old story. Promises are made to improve the storm water management infrastructure, but barely a line is drawn after the rains stop. Badly planned suburbs as well as major streets submerged in a lot of water, with floating debris, doesn't make for a very pretty sight. And having more than a foot of water flowing around in even some of the busiest and commercial places in the city, shows the pathetic state of affairs that are prevalent here. The worst part is, most of the time you cant be sure if it is the rain water or sewage water that you are stepping into. Furthermore the traffic woes in the city are a cause of anguish for many motorist, and during the rains, the flooded streets make matters absolutely frustrating...! Oh and don't forget the pot holes, that are lying in wait, submerged under the water for unsuspecting motorists and pedestrians...! 
These are just some of the hardships that everyone in Chennai has to put up with, during these times. Things are bad, just as it was last year, and the year before that. Can things improve..?? First of all, there cant be any improvement of the system, because quite plainly, there is no existing storm water management system in place at all...! That is because while planning the city, there was felt no need to have such a thing in place. I suppose its due to the fact that Chennai has witnessed several droughts in the past. So they must have thought... "Rains...? In Chennai...? No way...!! ". Fine, so the older parts of Chennai cant be blamed for lack of preparedness, but what about the new ones that came up after rapid urbanization of the city?

You cant expect any better of them, because lands are allotted for residential purposes, without any basic infrastructure. Not even sanitation facilities are provided in newly allocated areas, let alone storm water systems. As these areas begin to flourish, it becomes more and more difficult to develop infrastructure within them. So they just have learn to live with all the "inconveniences", such as the flooded streets.

Further more occupation ( illegal or "legal" encroachment ) and destruction of the inland water bodies does not allow the water to go anywhere. The natural water bodies can to some extent help to control at least a part of the rain water. Like the cooum river which if properly utilized could carry away the excess rain water ( currently transporting several liters of untreated sewage ) into the ocean. If not, all this rain water on the street could be channelized and stored in a reservoir.

To put something like this in order needs a huge revamp of  the city's planning. Putting in sufficiently capable storm drains in every part of Chennai is indeed a massively huge project...! Proper planning has to be done, busy streets have to be dug up, and work has to go on unhindered. Ultimately, to provide relief to the people of Chennai for one - two months, they have to be put through hardships for several months. Seems fair in the long run at least, for the people and the image of Chennai...!

So if this is the condition of the state's capital, then I don't see any ray of hope for the rural masses. They will continue to lose property and life to nature's ravages, most of which can be avoided by awareness and preparedness. Just monetary compensation for the losses, is definitely NOT the solution to this problem...!

Thursday, November 20, 2008

Terror On The High Seas

The only sort of pirates that i was familiar with, were the types that sell/download pirated software and movies ( No wait... the other pirate i know is Captain Jack Sparrow... Ahem ). But then, all of a sudden, the Somalian sea pirates ( some prefer to call them terrorists ) are all over the news and in the Gulf of Aden...!
And they have a quite a crafty racket set up. Their modus operandi involves using fast motor boats to get near merchant ships, clambering onto them, holding a gun to the crew's head and demanding ransom from the owner of the ship. And this plot of their works, as some of the demands for money were met by the shipping corporates. In fact it worked so well that it has begun to happen a lot more frequently than one could ever imagine. Eleven raids in ten days, and a about seventy five ( and constantly rising ) in this year alone, seems like a desperately frantic attempts by the Somalian pirates to make a quick buck.

Equipped with a few large Russian-built "mother boats" trawlers, a fleet of smaller fast speed boats, and armed with automatic weapons and RPGs, these pirates are as deadly as they come. They also have radar and other communication equipments. Most merchant ship's crew, have no option to put up any kind of resistance. Currently there are several ship crews held as hostage, and some lives have also been lost in the past. It must be terrible for the crew who are stuck in such a predicament.. Such is the notoriety of these pirates, who are quite deadly and well organized. Of course, the ransom money is used to buy more arms, and to fund the struggles and conflicts within Somalia.
So bring in the big navy big boys, on their big boat, with their big guns. Many warships, including an Indian stealth frigate - INS Tabar, are in the Arabian sea to check the rampage of these pirates. I don't know much know about the success rate of the other nation's navies, but the Indian ship has been able to repel a few raids and even managed to sink a "mother ship" vessel. Many in the Indian media claimed that sinking this pirate vessel is the biggest success of the Indian navy since the 1971 Indo-Pakistan war. I say that such comments are really silly and embarrassing, and even the navy shrugs it off as being a very minor accomplishment. After all it was a pathetic old pirate ship that was sunk, and not some big armed warship of sorts. Nevertheless, it was a big breakthrough. But that didn't deter the pirates too much, who managed capture a merchant ship on the same day. Its not the strength of the pirate ships, but rather the sheer number of them in the open seas and their operative success, which is scary.

Anyway, this is now a serious international issue, that can go out of proportions, if left unchecked. Soon, other desperate organizations, in a bid to raise funds for their cause will begin to resort to such "lucrative" measures. Hence this menace has to be nipped at the bud as soon as possible. This can be achieved only through co-operative measures among the various navies to combat the pirates. As for the family members of those currently held hostage, need to keep their spirits up and pray for a quick resolution of the crisis.

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Shown The Way Out



The global financial crisis has affected almost everyone. Either its the looming danger of losing your job, or the fear of complete closure of the industry itself. In this current scenarios, as small and large companies are desperately trying to be in the green, cutting down on the excess workforce seems to be the first viable solution for them, as generating any profits seems definitely seems out of the question. So spending so much on operational costs seems most "wasteful", given the fact that they are getting back very little in return.

Cutting cost by other means, certainly was of some help, but wasn't enough. Like the lavish perks showered on the managerial level have been choked this year. So no expensive gadgets, leather handbags or luxurious Caribbean cruise for them this year. Others got their salaries cut down significantly, or were denied the raise that was promised to them. Companies planning to come up with new launches have put their plans on hold. But things didn't seem to get better in spite of all this, and some were even forced to shut down.

Many IT companies have or are planning to cut down the so called "non performing" work force. And hence the dreaded pink slip with the dismissal notice, makes many cry these days. Or the fear of getting one soon, gives nightmares to many. Even the small scale workers are feeling the pinch. Working on a daily wage basis and with not much of financial backup, things seem very bleak for them. Searching for alternatives is quite difficult. Though i believe these workers will probably be more successful at getting work in alternative fields, than the IT chaps.

So, how do people react to this. Well they certainly wont be jumping with joy. There is a lot of anger and resentment among the workers, towards their employers. But it hardly seems the appropriate course of action. The employers either have the option of hitting the floor with bankruptcy or facing the wrath of the employees. Trying to toe the line carefully between a communist and capitalist ideology, the later seems to be the most appropriate, as it gives the opportunity for the employer to maintain financial credibility, and maybe even take back the employees in the near future. But that's just what i feel as the most appropriate thing to do. Whether it will happen or not, I am not sure.

Whether they are air hostesses, banker or a daily wage worker, times are tough. But we all have to go through it nevertheless. I just hope that things go back to normal very soon, and people can safely afford to sleep at work, without the fear of getting dismissed. Till then, people will be at the edge of their seats, hoping that its not them next. That's the situation all over the world. How good or bad things will go from here on, is a big mystery that no one is sure about.

Friday, November 14, 2008

The Devils are Advocates..!

Any one I am sure would agree to the fact that our law system and judiciary are one of the worst functioning bodies in the country. We never have much respect for the law -  and we make it a point to safely break as many as possible. As for those who are well read with the subject of law - the lawyers - don't have too much of respect for it either. As it turns out they learn law only to find ways to break it. No wonder most turn out to become politicians ( read as criminals ). Lawyers are quite plainly associated to be liars and criminals. And judges are assumed to be corrupt and inefficient. This doesn't mean everyone is like this. Just that the general  perception is such. And unfortunately its true most of the time.

So why this sudden interest regarding the lawlessness in the country? That's because, I like many others, just had the opportunity to see ( on TV  of course ) some hideous acts of violence amongst aspiring lawyers, at the Dr. Ambedkar law college in Chennai. In case you missed it,  check out the Link. The visuals were quite barbaric and it was difficult to imagine those hooligans to be lawyers or even students..! If that's how they usually behave, one might as well imagine how well they respect the law. Ok forget the law, at least for humanities sake they should have taken some pity on those getting  pounded mercilessly.

It was terrible to see guys getting beaten so bad, and continuing to get beaten even after losing consciousness. And these were lawyers -  supposed to be educated and all. Oh heck, who am i kidding. Fine, they were future politicians. Now that sounds a lot better, right..? Yes dirty politics it is..!  As a matter of fact, there is a high amount of polarization amongst the law college students. They are divided intentionally on caste and political basis. All done so by politicians, in order to groom the next generation of political cadres. All this violence and hate has been sowed by the political set up, which warrants them to hate each other in order to maintain the sanctity of communal politics.

Now coming to another part, which is highlighted more than the other, is the inaction of the police. Unfortunately it seems the police being mute spectators was the largest crime at the scene, on that day. By doing this they are actually trying to evade the fundamental problem and the reasons behind such violence. To put it in perspective, imagine if the police entered the premises, lathi charged a few rioters and brought calm to the place, then the next day's headlines would have been "Brutal police attack innocent law students". And all the political parties would have staged a protest outside the Commissioner's office against police brutality. Yes that's India for you. Police is actually being made a scapegoat, in order to evade the major issues ,like always. The main issue is the political influence in these colleges, and dirty communal politics. But no politician seems to make a comment on purifying educational institutions off such political hatred. As for the police - who made them this way? Isn't it the way things are around here? Aren't the police always mute spectators to crimes?

Anyway...to conclude, law makers breed lawyers who break the law in front of law enforcers. In order to change things around here, all this frivolous wastage of talent needs to be curbed by channelizing the hate into something more productive. And that requires a lot change in these people's attitude. So a request to all political leaders - dont nurture hatred to serve your own needs. Instead unite the people and create a caste-less, division less India.
Jai Hind

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

The Tainted Uniform...

The Indian Armed forces are one of the most respected organizations in the country. Especially the Army, which gets the most honor amongst them all. The code of discipline and courage is legendary. Their passion devoid of all fervor, other than for service towards the motherland. Once a soldier, is always regarded as a soldier. People respectfully give titles to men who have served in the army. Such is the respect given to the soldiers of the country.

Yet recent revelations on the Malegaon incident, have greatly tarnished the army's secular image. Never would i have imagined that men in the army would be involved in such forms of treason. That too amongst high ranked officers. Soldiers who had fought off terrorism, had become one of them. Yes, these of course are the actions of a few, and should in now way brand all the soldiers similarly. Yet the reputation of the army has taken quite a beating.
Why this scares most, is because of the sort of training they undergo, and the amount of expertise they posses. This means that they are highly skilled in whatever they do. One can't imagine the worst, if such a thing were to happen again.
The armed force have mostly stayed clear of internal politics and strictly remain in control of the leaders of the nation. Such a discipline is almost remarkable in an army that ranks 3rd in the world, with respect to size. That too in spite of so many diversities amongst those who serve in them. They are a true picture of how we all can get along well and accomplish so much as a unit.

But, there have been minor problems. The armed forces in India have always been amidst some sort of controversies from time to time. Such as weapon procurement, bribes, harassment, fratricide, espionage, inefficiency, unpreparedness, aging hardware etc etc. But those were issues concerned within the army. They by in large did not affect the common man in any significant way. But being involved in such terrorist activities has been the first of its kind. Who else can we look for protection if not the men in uniform. They are there to help at times of chaos -  man-made or natural. Their selfless service and courage gives reassurance to the entire country that things will be fine and under control.

Whatever it may be, i still have high regard for the armed forces. They are a remarkable group of ladies and gentlemen, and hope that collaborating with such misguided forces wont ever happen again.
Jai Hind

Sunday, November 09, 2008

Oh - Bama...!

First of all I am happy that George Bush is not the President of the United States any more*. And second, i am happy that George Bush is not the president of the United States anymore**. And finally, i am happy for Barack Obama as the 44th President of the United States.

And i guess he is black too. Not that it should make a difference, or be even considered as a statistic or a record. But i suppose it is a big deal, and gives a lot of hope to many in America. As well as a reason to celebrate for those who share their roots with him, back in Kenya.
 
He does have quite a lot of hot stuff to handle right now. The economic crisis is just one of them, and what a big mess it is. The wars in Afghanistan and Iraq will soon have to be handled and sorted out, as cleanly as possible. And i bet there are several other diplomatic and political problems to face as well. He has promised a lot to the Americans, frustrated by wars, terrorism and economic problems . And everyone hopes that he delivers...! The rest of the world will definitely be keenly watching his every move..!

Well anyway, all his half brothers, cousins, uncles as well as rest of Kenya will be rejoicing with this victory. Why wont they be? Its probably the biggest opportunity that a man of Kenyan origin could get..!
 
India is already going over board to ensure that we remain good "pals" with the US and Mr.Obama. I bet, no cost will be spared, and no stone left unturned.. etc etc. And the Obama-mania in India was almost really surprising. This is not the political support that i am talking about, but the common people...! Not only was there immense support, but there were poojas  being offered for his win..! Like the prayers in a Hanuman temple and lucky charms being sent over to him. One temple somewhere even claimed to have predicted the assassination attempt on Obama. I sure wish the Gods use a bit of their powers over here too...!

As they say, being the "Leader of the free world" is not child's play. There are serious issues to be handled. Mr. Bush of course handed his national duties really well, in between his long vacations. After all, its not so easy to round up cattle and work out America's anti-terrorist strategy at the time...! I suppose Mr. Obama is not so good at multitasking. As he had claimed "change has come to America". Everyone hopes the same too.


*Not that i don't like Bush personally or anything, its just that i have seen too many documentaries that show him to be incompetent and a liar.
**Put the above statement in 2 'for' loops.

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Happy Diwali..!

Wishing All a Happy and Prosperous Diwali ( Deepavali )...!!


Friday, October 24, 2008

Let There Be Light...!!

Diwali is here.. and like every time its a joyous moment of celebration and festivities. Not just in India but also in lots of other countries, where Indians are in abundance...! So as usual it involves a lot of celebrations, shopping, traditional stuffs... and the dreaded crackers. I am not a big fan of crackers, as anyone who knows me for more than 2 years would be able to guess why. The reasons are many, but the solution is in fact very simple. Don't burst crackers...!  One of the reasons is the pollution it causes. The other reason being the alleged use of child labour to manufacture them. And of course the fact that they are highly irresponsible objects to have fun with.

For the first reason, well, i suppose everyone knows the smoke and and noise that they produce. They hardly think of the long term consequences of them. We are actually contributing to Nitrogen Dioxide, Sulphur Dioxide as well as other harmful gases, raising the levels considerably on the days of Diwali. They are in fact harming themselves as well as all others exposed to them. If not now, in a few years, the effects of these drastic inclusions to the environment will add up, to produce a larger impact on environment and health. As it is, we have so many harmful smoke emitting sources, do we need to contribute even more...??

And the noise produced is just plainly pointless...! Whats the fun in a big "BOOM"...? The sound for one scares every little bird, cat or dog in the vicinity and is an extremely cruel torture to them...! Why just the animals, even people are uncomfortable due to these sudden explosion and are good enough to give a heart attack to anyone who is not up to the mark..! Of course then there are direct immediate accidents that do happen every year..! People, especially children getting burnt, losing their eyes or even worse. Unfortunately, sometimes even those not involved in bursting them, get hurt too...!

And what about the trash that they leave behind..? Ever thought of cleaning them up..? Or just leave it to be swept into drains and gutters, or just let them to lie around and rot. Its not just enough to clean our up house. The streets need to be kept clean too... at least lets not make it even more dirtier..!! Looking at the streets the day after Diwali, reminds me what sort of an irresponsible and dirty creatures we all are...!

Coming to another issue, employing little children to manufacture the crackers, is both a crime and a sin. It does happen, no matter how much its being denied. Children are lot a cheaper, demand less and are very easily exploited. The children, half fed, exposed to chemicals have to work overtime to make ready the stocks for Diwali. They are robbed off their childhood, exposed to deadly risks, and their dreams squashed, just so that someone can experience the thrill of a few sparks and a loud pop. To us it may just be 500-1000 bucks and a cart load of fun, but to those poor kids, it was days of labour under a lot of suffering. Is it really worth it..?

I know, some of you might think, this provides them a source of livelihood, and by buying crackers you are actually helping them. ( Very lame argument actually ). But think, why do you have to go through so much trouble to help them? Why not directly spend the amount, that you wish to buy crackers for, on the poor and the needy..? Wont that give you real satisfaction of actually doing something meaningful and worthwhile..??

Crackers and bombs are not really part of tradition. Its supposed to be a festival of lights, prosperity and happiness. In fact Diwali means 'a row of lamps' in Sanskrit. I believe no where it was meant to be a "festival of random chaotic noise and explosion". So down the years this has become more and more commercial. Experts call this YAHCT syndrome or Yet Another Heavily Commercialized Tradition ( and not YATCH ). So its just a lucrative business time, like many other festival times. As long as its clothes or washing machine sales, i dont mind. But when it comes to selling things that are way too harmful to everyone, then its just plain selfish and irresponsible greed..!

There are laws of course, which supposedly enforce the norms for these things. But then these are just laws, meant to be broken and bent in India.

Here are a few more points that are of note...! Do take a look. Some laws, tests, harmful effects etc. I would have posted them here, but as it is this article has become way too big for anyone to read it...

                            http://www.indiatogether.org/environment/articles/diwali.htm

So celebrate Diwali in a more responsible, happier and cleaner way. Spread love and not pollution.

Wishing you a Prosperous, Clean and Pollution less Diwali.

Let There Be Light....!!!

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Mission to the Moon...!!

Well, it may have been quite a while since someone showed interest to visit our nearest celestial neighbor -  the Moon. So on 22 October, 6:20 AM IST mission Chandrayaan-I will be launching off to explore the moon's surface, untouched by an Indian Spacecraft ever. In fact its the first time an Indian spacecraft is going so far away form the Earth. Sending back a lot of knowledge about the the celestial body and hoping to break new grounds in planetary explorations. Also the knowledge acquired will be shared with the entire world.

The mission objectives as quoted by ISRO are to map the surface of the Moon and to conduct mineral analysis. As well as to deliver numerous ground support stations and facilities on the moon's surface. These are supposed to aid in future moon missions by making available a usable basic infrastructure. Many equipments going to be set up on the surface have been contributed by many space agencies across the globe. This is indeed a global initiative and all of them are eagerly awaiting for the success of this mission.

India's ISRO is one of the fore runners in space technology, and is doing good business in the space in commercial space programs. And this is just another feather in ISRO's cap...! The next step, i guess would be to send an Indian to moon or even further..!! Eagerly awaiting to see that day..!!

Well, space is the final frontier, and has been the stuff of fantasies for many many years. When it comes to space, aliens, inter-dimensional vortex etc etc, there is no such thing as over imagination..!! Anything and everything is OK as far as space goes..! Whether creepy eyed alien beings bidding to conquer us or space tele-portation and humongous space ships, nothing seems illogical..! That is because we know such little about it..! So lets bend it the way we want it..!Great fun..!!

Ever since man showed some sort of a logical capacity, from the birth of civilization thousands of years ago, he has been pondering about the space and its various objects. Yet till now we hardly know even a tiny percentage of it..!! And it will take probably many more for us to know even know what we are dealing with..! For now just let our imagination, computer games and Hollywood fuel our space conquest missions...!!

We were given one planet to live on - Earth, and we have ravaged and abused it to a great extent. And continually doing so, in spite of knowing the damage that we are causing...! I guess, upon occupying any other planet (if we are able to do so) we would be doing the same to it..! Slowly eliminating the local populace and populating the planet with more humans..! Well we certainly are capable of doing so...!

Anyway, all that is too far ahead...! As for now lets "conquer" the moon in the name of science and claim it on the behalf of entire humanity ( if it has not been already done so). Just hoping that the weather stays clear  during the launch...!!

Oh which reminds me, here is another mission objective..! Find out if the Americans really landed on then moon or was it all just a scam..?
For more information and technical stuff check out this link :
Please do check it out at least once...!



Thursday, October 16, 2008

The Big Red Couch Wars

Really funny things happen when you throw in big corporates, innovative ideas and a lot of competition. Like this whole ad war that started around the big red couch. Well, the story goes as follows.Airtel in a bid to spice up their launch of digital television service, started a series of teasers, without giving  a hint to what it was about. Just a red couch and the line "See you at home" was said by a cowboy, an African Zulu tribesman, a rock band , cartoons resembling Timon from the Lion King.... and many others. But no one had much of a clue as to what it was or which company it belonged to. Though probably someone could connect it to a television based product or home delivered pizzas. Anyway, the build up continued...

So Reliance's digital TV service - BIG TV - decided to crash in on Airtel's party by putting up their own promotional advertisement with the big red couch. To suggest as if the whole build up was for their BIG TV. How they came to know ofAirtel's plans or was it just a coincidence is still unsure. But the teaser was to suggest that it was something new that was being launched. BIG TV was already in the market for quite a while. Then why were they trying to "relaunch" it..?

Thus ambushing Airtel big time. And then they had to hurriedly launch their own advertisement, which had a lot of fan fare and celebrities in it and of course the red couch too.Airtel was soon crying fowl of BIG TV's tactics calling it unfair and unethical, and BIG came out with their own justifications. Anyway, I suppose now the red couch is not there in BIGTV's ads. Just the ads with the kung-fu moustache guy, the screaming fat lady and the sneezing soldier. As for Airtel, it airs the red couch ad, loaded with celebrities and is quite long too. But surely the debate spruced up the popularity of both the giants...!

Well, as for the red couch war, its over for now, but our sky will be fought over for more such digital TV signals and our roof tops crowded with more dishes, in the time to come. And soon more and more people will be confining themselves to big couches, preferring TV over their social life. Preferring Reality shows than reality itself. Preferring watching cartoons rather than playing. Preferring SUN TV ( Regional Tamil channel ) than sun light... etc etc. Ahem... You get the picture. Yes, the couch is definitely something to fight aggressively for, by these big companies. Each providing a whole array of choice to the viewer and a host of value added features. No matter who the winner is, the loser will always be the poor couch potato.

Monday, October 13, 2008

Pits of Doom

It is indeed a very sad thing that apart from hunger, disease and natural disasters, there is another factor that kills children.... The scourge of the Open Bore wells.. ( eerie background music ) !!! Well.. a rather stupid reason for sure, but it does happen. Probably not in any other part of the world, but definitely in India. And is it too difficult to curb this children killing "menace"..?? Doesn't seem so. Definitely not difficult as fighting poverty or polio. Then why does it happen again and again and no one seems to care.
Sonu, a 2 year old boy, was almost buried alive in a 150 ft deep bore well in Agra, is just one of the victims in a long list of similar incidents. The 4 day rescue operation by the Army, only resulted in the recovery of his lifeless body. Well, after such a long time, no wonder he didn't make it through..! Imagining myself in his place is both scary and discomforting. And it wasn't the first time, but will it be the last...??
Well, the media was there covering every moment of it. Maybe some politician or official would have come to get their pictures taken with a "sympathetic" and "grief stricken" expression on their face. The army was doing its "best". But whats the use. Now the state will announce a compensation to the family or name the bore well aftersonu, or other such cheap gimmick. And just in case Sonu was rescued alive, the state would have sponsored his education, given him a bicycle or something like that and everyone would be very happy. After all its such occasions that give the politicians to show their "consideration" for the people.
But why can't people be more careful with the holes they dig. How difficult is it? I have seen even dogs fill in the holes that they dig. Anyway, apart from the those who dig these wells, its even the parents who are responsible, who leave their kids lying about here and there. Maybe they had their reasons, but its only they who will feel the grief for a very long time, while the rest will forget about it the next morning. So ultimately its the people, especially those with kids less than a foot wide (along any direction), who must be vigilant towards such dangers.
Or I suppose we need to set up a new department namely the - Rapid Borewell Rescue Squad - equipped with the latest technology to save young children from numerous menacing pits that dot the country. If we can't close the pits, lets at least get good at rescuing those who fall in them..!

Sunday, October 12, 2008

Why rumors are a bad thing....

By now every ram, arun and vijay ( Indian versions of Tom, Dick and Harry ) where ever he is, would be quite aware of the financial "situation" in the world. So what happens when a big financial institution crashes..?? People fear that other institutions will collapse as well. In a financial setup, set backs are common when something major like this happens. But are all fears justified...? Definitely not.. Sometimes they just make matter worse.

Like the rumor that a major Indian bank - ICICI - was doomed because they had invested in American banks. So what happened was that people began to rush to the banks and ATMs to withdraw their hard earned money..!! But the way a bank functions, its not possible to return everyone's money within a day..!!  NO bank can do that..!! Definitely not possible..! A bank doesn't keep all the money it collects from its customers, in their vaults. They circulate and invest it..! How else are they able to give you an interest on your deposits..? Money lying idle doesn't give "birth" to more money...! It has to be sent in circulation..!

So when all the people rushed to get their money out, the bank was in a tight fix. Apparentlly they had to sell some of their shares and get loans to give back the money to demanding customers. Inspite of several reassurances from the bank, that there was no reason to panic, that they had not invested overseas and that they had enough funds, the frantic crowds didnt listen. Even the RBI's increased release of liquidity and reassurances didnt solve the problem. The bank had to close down their ATMs and send back the customers. Hard hit by the rumors, their market value nose dived and they are no more the leading private bank in the country.

People need to be patient and give it some time, instead of making it worse. If there is a world wide financial problem, everyone will be hit, someway or the other. This way, is just aggravting the problem furthur. Plus, the regulatory bodies are quite well equipped to handle if at all there is any problem. A bank wont be allowed to go down with the people's money...!

Banks are built on trust and when it takes a beating, things go from bad to worse. No matter how big a bank is, a bad reputation or a rumor will bring it to its knees in days. So the moral of the story is, even if a bank is not collapsing, people will make it go bankrupt. And if it was indeed collapsing, people will make sure that that it falls down to the last rupee...!

Tuesday, October 07, 2008

Public Deception System

I don't really understand the ration card or the Public Distribution System (PDS). Quite simply, because we don't need the so called subsidized rations. By "we" i mean people who can afford to buy from air conditioned supermarkets, and have cards to swipe the bill. Yet due to some strange enlightenment in our political system, they deem it necessary for us to have it as a source of identification. Well that part is ok , but the trouble is we even need to get our rations regularly. Or else the card gets canceled, which implies you lose your identity. Even though we ( my father :P ) pay our taxes for the roads, lights, sanitation and not to forget the subsidized rations as well, without the ration card, the local administrative bodies and many other organizations don't accept you as a valid resident of the state. ( Used to need that for buying LPG Gas as well... thankfully that is not needed anymore )

Earlier, we didn't feel the need to have one, because we could afford the food at a regular retail price, and thought to let the poor enjoy the benefits of the subsidized rations. However, someone insisted  ( good that he did, or else it would have been really tough later on ) that a ration card is one of the most essential document that a person residing in Tamil Nadu can have. So the process started, and like in most other government offices, a middle-man was arranged to get the process done quicker. Apparently there was no option to deny the rations completely, and to just have the card as an identity proof. So the least that could be got was sugar..!! That too 4.5 Kg..! That actually was a bit to much for our family of three. We would hardly be able to consume half of it. So after a few months of running around, the card finally came. It was indeed a very "proud" moment...!! Finally, we had a proof of our residence in Chennai (13° 04' N , 80° 17' E), Tamil Nadu. ( Though the spelling of the street was wrong... there was no choice but to go with it...)

OK, so now there was a catch. Even though we felt we didn't need the stupid sugar, and that what we got was too much, we had no option but to go regularly and buy it. Apparently, if nothing is procured for more than 3 months then the card becomes invalid. Then there is another whole lot procedures involved to revive it. So once in a while either mom or me would go and get it when it was least crowded at the shop. But then soon after, like many others, the simplest thing to do was to give the card to someone else who needs the sugar. So we gave the card to someone to buy the sugar, and just keep the card alive. After moving to a new house, again the whole hassle of changing the address and all. But the worst problem was that i couldn't find anyone to take the card for the whole of two months...! And September was the third month, after which the card might become invalid...! And i didn't want to wait to find out if that was true. So well, seeing no other way, i had to go and stand in a queue, which was surprisingly long during the end of the month. Apparently it was because of the 1 Rupee rice. Ahh heck.. So after more than 2 agonizing hours of standing in a queue, i finally got my "essential" supplies. Four and a half kilos of sugar. After triumphantly saving my card from invalidity, i marched back home. ( Bought a1.5LCoke bottle and "Hide and Seek" biscuit from MORE super market on the way home. )

So whats with this stupid system? Its supposed to help the poor, but in reality its a cunning deception by politicians, bureaucrats and officers to fill their own pockets.They very well know that many card holders don't need the supplies, yet they continue to go along with it. The reason is that it is one of the most lucrative way to steal at all levels. From the top most politician or bureaucrat to the man who works at the PDS shop.  First, most don't get their rations every month (like i missed out on two months) and thus more available for the black market. Then they also want to show a huge number of people "benefited" by the PDS system, thus putting up a good public and statistical image. Getting dirt cheap rice and other commodities, means more margin for profits at the black market. A Kilogram of rice, will probably cost 20 Rupees/Kg in the open market. The PDS man will sell a 25 Kg bag for that price in the black market and in return compensate 25 Rupees to the government and show bogus receipts. Well, we all know this all too well. Have seen all this in the Rajini movies of the 80s itself.

Ahh well. Lets just hope there is some more thought put into the system. If anyone tries to correct the system a bit, he/she will be deemed as a villain to the common man. That's the story of Indian politicians. But seriously, only those who really deserve the aid, must receive it. Not all can afford to buy in the open market so definitely they must be helped by the PDS system. But the problem is that the government doesn't know how to select the deserving people. Choosing the whole bunch is a lot easier and profitable for them. Despite the availability of food at such low cost, if people still die of hunger, in a country of vast bounty of natural goodness, then there is something inherently wrong.
 
So the point is that, I only need a card as a proof of my residence, and not a coupon to avail me discounts. These trivial things can and must be amended soon, for the better.



Friday, September 26, 2008

The Good, Bad and Corrupt...



"Calvin
: Do you believe in the devil? You know, a supreme evil being dedicated to the temptation, corruption, and destruction of man?
Hobbes: I'm not sure that man needs the help."


With that, I am here again to talk about my second most favorite topic after global warming - and that is... corruption. Well, it came to my notice that there actually was a way to measure corruption. A relative measure of course. A Global Civil society organization called Transparency International had conducted a study and the results probably didn't surprise many. At least it didn't surprise me. Some may have gone into a denial mode, but in such things there can hardly be any argument.

Talking about India in particular, it ranked at the 85th spot. I initially felt extremely happy, because my initial assumption was that we would be leading the list of the most corrupt, at least in the top ten. And now i saw that we were in the 85th...! I thought i owed all the politicians and bureaucrats an apology for my constant criticism. But soon i found out that i had got it all in reverse. The survey ranks them in ascending order of corruption. Which means the most noblest of nations would be on the top. So now the picture was quite clear. We were somewhere in the middle of the list. Apparently we had even slipped 13 places since last year's survey. Neither the worst and not the best either. And also now i didn't owe an apology to anyone. If my earlier assumption was really true, i don't even mind apologizing.

A few things to be taken into note is that most of the countries on the top are really small nations. Smaller population means, better governance and greater accountability. In a country like India, ideals and virtues could very easily get lost in the crowd...! The vast country requires a lot more decentralization and distribution of powers amongst a long hierarchy of functionaries. More the crowd in the party, more the chance of someone involving in something dirty. Fodder scam, stamp paper scam and even the Kargil coffin scam to just name a few. From land, bridges, roads, sports and even to votes, corruption is involved everywhere...! Unfortunately even after knowing all this, we cant do much, because the law is inefficient and even the law enforcers are corrupt...!

And the poor common man...? He gives because he doesn't want to spend months together in the government office for a job that takes hardly five minutes. By doing this even those work, that normally should take a certain amount of months, get cleared up in minutes. By the lure of easy money, those in the seat of responsibility, ask even more, even to those who cant/wont give any. Those who refuse or cant afford it, are tormented to their wits end...!

Some would say that it isn't so bad what we have achieved in spite of all the odds, and feel happy that there are even worse nations. But seriously, whom are we kidding? This is really a sorry picture for an emerging "super power" with thousands of years of a rich cultural heritage. Don't those ancient values hold no bearing in these modern times? Oh well... maybe i am stretching it a bit. Anyway, there should at least be some bare minimum amount of shame involved when someone takes a bribe. Or at least think of the consequences of taking it and doing something wrong. Or taking it and doing something which was actually his job in the first place. I suppose they have enough money to send their conscience on a long trip to Europe...

This survey should not be too much of a surprise for someone who has spent quite some time in the country. We know how rampant corruption is here. And almost everyone has been a part of it, either this side or the other. From a traffic constable to the district collector, from the corporation worker to an MP in the parliament. We all know how well versed they all are in the art of passing the buck. The common man of course has become quite used to this entire affair. Yes a few may still be really honest and virtuous, but they definitely face a lot of resistance in their life. And unlike in a movie, the good guys don't always win, because its the bad guys who write the script.

After seeing wads of 1000 rupees in the parliament, my scant regard for the sincerity of politicians and our entire system, had hit the dirt. And it continues to remain buried there...

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Warning: You may be viewing a potentially unsafe site :-(

That is what Kaspersky Anti Virus thinks of my blog. Well. it began just like any another normal day, and i as usual started my online rituals with logging on to Gmail, and Pidgin ( a chat application ). All was fine till a a window pops with the familiar words "Hi da". After an exchange of a few pleasantries with my friend, he informs me that he was not able to access my blog. Holy Saint of Samaypuram...!! Well, this same friend had apparently sounded the warning bell when another fellow blogger's blog had been hacked recently. Fearing the worst i went to my blog and saw that all was well, and that 10 more people had visited my blog since the day before ( A sigh of relief ). All seemed peachy perfect. Nothing out of the blue what so ever...!
So i asked him what was the reason for the alarm, for which he replied that Kaspersky ( his trusted Russian Anti virus program ) had blocked my blog. With a perplexed mind, I ask him what it actually said..? And this is what he copied and pasted on to the chat window...
Kaspersky Internet Security 2009
Access denied

The requested URL could not be retrieved

The requested URL:
http://maxpotent.blogspot.com/

Is forbidden by Parental Control

Reason: Heuristic analysis
Generated:
Tue Sep 23 22:14:21 2008
Kaspersky Internet Security 2009

Ahh well... Parental control.. why on earth would parents think my site is offensive to kids? Do I have "such and such" content on my blog...?? I dont think so..!! Or is it because because I keep talking bad stuff about the government and God and all? I suppose young kids shouldn't be hearing negative stuff about these things. Did they rewrite some child protection laws while i was sleeping? Well I dont use abusive words.. other than maybe once in while.. minor offenses. Oh and once i used the term "Sex" in one of the posts. And that is maybe the second time i used that. So..? Or is it some malicious spy ware that is resident on the blog which i am totally unaware off...? If that was the reason, then why didnt Kaspy issue such a warning? 
Oh well.. whatever Kaspersky... good job. I had after all only a handful of visitors. And from now on, either i would lose at least one visitor, or that visitor would soon have to switch to a more blog friendly Anti virus software. Apparently the one who greatly contributed to this post, wont be able to read this, till he uninstalls Kaspersky..!!

Sunday, September 21, 2008

The Economic Gibberish...!!

I was absolutely clueless about what's happening to the world markets, and the economical jargon confused me beyond any hope. But i knew that what was happening could or will in some way affect us, whether we understand it or not. And guess what, i had nothing better to do other than stare at the news on TV. Well... from what i understood, it all began with America's very generous credit policies. Which meant that credit or loans were given to almost anyone, without even ascertaining the fact whether that fellow could pay it back or not. Mostly these loans were provided to purchase houses. As more and more loans started to be given out to buy houses, the land value too skyrocketed. Accordingly, the loan amounts given started to become even bigger. Now coming back to the fellow to whom the loan was given, might not even be eligible for the loan for whatever reason it might be.  

The banks didn't scrutinize much the details about him, and just gave him the loan. Even if he had a previous defaulting history, it didn't mind. Obviously over a period of years, the number of defaulters began to rise. People were not able to repay the loans, and would just hand over the house keys back to the bank. When more and more people begin to hand back the house, the land value would eventually plummet. This means the bank wont get back the money that it had loaned out, let alone any profit out of it.

Upon evaluation, it was suspected that the banks were just full of hot air. They held assets whose value would fall sharply. As the fear of such a situation began to be realized, people became panicky and began to lose faith in these large bank corporations. Eventually their share values dropped as people began to sell off the shares like crazy. Even those companies that had invested or did business with these American banks began to feel the pinch, on the possibility of a closure. Ultimately, leading to the bankruptcy of some, while others had to be rescued by the US government. A situation which was thought to be most unlikely in a capitalist economy, where there is minimum intervention by the government in most business institutions. Now, the government has actually become a major stake holder in some of the biggest American corporations.

Apparently the shocks of such a major fall were received in India as well, along with most markets around the world. But, as far as a similar situation arising in India is concerned, its most unlikely to happen. Though some business directly attached to these banks might be affected a bit. Such as a few IT companies that did their work with Lehman, AIG etc. Anyway... as told to me by someone, the credit policy in Indian Banks are far from being so liberal. Though there are quite a lot of annoying offers through telephone at a time when you are having a nice nap, they are not a representation of their actual willingness to approve your loan. Loans are given only upon reliable estimation of the person's repaying capacity. And from now on, after the US example, the checking will be doubled and tripled, just to be on the safer side. It will be the same regarding the issue of credit cards as well. 

Also in India, there is a concept, upon which most of the West sneer at, called "Saving". People here generally tend to save quite a good amount of money for an emergency or safety. Also a lot of Indians invest directly in Gold. While in US and Europe, they believe in investing all that they have...! Thus in case of any remotely possible signs of turmoil, people there tend to become fearful of becoming paupers overnight...!

Well, that's what i could dust off from my limited economic knowledge, and following up of the news, debates, and grown ups debating. There may be slight ( read as major ) inaccuracies in my analysis, which are begged to be forgiven. :)

Disclaimer : All theories, comments, opinions the sole property of the author and are purely for the purpose of killing some quality time. They should not be literally taken as any reliable advice or suggestions, unless they are confirmed by a suitable authority. Any mismatch or discrepancy is purely unintentional and due to the lack of knowledge about the subject. Any inconvenience, heart attack, tummy aches or nose itch are deeply regretted.


Sunday, September 14, 2008

Terrorism Rears its Ugly Head Again

It happened again. This time in the national capital, Delhi. Just when things appear to be a bit calm, things from no where came up and ruined the precious moments of peace. The lives lost are priceless, and the sorrow inconsolable. 

We are among the several, countries that are living in a constant threat of dastardly intentions from these rogue elements. Those responsible are in no way proving any point. For what they did this is absolutely without any reason or justification. Spilling the blood of innocent people is one of the most easiest, and the only way employed by these COWARDLY SWINES...! I guess its the pleasure obtained from doing such acts, rather than any objective that drive such maniacs to do evil. 

Being in one of the terror hot spots of the world is no easy job. Stepping out everyday is almost the same as going in combat in a war zone. In fact the terrifying remains of Delhi's blast look nothing less than a ravaged battle field. But, we Indians are quite strong. Whether it was Bangalore or Ahmadabad, things got back into gear in a very short time. People began to live their normal lives very soon. I am sure Delhi will too, very quickly.People will soon come out to shop and go to work as if nothing had happened. After all it takes more than these pathetic attempts to shake our morale. So those trying to push through their point of violence have failed miserably. 

To carry out these inhuman crimes in the name of God is even more disgusting. Well, if there is any such thing as God then i guess he/she/it is powerless to control his/her/its biggest mistake -  creation of humans. Its in moments such as these that have made me realize that the presence of a superior being is absent. Because i don't think the so called benevolent being would stand for such atrocities. If God does stand for all this, then I believe he/she/it is not a God at all. God has either got to be this side or the other. If God is not protecting innocent people, then i suppose he/she/it is on the other side. Or maybe protecting people is not on his/her/its nature of duties. May lightening strike me down for saying this... or some similar crap. Anyway, religion which was suppose to civilize man has been cunningly manipulated by him to justify these horrific acts, ultimately leading him to a be ruthless barbarian. 

Not to be too critical of the security services, they do tend to become a bit complacent after a while. But India is a huge country, and shares its borders with many "friendly" nations. Some of the rotten individuals are even home grown. And with readily available Do-it-yourself bomb making lessons online, its difficult to maintain an air tight security. 

Media of course is doing a very "fine" job. Repeatedly showing grief stricken crying relatives, and bloody blast sites. 24 Hours in-your-face coverage, and debates on why it happened as well as occasionally raising some really irrelevant issues ( Like the issue of Sivraj Patil changing clothes 3 times within 3 hours of the blast, being shown on a particular "news" channel) . Well... its their job, and after all its a 24 hour channel. News like this is like extra cream on their cakes...!

The human loss incurred by those around the world, due to hatred and violence, can't be compensated by any means. But time is the best healer and eventually people do move on. Will there ever be a time of eternal peace? Not possible till there is a creature called man.

JAI HIND..!

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

How Big will the Bang be..??


Today, that is on the 10th of September, scientists will be attempting to recreate the "Big Bang" event, at the Swiss-French border. Yes, to recreate the event which gave birth to the entire universe. Atleast, thats the theory. Truly a one of a kind experiment, which would allow the scientists to see never before seen particles, elements and objects such as the black hole and inter dimensional worm holes...! All at a small and manageble scale. Hopefully everything is well contained and in control...! Apparently it has also been speculated that the experiment could even lead to the End of the World..!! Just imagine the whole world getting sucked into a black hole inside out..!! Gasp..!! Ahhh well... 
According to the sources, the experiment is roughly as follows : 
At a purpose-built underground centre near Geneva, the scientists are carrying out limited tests on a multi-million euro machine called the Large Hadron Collider. The ultimate aim is to recreate conditions that existed immediately after the Big Bang.The team hopes to pinpoint dark matter, the name given to unseen particles thought to exist all around us and throughout space.
The experiment, which began this morning, involves smashing protons - one of the building blocks of matter - into each other at velocities only a fraction less than the speed of light.
In the flashes from the collisions, scientists expect to reproduce conditions that existed during the first billionth of a second after the Big Bang at the birth of the universe.
Anyway, this $10 billion experiment, has scientists from across the world on the edge of their seats. Around 2000 scientists are participating in it, of which 200 are from India alone..!! Awesome..! I do hope it goes off well, and that all of us are alive ( and in the same dimension ) to learn from it. Maybe even find solutions to the mysterrious universe and even locate other planterary life. Well... sounds nice.  But is it possible to pull it through..? At least the scientists involved are quite optimistic about the possibilities of the science project. The complete results however will be known only by 2009. Whew...  Till then the process will be going on, and the energy involved in it, will continue to grow. A ticking time bomb..?? On the other hand there are skeptics who have even filed a law suit against going ahead with it, due to the dangers that it is likely to pose. Others just shun it as an expensive scam..!
So.. end of the world, apocolypse, judgement day..call what you want?? Could this be it..? Well... i am hoping not, because there are a lot of things that I still haven't tried out. Like Bungee jumping, sky diving, crocodile wrestling, swimming with the Great white shark etc to name a few, which inadvertantly will lead to my own doom. Well, next time they plan to end the world, i need atleast a year's notice...!! But anyway, if its not this experiment that will end our existence, something else like global warming or nuclear Armageddon will lead us to our doom...!! Atleast in the other cases we have an early warning, and a reasonably good chance to save ourself. Well... maybe. As for this experiment goes, is all about handling the unknown. Oh and all you religious folks can look to the heavens for some support Lets just hope that this ingenious way to kill us, in the end, turns out to be quite harmless...!! Or it will be the biggest mistake in our entire history. Oh...but who will be there to know about this historical blunder..?? Maybe some three eyed aliens from the planet Zook will get a few laughs out of it...!
To read more about this experiment, check out the following link : 

Monday, September 08, 2008

From Shopping Frenzy To Burning Malls


Those living in Chennai would be very familiar with Ranganathan Street and its outrageous shopping crowds. I don't know about the others, but i simply hate those crowds over there...! I have never gone there to buy anything for myself. The only reason i go there is to buy some gift for some one's brother's or sister's wedding...!! Ah well... so its tough to move inch by inch in the swarming crowds, and then occasionally someone will shout in your ear, or step on your foot or brush their sweaty body against you... eeeww. I am always sacred of the possibility of someone sneezing at such close proximity to me..!! And if this wasn't enough, you have to be careful of your wallet, phone and other stuff in your pockets too...! Anyway, when i tell this to people, they say that I am being too snobby and that i should try to go along with the flow...! yeah right... Say what you want, but all this just sickens me..!!

Though i didn't want to raise this, fearing some protests from certain quarters of the society, i believe ( just by mere observation ) that its usually the women-folk who are more keen towards shopping. Well, at least the ads seem to be targeting them more than men. I suppose its the women who are their potential gold mines for them. Apparently men are mostly there for company or to carry the shopping bags and for using their credit cards maybe. Or shopping for the wife, or for the anniversary last week which he forgot. And maybe occasionally shop for a few stuff for himself too. Anyway, I could be wrong too, and being a bit too harsh on women. But this is not what i want to discuss in this post....

As it may seem, with people's increased purchasing capacity, shopping is sort of a ritual. Any festival or occasion is a good excuse to draw in people. Each and every festival is seen as a marketing opportunity. Announcing discounts seems to get their attention and it most certainly drives in huge hordes of people. Excellent Bait..! Oh and the amount of money they spend on the making of the ads is phenomenal too..! A great way to influence simple minds: use small cute kids, good looking models, a few old people, and a reluctant man ( husband ) if required ( who later agrees what a great deal it was ). 

Well then quite obviously the shops have to make room for the horde, to accommodate whom they go on to build multi storied shopping complex which blatantly defy building norms. An approval would be obtained for building 6 floors which will be openly violated by building an additional two floors. No proper safety rules are observed, which are supposed to be mandatory in all public buildings.

These are potential death traps with accidents just waiting to happen. Unfortunately we wake up only after the alarm bells ring ( purely a metaphor, as most of these shops don't have alarms ). The recent incident was just a minor one compared to how big a catastrophe that it could have led to. If the fire had happened during the afternoon or evenings on a weekend, then who knows how much carnage it could have led too. It wouldn't even be the fire which would have killed many, but rather the impending chaos and stampede. Its being told that the shop lacked even basic fire safety mechanisms. And such mechanisms are to be formulated during the approval of the plan itself, and then implemented in the building. That obviously didn't happen. 

Blaming the shop owner for it seems to be most appropriate, but is it? Why not some of the municipal and corporation officials who let the sub standard building come up under their noses, share a part of the blame too. After all it was built in one of the main centres of the city and not in some isolated jungle where no one could see it. Who knows how much money was stuffed into the pocket of an official, or how many silk Saree or jewellery their wives would have got as a "gift".

I guess its the fierce competition amongst so many shop owners that they just see their profits as the lone goal, forgoing issues such as safety and precautions. I do hope that people take the recent incident as a lesson and take steps to prevent any such incidents to reoccur. Umm... well lets all hope this happens soon, because there have been really horrific incidents in public buildings in the past, but very little was done about it later on. Anyway, i bet people have a very good reason for such a frantic shopping exercise.  So safety or no safety, people will still throng to these places and worship them. All it would take is the announcement of an X% sale..!

In a country where there are millions who don't get even one square meal a day, a few people spending thousands or lakhs shopping on just one day, seems a bit too discomforting. Now you might say that by buying the goods they are providing food for the poor artisans. But seriously, if the artisans  get a good margin of the profits then i will be most happy. The reality is that in spite of the huge demand, the artisans continue to be poor because these shop owners keep a good margin of profits for themselves. I know charity is not a natural behaviour, but still its worth a thought, that the price of one silk saree is probably what a poor fellow somewhere may earn in an entire year. So, think about it...

Wednesday, September 03, 2008

Law of Natural Selection

Natural Selection, as proposed by Darwin, is the process by which nature selects the strongest to carry on their genes to the next generation. Or aptly stated as Survival of the fittest. Man already has reached a point at which physical changes have ceased. Though natural selection still continues.

Nature normally eliminates the weakest or the sick from the pack. In case of man in the modern era there is a third angle to it - Economical fitness. So lets not ponder upon the elimination of the physically weak, as that has been going on ever since the first microbe wriggled on the planet. As for selection based on economic factors, it happens quite obviously, due to the economic disparity. Those weak in this are are naturally selected for elimination by other fellow men and nature as well. Here other than genes that are passed, social status and wealth are passed on too.

Poor people are driven to less comfortable places where they are ravaged frequently by nature itself - like storms, cyclones, floods, earthquakes etc. And how do they end up in these places..?? Through a long process of natural selection that forces them to be in a certain place where the rich think is appropriate for them. Lots of examples to cite : Bihar ( India ) has frequent floods, Louisiana (US) has frequent Hurricane...etc. These are just some examples of how poor people are pushed or kept in areas that are subject to nature's brutality. Yet they remain there because no one cares as much.

Its not always that nature hits the final nail in the coffin. Man sometimes does the final elimination himself too. For instance in the armed forces, its mostly ( not always ) that its the families of the poor who send their kids off to fight. Since those who can afford a better life choose not to do so. In parts Africa, hunger, disease and ethnic clashes has resulted in one of the most pathetic existence of humans, thus marking them for elimination. Most civil societies favour the rich and the powerful, while the poor are neglected. Justice systems are influenced by the rich, while the poor man's voice are forcibly suppressed.

In spite of all this disparity within the species, the so called "weak" ones still manage to survive. That's the determination and strength of the humans. In spite of their toils most are able to pass on their "poor people" genes to future generations. Its probably with their vast numbers that they depend on for their survival. As a matter of fact the superior ones want the weak to survive in order to use ( read as exploit ) them. That's why they ( they refers to a handful who are mostly indifferent to the plight of the poor / some politicians ) occasionally lend a hand to save them, in order to just make use of their service. Quite obviously , their loyalty too sways in the direction of those who show even the slightest bit of compassion towards them, even if its just a farce.

OK... this might not include everyone, but still its a valid point that some of the lowest in the ranks are vital to the survival of the species as a whole. They are the farmers, construction workers, menial laborers etc. They are like the worker ants of a colony. Not as important as the queen or as powerful as the soldier. Yet have a vital role in the survival of the colony. But we cant think of human being as ants, can we...?? We are a lot more complex and have the ability to choose our actions. Being indifferent to others unfortunately comes quite easily, but reaching out sincerely with a helping hand, without any ulterior motive, takes a lot out of a Man. Too bad that such angelic souls are very few and quite hard to find....


*Please Note: Here man refers to mankind as a whole, thus including women as well.