Tuesday, December 30, 2008

100th post at the eve of new year!!

It is the last day of a very eventful year, 2008. All TV shows, papers and magazines have their 2008 events list ready this time of the year. Keeping in with the trend , I thought it only apt that kplogs should do an event list of its own. 2008 has been a defining year for India in more than one way. India has had a roller coaster ride in 2008. Nevertheless, 2008 has put India another step closer to the dream of becoming a true superpower. Here is the glimpse of why I believe 2008 will go into history text books in the years to come.
1. 14th Jan 2008 : India shocks the world by surprise as TATA showcases the Nano, the cheapest car in History.
At the auto expo in Delhi, Ratan Tata unveils a 'dream-come-true' for many middle class families. With a mesmerising launch theatrics, Tata announces that the car will actually be sold at Rs 1 lakh. He creates news, world over as he brushes away cynics claiming the highest safety and performance standards for his car at that price.
2. 18th April 2008 :The inaugural 2008 IPL tournament starts in Bangalore
A brain child of Lalit Modi, that saw a revolutionary change in the way cricket was perceived and introduced innovative methods that hooked viewers from at least 25 nations across the world. IPL lasted for 46 days, with 59 matches scheduled, out of which 58 took place and 1 was washed out due to rain.
3. 28th April 2008: India creates history by launching ten satellites in one go.
The Indian Space Research Organisation saw the 230-tonne Polar Satellite Launch Vehicle (PSLV-C9) put into orbit an Indian Mini Satellite and eight foreign nano satellites besides the Cartosat-2A remote sensing satellite.
4. 13th May : Bomb blasts rock Jaipur.
Terrorists strike at Jaipur's busiest market, at the busiest hour, leaving 80 killed, and with over 150 injured.
5. 25th , 26th July : A series of seven bomb blasts rock Bangalore and several blasts disrupt Ahmedabad.
Bangalore struck by terrorists with 7 serial blasts killing 2 and injuring 20 and on the next day, a number of bomb blasts in Ahmedabad, kills 45 and injures over 160 people.
6. 11th August : Abhinav Bindra bags India's first Gold Medal in an individual category at the Beiging Olympics
Abhinav Bindra won the Men's 10m Air Rifle final after shooting a total of 700.5. He scored 596 (fourth) in the qualifying round and out-scored all other shooters in the finals with a round of 105.5. In the finals, he started with a shot of 10.7, and none of his shots were below 10.0.
7. 30th September: India signs historic civil nuclear deal with France.
Dr Manmohan Singh persuades France to be the first ever nation to sign a civil nuclear deal with India. This broke the chains that had prevented India to develop nuclear energy solutions for 34 long years.
8. 12th October: Sister Alphonsa Muttathupadathu becomes the first woman of Indian origin to be canonized as a saint by the Roman Catholic Church.
The Pope declared Sister Alphonsa a saint, after reading excerpts from the Holy Bible and himself read out the biography of Alphonsa after the ceremony.
9. 15th October: Aravind Adiga wins Booker Prize.
His debut novel "The White Tiger" wins him the prestigious Man Booker Prize, putting him on the list of Indians who have won this honour.
10. 17th October: Sachin Tendulkar becomes leading scorer in Test Cricket.
With 494 runs in 4 tests in the Border-Gavaskar Trophy series against Australia, Sachin becomes the leading runs scorer of Test cricket.he also becomes the first batsman to score above 12000 runs.
11. 22nd October : Chandrayan I India's first mission to the moon launched into orbit.
The Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) successfully launched Chandrayan I into orbit from Satish Dhawan Space Station, Sriharikota.
12. 26th November: Terror Strikes Mumbai.
Ruthless terrorist attacks in Mumbai at Hotel Taj, Oberoi Trident, the Nariman House and Cama Hospital shocks the world, and creates a new wave of anger amongst Indians, seeking for a complete change in the National security policy.
That was 2008. With all its highs and lows, it has taught us a lot. India is certainly in the center stage of action.
kplogs has another reason to celebrate this year end. This post is the 100th post on kplogs. After 1,323 views, 84 clicks from external sites and 226 comments in all it certainly feels like kplogs has come a long way. I want to take a moment to thank all readers of kplogs for the support and the encouragement.
Wish all the readers of kplogs, a prosperous,happy and peaceful new year.

Monday, December 29, 2008

Please Give Peace a Chance

To,
Mr. Ehud Olmert,
The Office of the Prime Minister,
The Knesset,
Jerusalem,
Israel.

Dear Mr Prime Minister,
I thought of writing to you much later. But the recent Israeli air strikes against the Hamas has put into me a sense of urgency and I thought it much relevant to write to you now. Firstly let me introduce myself. I am a perfectly balanced unbiased citizen of a country that proudly boasts of being a nation that has provided refuge to millions of races cultures and ideologies for more than 5000 years. I am an Indian.
I come from the same place where a frail old man who could not stand on his feet without the help of aides, taught the world that the only way to really win a war is through peace. We call him the Father of our nation. He is remembered world over (thanks to Attenborough and Sanjay Dutt) for having invented a very important and the only successful method of fighting against oppression. The theory of non violence.
We Indians have suffered attacks by terrorists all through out our History. Barbaric kings, emperors, the mughals, the colonists and a whole gamut of terrorists have plundered our lands. History has taught us something very important. Here is a gist of it.
Since the beginning of mankind, Man has been in war. It was first against fellow hunters and later against nomadic groups. He fought for his lands and his women. He later fought fought gold, and wealth and money. He fought to rule over the world. He fought for nations. He fought for nuclear supremacy. Then came the age of the World Wars and the Cold war. Each war led to another. Each aggression created a new one. When groups were trained to fight a war against Russians in Afghanistan, after the war these groups formed the LET,and the Al Khaeda. Some days back India was attacked by terrorists again.
History has ample evidence to show, that military aggression has no end. One leads to another. Sure, it can appear dominating or even brave. But History has taught us that every aggression can kill people at the best, innocent civilians women and children. Aggression can never kill War.
Some people in my country often tell me that India should be like Israel , tough on terror. Some people even think that the air strikes you carried out was the best action against terrorists like Hamas or even LET. I want to tell all these people just as much as I want to tell you that with all your great tough stand on terror, your highly specialised military forces, your non -negotiation and aggression policies, you have been an utter failure.
You are brave and even tough but you have been waging a war for nearly 2 decades now. Several times have you struck terrorist camps and celebrated. Several times you have fought ruthlessly and have killed hundreds. But I am afraid your problem is still not solved, it is just as bad as it was in 1988. If you think you have sent a strong message against terrorism I am afraid that your message was only an invitation for revenge. A revenge which will see more terrorist attacks and more deaths of innocent people all over the world.
I wish you could just learn from history, just as much as I wish that my country will stand up to the reputation of being the birth place of Gandhi. I wish you could have enough sense to see no air strikes or bombs can kill terrorism. I wish to remind you that now more than ever, the only thing that can save the world is peace. Peace at all costs. Even against terrorism. Resort to dialogue. Resort to non violent opposition.
I may sound out of fashion, to suggest that peace can win over ruthless terrorism. Please listen to the lessons of history. Even if we win a violent victory against terrorism, it will be no victory at all. For war can kill some people , leave other people wounded at heart. War will create more hatred. We need to stop this.
Peace may not look brave. But it the only chance for my children to see a beautiful world. Please give peace a chance!!
Yours sincerely
Innocent Civilian
India.

Sunday, December 28, 2008

You can't cure Terrorism with ASPIRIN !

When I looked up the Wiki link for 'Ajmal Amir Kasab' the only sole surviving terrorist of the 26/11 attacks, who has been reportedly singing like a bird to the Indian authorities (and the FBI??) I was revealed to a new dimension of his personality. I wish to present two interesting aspects that he has supposedly revealed during interrogations.
1. The first excerpt from the wiki page Ajmal Amir had but a limited understanding of jihad, based on the statements he made to authorities. He told interrogators "it is about killing and getting killed and becoming famous." "Come, kill and die after a killing spree. By this one will become famous and will also make Allah proud," is what the suspect said when police asked him what he understood about jihad.[78]........"When we asked whether he knew any verses from the Quran that described jihad, Ajmal Amir said he did not," police said. "In fact he did not know much about Islam or its tenets," according to a police source.[78]
2. The second excerpt from the same page He shocked police through his readiness to switch loyalties now that he was apprehended.[78]...."If you give me regular meals and money I will do the same for you that I did for them," he said.[78]
These reports seem to suggest that although Ajmal was a terrorist he wasn't a religious extremist. Till recently the two personality traits of being a terrorist and that of being a religious extremist has been juxtaposed in many minds, often equating the two. 26/11 has seemed to suggest a possible de-linking of the two. This looks to be a silver lining in the otherwise dark cloud of terrorism. Its easier to handle and curb terrorism, if the roots are political, economical or even ideological. The job gets difficult if the desire to perpetuate terrorism stems from a religious cause.
Whether we curb terrorism or not , the first consequence of this de-linking, will be an increased tolerance towards people who may share a religious identity with those who perpetuate terror. After 9/11, the world over has seen the development of a social polarisation on the lines of religion. People who had completely contrary ideals to those of Al Khaeda, but still shared first names or sacred texts with the members of the infamous organisation, have been at the receiving end of a serious social discrimination. The statements of Ajmal should necessarily reverse this trend.
Terrorism has caused profound damage to lives and property of innocent individuals world over. But it has also shocked he world with its seemingly inexplicable ways of taking 'normal-seeming' people into its folds. With unexpected arrest of a MNC employee in Bangalore, accused of having links with the world of terror, and with similar such incidents world over, the rationale of thinking behind these well educated, financially satisfied minds have been in question. It has puzzled many a people that religious sentiments could be such a strong motive for individuals to walk the board and kill innocent lives.
The statements of Ajmal on the contrary are more comforting. It is nice to see that terrorists like Ajmal are willing to switch loyalties in return for socio-economic benefits . One can only hope that Ajmal is a good representation of the average terrorist from a poor family in Faridkot or any other impoverished part of the world.
I want to conclude with a very old but relevant piece of writing by Zaigham Ali Mirza in the Khaleej Times dated December 2005 (Read: Religious extremism to be major concern). It says that the real concern for the nations of the world in the next 10 or 20 years will not really be terrorism, but religious extremism. it is worth observing that terrorism is merely a symptom and not a disease . The real disease could be poverty, social discrimination, ideological difference or religious extremism.
Stringent security establishments, increased intelligence and air strikes over terrorist camps are merely attacking the symptom. It is like eating aspirin for a headache. But the headache could be caused by something as small as a viral infection or something as serious as a brain tumour. Our real problem is the brain tumour, not the headache by itself.

Saturday, December 27, 2008

BREAKING NEWS

26/11, apart from having created numerous ripples in the Indian psyche, has probably brought to the forefront a very important concern regarding the nature of Indian TV journalism and the motives that propel its imaginations. Post Satellite television boom, a whole diaspora of news channels have found viewers hooked on to them 24X7. While the very quantity of news reporting might seem to suggest, that the viewers have a better choice, that the common man can be better informed or even that the plethora of 'news material' is on a way to making the democracy more mature, the content of today's news has led to a serious doubt that this may not be true.
Gone are the days when people after a tiring day's work, switched on their TV sets at 8:30 PM for a 30 minutes of daily news, (in Hindi, or English or sometimes in a regional language). Males of the family had to 'Shhh' their kids if they asked a question or even throw a stern glance if any interruptions happened during those 30 minutes . These 30 minutes defined the world . In quantity or content, those minutes were the final say. You did not choose what you wanted to hear, you did not complain if a certain coverage did not last more than 30 seconds.
It was a welcome change when colour TVs and Satellite television joined the family tree. Gradually but certainly the media gurus smelt gold in the news distribution market. 'Lo behold' and you turn on your TV today, and find news , analysis, debates and dramatisation all at the flick of a button on your remote. The gurus threw in advertisements for their sponsors. They worked hard to make their news reporting the fastest, the most colorful and the most popular. Female news readers got rid of their boring sarees and chose more attractive designer wear. The rickshaw wallah after having had a hell of a day on the busy streets now turns on to watch the newsreaders if not the news. 'Breaking news' and 'Flash news' crept into the bottom of your TV screens capturing the attention of a mindless TV surfer. Everybody got happy. Nobody saw the catch.
While News has become more and more colorful, it has also become audience conscious. The news channel with the highest viewership, (or TRP in media language) calls the bucks. A very uncomfortable situation I should say. Unlike most other professions,news journalism can get very nasty if it goes all out to satisfy its customers. There is a very good possibility that viewer oriented TV journalism is nothing short of the proverbial 'playing to the gallery.' Here's a simple test, if your favourite news channel is continuously and consistently reporting what you like to hear, chances are that you have fallen prey. Lets face it . 'Truth is bitter' , but if you are finding your news too sweet all the time, chances are that you are not listening to the truth at all.
I am afraid that somehow news reporting is increasingly getting mixed up with opinion making. News Channels in India are increasingly becoming judgemental commentaries than fact journals. No doubt, the human mind likes suggested opinions than dry facts. No doubt, that intended debates sound more exciting than evidence based realities. What is lost however, is the idea of news reporting being a free democracy's method of bringing 'facts' to the common man, and enabling him make informed opinions. Opinions are thrown on the common man today. If you don't like the opinion , change your channel.

Even as I write this, a hysteria of a possible war between India and Pakistan looms large. God forbid,but if any military aggression ensues, the world would be in a very bad situation. I wouldn't be far from the truth if I stated that the main culprit for any aggression , is not really the terrorists or even the inability of any Governmental diplomacy but that it is the 'Freedom of the media' . Unconfirmed pieces of news and ridiculous conclusions have made their rounds on the television sets all over the world after 26/11. The news channels have managed to get Indians mad at Pakistanis, and the Pakistanis mad at the Indians. Meaningless interpretations of innocent statements have created utter chaos in the mindset of both Governments. Heated debates have given opportunities to irrelevant personalities to make their points. The viewers have had no need to think. The (unconfirmed) facts, their interpretations, conclusions and opinions have all been given to the common man in a single package. The Breaking News.
In all this , it is very difficult for sense to prevail. Responsible reporting can be very bad of the News channel's TRP. But is absolutely necessary. Its paramount that we realise this much before it gets too late.

Wednesday, October 1, 2008

9/30, Another Day to Remember

Dr Manmohan Singh, turned 76 years 4 days back. He must have had a bad birthday, having missed out on what could have been the most memorable gift he could have handed over to the one and a half billion Indians back home. They had expected him to break the (arguably) the most significant bottleneck that stood in their way of industrial and economic stardom- Energy crisis.
4 days later ,Dr Manmohan Singh created history, as he persuaded France to be the first ever nation to sign a civil nuclear deal with India. He had broken the chains that had prevented India to develop nuclear energy solutions for 34 long years. The Energy Crisis could soon be a thing of the past.
It is also interesting that Mr Singh had also broken the chains of license raj 17 years back during his stint as the Finance Minister when he started the economic liberalisation process in 1991. That time though it was another crisis- the Balance of Payments crisis (the currency crisis).
If one were to actually reason out, the day 9/30/2008 could be just as important in Indian History as is 8/15/1947 or even 7/01/1991. These three days are all days of Indian Independence in one form or the other. While on August 15th 1947 we won freedom against colonization, on July 1st 1991 we won freedom against License Raj. And now, on the 30th of September 2008 we have won freedom against nuclear isolation.
This new independence will mean that India can tackle its existing energy supply demand imbalance and propel growth more seamlessly than before. This is the biggest thing thus far having happened to India's infrastrucutre. India currently meets only 3% of its energy demands through nuclear energy. All reactors in India have run at about 50% capacity due to non availability of nuclear fuel and efficient technology. After the deal was signed today a lot of industries including Larsen and Tubro having jumped into the bee-line to install more nuclear reactors in India.
The Prime Minister, will have the final laugh. Nothing -not even politics (read-Left opposition)
and corruption (read : MP buyout) - can prevent him from doing what it takes for India to grow.

Friday, June 20, 2008

An offer you cant refuse

Scene 1: The setting is all white, the audiences see a white back ground spotlessly clean, as the lights go up, a dark man dressed all in white, white shirt, white blazer, white bow, white shoes and white socks is carrying a white book and writing in it with a white pen. Beside him on the floor is another man naked to the skin, kneeling in front of and facing the man in white, with his hands folded almost like pleading.

ACT I

Man in White (GOD): Well! I am sorry....but all the slots are booked! we don’t have any after 2 years.

Naked man (Man): Are you sure Oh Lord! Oh creator of heavens and earth. Oh the Great almighty, are u perfectly sure. I need some time I don’t want to be born yet , I have not exhausted my enjoyment account in heaven. I want to spend some more time. May be 2 Heaven years more. I have 35, 73,478 Heaven hours of joy in my savings account. I have 34,377 Heaven pounds of laughter in my current account. I need to spend them my Lord. Give me some time.

GOD: My son, I understand your request. But please understand I have a waiting list of 120,239 dead humans at Peter's gate. They have accrued at least 6 billion heaven hours of happiness with all their good deeds on earth. They have been waiting for more than 300 days now. I can't push this any longer. I have my orders to start rotating joys and laughter to keep the cycle running.

GOD sighs.

GOD: My son, I can see your pain but do you see that the dead humans at Peter's gates are starting to get frustrated. They have waited long enough and now if we don’t reward them, they might find it useless to be good humans. Evil will prevail on earth and people will prefer the Hell because at least they are being accepted there. Hell has acquired 70,000, 000 Sq light years of space to accommodate evil doers. The Devils are fighting hard. If we don’t somehow start rewarding the good doers they will convert to evil.

Man : But at what cost my lord? I was promised eternal happiness for all my good doings on earth when I entered Peter's Gates 7 years ago. Eternity was converted to 50 years then reduced to 20 years and now, I am asked to leave immediately. Is this what I get for having served your cause in earth for 59 long earth years?

GOD: Do not fret my son, remember that GOD is with you and knows all your pain. When time comes you will be rewarded.

Man sighs,

MAN: (to himself) Now that’s a tough argument to debate. When my time comes I will be rewarded ..Uhh!.....

GOD interrupts

GOD: …Did u say something my boy? Were you being blasphemic? Blasphemy wont take you anywhere dear lad. Praise the Lord and happiness is all yours.

Man: I’m sorry…Fine Fine (stands up) tell me when do I have to be born?

GOD: 23rd June Monday 07:45 PM Local time at Addis Ababa.

Man : Addis Ababa?? What on earth is that?

GOD: Well!! It’s a nice place. Mountains, lions and deserts…. Its scenic beauty has always been a pleasure for me. Untouched by humans, no pollution pristine beauty of GOD.

Man: Fine good …thanks for that!! But where on earth is this place? …Addis Ababa is it somewhere in Turkey or something? Or in Brazil?

GOD: No...No my boy, It’s in Ethiopia. The diamond of the African Mainland.

Man: What??? Africa? But I saw yesterday in the cosmic news channel that there is a lot of violence out there. People are being robbed of their money and there are poisonous snakes in Africa.

GOD: Don’t worry..the snakes wont harm you . You are scheduled to live for 92 earth years in Addis Ababa.

Man: (appearing shocked) what??? 92 years!!

GOD: Yes!! Aren’t you thankful?? This will be your gift for having agreed to sign the contract for releasing your Heavenly joy days to go back to earth. You see!! GODs never forget when you help somebody. The reward is immediate.

Man: Oh yes!! Sure. Ok now tell me what will be my objective on earth?

GOD: Objective …”Aargh’….(Clears his throat)…well it must be somewhere in the book (turns the pages around) …or….maybe….Ahh yes….Nothing.

Man: Nothing??

GOD: Yes!! That’s the great news… No objectives for you at all!! Your aim will be to follow all the sets of rules laid down by the society and your family on earth.

Man: But …what does that mean??? I mean don’t I have to achieve something like.. Maybe form a religion or maybe start a huge business firm or become a great entertainer or a famous person or something ? ..I mean cant I work hard and become something important.

GOD: No No don’t say that we have run out of slots for important people on earth. The waiting list is already 350.

Man: (grinning sarcastically) well!! Hell is having a huge number of slots for important people. They are issuing “Important” identities to almost everybody going to earth. The number has gone up drastically after some human called Osama ran flights into some buildings… and here you say you have fixed number of slots.

GOD: Well!! If you are so unhappy maybe you should search for your own objectives when you reach earth. We have run out of objectives at least.

Man: (puzzled) was it not the case that everybody was put on earth by GOD for a purpose or an objective.

GOD: Yes! That’s true. But that was before 1945 when we had those wars in earth and had a lot of space in heaven for good people to come. But now we can’t keep waiting for objectives to put you on earth. That is something you have figure out yourself. If you want. Objectives are not mandatory.

Man: But then what am I supposed to do?

GOD: easy…Anything. You can do just about anything. You are not expected to achieve anything when you reach earth. Just be a good guy. Be good to your family your friends and help the cause of GOD. Just follow the rules laid down by your society whatever they are. That’s very important. Love your wife and your kids. That’s important. If you are bored, you can find some objective yourself .Like maybe you score 100 goals in football all your life or maybe train your son to become a doctor or something.

Man: Fine… I just hope that I have something to do for 92 earth years.

GOD: Don’t worry use the time to accumulate joy Hours in your Heavenly account. And relax. GOD will take care of everything.

GOD raises his hands and closes his eyes

GOD: Now I erase all your memory… have a good Life.


Lights dim……

Scene 2: The setting is a small house. The interiors of a mud hut a small closed window

Lights go on

ACT II
A dark bald midwife is squatting on the floor with a sweet baby. The mid wife is wearing shells around her neck, she is beaming with pride. A dark woman is tired and is lying on a straw mat. A short dark man extends his arm and accepts the baby.

The baby cries. Everybody is happy.

Black Man: It’s a boy. He will bring a great name to our family. Glory be to Lord.

Lights are dimmed

END OF PLAY

The Transit Lounge



He was sitting alone in the Transit Lounge. Watching intently at the television screen. The images moved past his attention. He was a lone face in a midst of a thousand faces staring at the screen. His face was the normal face not any more identifiable, not any less recognisable. It was a perfectly true honest and completely normal human face. His features did not lie his feeling . His attributes did not reveal any secret. He was alone and had just enough ambition to be able to make him just what he was -- "Himself".
He turned around to his fellow passenger in the lounge to exchange some small talk. Petty talk - talk of no real significance. Maybe about the weather, or maybe about the headlines in the newspaper on the racks. The only significant truth enough to matter any one of those thousand faces that had turned to speak to their fellow passengers was the fact that they were all relatives of a temporal nature, friends for a moment. Only for the moment they remained in the transit lounge. The smiles were temporal, the handshakes were short lived, the jokes were trivial, the laughter was phony. But that did not matter to him. The only thing that mattered was that he had to carry on. Carry on away to his destination when his flight would be announced. Everything else was temporal. No matter how true or fake they were.
He had entered the transit lounge alone. The way he had entered this world alone. Completely alone. Loneliness was not a stranger to him, because that was his natural state as he entered the world from his mother's womb. He did not ask for it. Nobody had asked for his permission. But he was on the face of the earth wondering the purpose of his arrival. As if every transit lounge had a purpose. As if every wait was worth the patience.
When he met his friends at school he thought he belonged to them. He thought they belonged to him. But they belonged to him no more than his fellow passenger did. They left him alone when their flights were announced. Left him alone to battle the reality of this world. The truth of the Transit Lounge.
It mattered to him who won the game. It mattered to him what the girls thought of him. It mattered to him which government would rule again. It mattered to him who won the war. It mattered to him how they played the game. But he never belonged to anybody in the transit lounge. He never belonged to his friends,his parents, his work , his wife ,his country or his pride.He never belonged to anybody ,for everybody was just a fellow passenger in the Transit Lounge. Nothing mattered more than the petty talks about the weather that he shared with them. Nothing mattered more at all.
But soon the petty talk was over and his flight was announced. He had to leave. He had to stop his talk. No matter how much they mattered to him. No matter whom he loved or what he wore. No matter how successful he was or how much a failure. No matter what it all meant. He had to leave. Nobody could stop him anymore. His flight was announced. He has to leave alone........again.
Some fellow passengers cried that he had to leave. The others continue to watch the television screen. He had to leave the way he had arrived. ALONE. Even as he closed his eyes and joins the dust, a new face appears in the Transit Lounge.
The world is a simple Transit Lounge!

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

The Rat Race



It was a sea of people! Worn out and hungry. There were no smiles , no signs of laughter. Curved brows, eyes intent on a distant goal, hazy but a certain goal. It was a sea of people on the field. All rushing towards a distant somewhere.
Women held their infants in their arms as they rushed , seemed worried what if they did not make it to the end. Men ran in coats and ties, in cassocks and gowns, in khakis and blacks in battered clothes. They ran in the sunshine, they ran in the rain they ran in the swamps pulled and tugged at each other but they ran. Children afraid of getting tramped on ran with the toy in one arm, the other arm rushed to seek for the nearest thing they could pull down to walk on.
People rushed with a frightening frenzy towards the goal they didn't know how it looked like but were sure it must have looked good because everybody else was running. Some people never wanted to run, but were trapped within the running mass. Held on their balance even as they were pushed along the trial of zillions of people.
Some were strong and they pushed down the people in front of them and walked on them till they found stronger people in front of them doing the same. Some were tired and old, with hair greying in the sides and balding, lost their teeth but ran. Some smoked cigars as they ran and they felt good about all the running. Some ran with the doctor's coat, some ran with knives guns and spades shouting slogans of a unique kind.
The eyes were narrow and looked sinister. The lips curled into a thin straight line, they ran in chaos, never paused for a breath but ran. They didn't have the time to wait for anybody. Mothers, brothers and lovers were all left behind as they tried to run to the finish line. A line they never knew how it looked.
Some died while they were running and others just trotted on them to continue. Some time later they ran so fast that , when they looked for a while at their neighbours they found their vision hazy. Their limbs had claws and their face had whiskers.
They had all turned into rats.
---The bad thing about the Rat Race is that even if you win, you are still a Rat----

Tuesday, May 13, 2008

The Capoeira has Begun!

"Two individuals sway around each other in the middle of the room. One reaches out with his foot to trip the other, only to fall, caught off-balance because he has been cleverly dodged. But the would-be tripper is unfazed, and hurls himself into a backwards, fluid cartwheel. Observers who surround them play a role as well, as they sing, smile and laugh at the contenders." --Judy Bradford.

An interesting description of the Brazilian fusion of song , dance and martial art form. The Capoeira, the folk form of native Brazilians developed in the 19th century has now started making itself visible in the way Brazil is rising. From being an impoverished underdeveloped economy of African slaves, now Brazil has more than 190,000 individuals with more than a million dollars of assets. A fast developing economy, with sound business fundamentals Brazil is the new star in the horizon of BRIC nations of India,China and Russia.

Financial rating agency Standard & Poor's awarded Brazil the "Investment Grade" status last week and sent the country's stocks to a soaring high. Brazil's stock market 'Bovespa' was one of the best performing markets of the year 2007. While the rest of the world is still reeling under the pressure of the rising commodity prices, Brazil sits contented being one of the the largest producers of soya, a very important globally consumed commodity. A series of offshore discoveries by the state owned Petrobas reckons Brazil being a major oil producing nation soon.

The dance has just begun. Brazil is in lines with its Brazilian description Pais do futuro (country of the future). The sleeping giant of South America has awakened. The Capoeira has begun!

Monday, May 12, 2008

A 100 Million Dollar Mistake.

After the shocking but well deserved sacking of Charu Sharma, as the CEO of the Bangalore Royal Challengers and the shameful performance of Bangalore's team in the IPL, media savvy businessman and owner of the Bangalore Royal Challengers, Dr Vijay Mallya admitted his expensive mistake he made while he auctioned for the players for his 111.6 million dollar franchise for the IPL.
In an embarrassing report in cricinfo.com (Read:'Biggest mistake was to abstain from selection' - Mallya ) Mallya claims that the poor judgement of Rahul Dravid and a backing by Charu Sharma, got him a team which has been often referred to as a Test team rather than a 20-20 team. He quips.
"My biggest mistake was to abstain from the selection of the team. Though I watch a lot cricket whenever possible, I am no cricket expert at the end of the day.....I had a separate list of players that I wanted. But since Dravid is such an iconic player I trusted his judgment. And Charu Sharma also backed him. After seeing the final list, my friends told me it looked like a Test team,...But I backed both of them thinking that they advised me properly. Unfortunately in cricket, unlike in any other sport, the captain is the boss."
Having lost 6 of the 8 games they played the Bangalore Team remains at the bottom of the points table and shows no signs of improving from there. The mistake of selection claimed by Mallya will only demotivate the players further and am sure will fail again under pressure. Its certainly been a costly mistake. A mistake that millions of die-hard Bangalore fans(including myself) are finding difficult to digest.

Has Democracy Won in Karnataka?

After what was predicted (and feared ) will be a very low turn out for voters in the first phase of elections in Karnataka, a refreshing 66% of the 1.73 crore electorate managed to execute their constitutional right by voting in this elections. Well! that's the good news. The bad news is though, is that the real turn out has been whopping huge in the rural areas, while the Bangalore urbans turned out in meagre numbers recording a low of 44% voter turn out. I would like to, in this post put forth a perspective which touches upon the nonchalant attitude of Bangalore urbans when it comes to voting.
The media is largely followed and appreciated by the urbans. The nation wide television termed the first phase of elections as "The Battle for Bangalore". Debates thronged in different parts of Bangalore City. Large discussions ensued the real issues concerning this elections. People claimed that the real issues were "Bangalore City Infrastructure" "BIAL airport" and "Bangalore becoming a global hub". For a moment prior to the elections, it seemed as if the issues like "Caste Politics" , "Cauvery" and "farmer suicides" will take a back seat and Bangalore will receive a fresh new life after the elections. But that, given the voter turn out in urban Bangalore, I guess is yet again going to be a remote possibility.
Bad roads and slow paced construction of flyovers and on every Bangalorean's discussion topic almost everyday. But Bangaloreans , I guess don't have a solution. Politician bashing and Government bashing although has become a fashion statement in the IT capital of India, the real people who deserve a thorough bashing are the very Bangaloreans themselves. When it was called upon them to form an identity, when it was asked upon them to become a part of a voice, when it was demanded of them that they act to solve their problems, they failed. A low voter turnout in the current situation of Bangalore is not an accident, Its a crime.
I am sure, once this election goes through and when the government is formed, democracy would have won. It would have brought forth the real issues that concern our state. It will address the problems of the real people who matter, whose problems are so grave, that they decide to exercise their franchise through voting. I wouldn't be surprised if that were the problems of the 78% of the rural voters and not the 44% of the Bangalore urbans. I wouldn't be surprised if caste reservations and farmer subsidies are on priority on the government's agenda, and not the Bangalore Metro or the flyover in Yeswantpur. And when that happens I hope the tech savvy, fashion conscious ,IT capital of the country wont have anything to complain about.

Sunday, May 4, 2008

An Unforgettable Sunday in May

Sitting by the Aisle,
and watching all the green
The setting sun, the midnight soil
quite a weekend it has been
Freshly painted walls,
a newly laid out lawn
the touch of tiles beneath the feet
and the birds before the dawn.
The lovely games we play
the fights and times of joy
Stories on a moonlit night
resound on each brick and toy
Its more than just a house
Its more than just four walls
Its more than just four humans
who walk across these halls.
Its a warm unit of happiness
like the cool breeze on a summer day
A lovely family in a lovely home
celebrating on this May Sunday.
(this is written on the day of celebration of the first anniversary of my home-'Sree Krishna' at Palakkad in God's own country)

Saturday, May 3, 2008

A letter to the PM

Dear Mr. Manmohan Singh,

I hope this letter finds you in the pink of health and consciousness (I am doubting the latter though) .And convey my hearty congratulations to Ms Sonia Gandhi on her being declared as one of the most influential persons of the contemporary world order. (I am certain she is influential, she runs the world's largest democracy even without being on power!).

I decided to write to you, to commiserate with you on your bag of troubles that have suddenly shrouded you. I want to congratulate you on having successfully demonstrated your philosophical, spiritual and populist side in the wake of elections. Unfortunately for you , your problems started in 2007 when the prices started rising and eventually the sub prime crisis, and then India's participation in the global markets collapse, and then the unheard of levels of inflation in the country. Riding on a continued growth story for the rest of your term, it has been unfortunate for you that all your troubles should resurface on a possibly election year. Tough luck mate.
No doubt you have tried your best though. Rs 60,000 crores of a gift for inefficient farmers surely will encourage them to concentrate lesser on their farming and more on your vote bank. It' s good in many ways, firstly it saves the trouble of having to produce efficiently. Clearly your methods have ensured lack of quality supply of food grains, through populist measures like these and ones in the past. I know the critics argue that to control the inflation we must improve our supply (contrary to what your schemes have done). But never mind the critics, you can control the inflation by reducing the demand for food grains and other products instead . After all "reducing demand" serves just as good as "improving supply".
You have already started implementing the "reduce demand" campaign, you have advised corporates to reduce their paychecks themselves in a "moral" move to help reduce inflation. You have asked them to earn lesser and lesser until they don't have enough money to spend. This seems like sound logic. After all where can there be a demand if there is not enough liquidity to buy. I'm sure the banks are supporting you to a good extent. They have increased their CRR, and helping in curbing liquidity in the market. I like your thinking so much that I have asked my family to eat lesser and lesser everyday, in a week's time we will need no wheat, rice, soya or oil.
This way the international rise in prices have no bearing on our family. I am advising my neighbours to follow suit.
I am sure you don't consider strengthening the rupee as a solution, as this will affect our exports and hence the growth. It is important that the US continues to buy our series of hi tech software even if we have completely given up eating grains in a "moral" move to save the economy. Yes! growth is more important. It is important that the US continues to buy website maintenance services even if they can't afford to pay for it (in the wake of the impending recession). It is okay, if domestic consumption is restricted through rising interest rates. After all consumption is bad for the inflation; the momentum tends to create demand.
I was wondering what other plans you have up your sleeve? Maybe attack rising fuel prices by promoting bullock carts? Or identify weak ailing farmers and give them more money to produce only weeds for the bullocks to eat? Yeah! and ask the Indian railways to consider making rails out of stone instead of steel? I am amazed at the choices you have.
Thank you for the direction. India is shining after all.
your sincerely
Citizen of India.

For Zimbabwe, the Fight has only Begun


The official results are finally out. Mysteriously though the results make sure that nobody gets a majority in excess of 50% vote - in spite of earlier claims by MDC and several observers that Mr. Tsvangirai had won 50.3% of the total electorate. The official results (also confirmed by a few independent observations) claim that Mr Mugabe and Zanu PF, managed to make about 43.2% of the votes, and Morgan Tsavangirai and MDC will have only 47.9% of the share.
According to the law in Zimbabwe, if nobody gets a majority in excess of 50% of the vote, the situation will run into a "run off vote" in this case, between Mr. Mugabe and Mr. Tsvangirai. Which (according to Tsvangirai) is exactly what was desired by Robert Mugabe. The situation seems very similar to the last presidential elections in Zimbabwe.
Mr. Tsvangirai has been maintaining a stand that Robert Mugabe has scandalously tilted close to 120,000 votes to his side and that he would not participate in any kind of "Run Off" until more international independent observers are involved. Amid all the chaos and violence, out of fear for losing his life, Mr. Tsvangirai is outside Zimbabwe.
What was hoping to be a healthy change for the governance in Zimbabwe has turned into a nasty political war claiming innocent Zimbabwean lives (Read: Krishna Prashanth: The Zephyr turns into a Tornado and Krishna Prashanth: A Zephyr in Zimbabwe).
In his 28 year long term as the president of Zimbabwe, Mr Mugabe has denounced western media and their interference in Zimbabwe. The pictures of BBC reporters waiting in the Zimbabwe-South Africa border, to get a glimpse of some news from the inside the troubled nation, is something that we get to see everyday.
Looks like for Zimbabwe, the fight has only begun.

Friday, May 2, 2008

Innovation Centre- A Dream Come True

Remember that ad of IBM where a lady from a corporate organisation speaks tall words and claims she has a place created for making innovations the "Innovation Centre"? IBM makes a message that Innovation does not come through talking but by "doing".For the Industrial environment ABB India, is "doing" to innovation which very few companies n India have done in the past. Clearly Innovation is the distinctive business advantage provider of the future.


A report on Economic Times dated May 2nd 2008, has Mr Biplab Majumder, the CEO and Managing Director of ABB India ltd. speaking rather proudly about the Innovation Centre that has developed around 36 patent applications for global use. (Read: ABB's on a scorching growth path)
Mr Majumder says thus about the Innovation centre: "...The largest research and development center within the group is now based out of India, after shifting base from Germany. ABB India has even set up an innovation center in Bangalore with a team of five engineers who have made 36 patent applications till date, out of which five have been accepted by ABB in all its worldwide businesses. ....."
Five enthusaistic Application Engineers from Drives ABB India, (Pradeep A, Haja Nizamudeen, Gargi Karmakar ,Vikaskumar B and Myself) supported by a radically thinking ABB management dreamed of a centre for creating innovations, a centre for promoting the idea of leading the market than , merely conquering it. Nearly 3 years ago, a journey that we embarked on has seen the light of its day, and has become a role model for many more businesses in India to follow suit. I am sure this is a small symbol of the creation of a new work order in Indian business atmosphere.

Singing for Brains !

Sonia Gandhi, making way into the TIME magazine's 100 most influential people created headlines world over. But another very interesting person who made it into the elite list was Dr. Jill Bolte Taylor. A very enigmatic character, she travels round the US singing and educating the masses about the beauty of the brain and the value of brain donation for research into the severe mental illnesses. She sings for brains!!
Her charming character might seem ever more special and super human, when we hear her story as published in her website (http://drjilltaylor.com/about.html):
"Dr. Jill Bolte Taylor is a trained and published neuroanatomist. She specializes in the postmortem investigation of the human brain. Because she has a brother who has been diagnosed with the brain disorder schizophrenia, Dr. Taylor served for 3 years on the board of directors of the national NAMI organization (National Alliance on Mental Illness) between 1994-1997. Currently she serves as President of the Greater Bloomington Affiliate of NAMI........But as irony would have it, on December 10, 1996, Dr. Taylor woke up to discover that she was experiencing a rare form of stroke, an arterio-venous malformation (AVM). Three weeks later, on December 27, 1996, she underwent major brain surgery at Massachusetts General Hospital (MGH) to remove a golf ball size hemorrhage that was placing pressure on the language centers in the left hemisphere of her brain.For the past ten years, Dr. Taylor has been successfully rebuilding her brain - from the inside out. In response to the swelling and trauma of the stroke which placed pressure on her dominant left hemisphere, the functions of her right hemisphere have blossomed. Among other things, she now creates and sells unique stained glass brains. In addition she published a book about her recovery from stroke and the insights she gained into the workings of her brain. The book is titled My Stroke of Insight: A Brain Scientist's Personal Journey."
Simple as you might say, this is what she says on being chosen for the honour
"What an honor it has been to be chosen as one of TIME Magazine's 100 Most Influential in the World for 2008!This all came about because I was invited to give an 18-minute presentation at the TED conference in Monterey, CA on February 27, 2008. TED stands for Technology, Entertainment, Design - three wide-ranging subject areas that are, collectively, shaping our future. Every year, 1300 of the world's leading thinkers and doers gather together for four days of networking, education and exposure to new ideas. Past speakers and performers have included Bill Clinton, Bill Gates, Paul Simon, Richard Branson, Frank Gehry, Philippe Starck, James Watson, Billy Graham, Jane Goodall, Al Gore, and Bono. However, TED is about much more than famous names. It is about passion, laughter, beauty, and ingenuity. It is about ideas capable of changing the world, and I was given 18 minutes to share my personal story and an idea that I believed was worth spreading. My experience at TED was both phenomenal and life transforming. See for yourself by visiting www.TED.com"
This surely is an inspiration.

Tuesday, April 29, 2008

Loving the Villian

After the Maoists marched to an incredible victory in the elections in Nepal, the Maoist hero Prachanda, the leader of the victorious communist party of Nepal (Maoist) is now beginning to win a lot of hearts in the elite classes of the liberal Indians. The villain of the past (pre-2005) era is suddenly afresh with energy and a chocolate-boy-next door image as a pragmatic leader.
It doesn't matter anymore, that Prachanda was the man behind the massacre of innocent civilians in different parts of Nepal by the well-trained, well-armed and well-motivated insurgent army raised by him. It is of no consequence that Prachanda had contacts with the Shining Path guerrillas of Peru. It hurts nobody anymore that he helped the Maoists in India, particularly in Andhra Pradesh in clandestine operations against India, particularly against the Indian Army. It is forgotten that he used the support of the Nepalese Royal family secretly to plot against the Indians.
Now, he is the pragmatic leader, the man for the future of Nepalese relationship with India. The liberals don't mind his communist ideology, they love him all the same. He made it apparent in many of his statements in Nepal that he would not consider democracy as genuine unless it enabled him to become the President of a republican Nepal, but that did not sound a jarring note in India . The desire to encourage his seeming metamorphosis became the driving force of policy-making and the negative comments emanating from him from time to time were overlooked.
But what we need to realise is that this burgeoning love for somebody who was once an insurgent though practical, needs to be handled delicately. From an India-Nepal integration point of view, welcoming an insurgent movement into governance and integrating it in the mainstream is a touchy process, which has to be handled carefully and gradually. In its over-eagerness to achieve integration, India should not create new problems in Nepal. India's method of managing the process of integration, has been successful with the so-called Naga Federal Government when Indira Gandhi was PM. in the 1970s and with the Mizo National Front under Indira Gandhi and Rajiv Gandhi in the 1980s. Now after 20 years, and with another very close neighbour in a similar fate, India needs to watch out.
The Villains can become the Heroes, no doubt but take that with a grain of salt.

Sunday, April 27, 2008

Devana-Yelli??

That is the new punch phrase for a public campaign started by the Bangalore Mirror, to push for a better and a faster connectivity between Bangalore City and the fast upcoming Bangalore International Airport at Devana Halli. The "Devana Yelli " phrase is soon catching along, for its short and cynical color. For the non-bangaloreans :"yelli" in Kannada means "Where is it?".With just six weeks remaining for the Airport to finally open up, a lot of Bangaloreans are worried about the poor connectivity related problems to the Airport.
A satirical Ad in Bangalore Mirror reads thus.

“Check-in 5 minutes/Boarding flight 10 minutes/Take-off 15 minutes/Flying time 1 Hour/To reach airport 3 hours”!

With all the teething problems related to connectivity, it is the short haul flights that will suffer. Like Bangalore-Chennai or Bangalore- Hyderabad. A lot of ideas to solve the problem are making the rounds, (including super fast trains and cable cars) The solution whatever be it, is to be executed real fast. The Spanking Super Airport , without these solutions could well become a bottleneck. Fingers Crossed!

The Obnoxius Weed Resurfaces Again

Its surprising and shameful to see some "icons" who carry with them the respect and admiration of millions of fans across the nation, never seem to learn what it takes to be at that position of being an idol. No prizes for guessing the name of the most famous 'spoilt brat' of the Indian Cricketing history. Yes! Undoubtedly Mr Harbhajan Singh.
He got scott free (thanks to the rather distasteful but overwhelming support of "we the pride loving Indians") in Australia,after committing rather some shameless crimes, and perpetuating uncalled for controversies and then justifying his actions as a retort of cricketing aggression. Volumes were spoken on the new found bravery of the surdar of spin, and his ability to stand up to structured Australian Mind games. Although, after the nasty stories doing its rounds in the IPL today I'm sure you will agree to my earlier post on this issue.( Krishna Prashanth: Fallen Face on floor- still no dust on the chin!! )
I am sure and very certain that he should be punished, if the game is to enjoy any wee bit of respect. If you are a Bhajji fan, great and so be it. As long as it is the spin that entices you kudos!
But if you admire him for his aggression, its time to search for a different role model.

Thursday, April 24, 2008

The Spine of the Nation can't Afford its Steel

The rising steel prices is a matter of concern for every industry. The first to feel the heat is unquestionably the Railways. The Indian Railways often quipped as the "Spine of the Nation",is probably moving into a swamp with many of its contractors threatening to stop further construction activities unless they were covered for the uncertainties pertaining to Steel prices.
Vendors who supply finished steel and other components used for manufacturing coaches and wagons, too, are walking out of contracts they had signed with the railway ministry.
Rising inflation has been precarious and has left everybody pondering for a solution. However,the price of steel has been rising faster than the overall inflation. The annual growth in the index for steel was almost four times the annual rate of inflation at 7.14%.
The result has not been sweet for the world's largest employer.The Indian Railways runs the risk of a major setback to its plans to ramp up freight capacity, which is currently operating at its peak, through a big step-up in capital expenditure. In the railway budget this year, minister Lalu Prasad had said that capital expenditure would be increased from Rs31,783 crore in 2007-08 to Rs37,500 crore in the current fiscal year. The railways has already started preparatory work to construct the dedicated freight corridor, a 2,700km railway grid that will connect Mumbai, New Delhi, Kolkata and Chennai. And then it all comes crumbling down like a cookie. Rumours are abound that there has also been a shortage of steel for rails, for completion of several projects that are underway.
Steel prices have a tendency of pulling up the prices of everything else. Being the backbone of the economy, the Railways will be forced to increase their freight charges if the steel prices don't cool off. Almost two thirds of the nations freight is carried by the Indian Railways. So the next time you find that milk prices have increased, you might have a reason to blame steel.

Wednesday, April 23, 2008

Dead Man's Tales

Time slips like sand
held between your fingers
Little moments and winks
die before one remembers

Will you come again
and end this needless madness
Or, are you also dead?

Where are those noises
That woke me up in the night?
Why is all this silence around

Whose corpses are these
That walk like they don't see me
Where are they going to
and live in homes stacked like tins

I'm all broken and hungry
but its okay, I think
I can manage
No matter how hard you try
You can't kill a man again.

Sunday, April 20, 2008

It's Victory for Cricket in the end!

IPL - The three letters of the alphabet, which in recent history has rigged up the fiercest debates in the interest of the future of cricket. The Mega Launch in Bangalore on Friday night has really been only a tip of the iceberg for what this competition has in store for millions of fans across the world. Multi Millionaire businessman Vijay Mallya owning the team from his home town, Bangalore Royal Challengers had little to complain even as his team lost to Sharukh Khan's Kolkata Knight riders, after the game. The format of IPL seems to have pulled in a chord for the average cricket follower, the largest mass, a treat for any advertiser and millions and millions of dollars still to be made.

The heady mix of bollywood entertainment and action packed cricket that this format of the game has raked in compels me to correlate this from a business point of view to the famous business mantra "The money is in the bottom of the pyramid". The bottom of this pyramid of cricket followers is the masses comprising the average office goer, the rickshaw wallah, the page 3 party animals even the 'saas bahu ' fans--the housewife. This is for the common man who in his everyday walk of life has no time to appreciate the 5 day version of the game and its unique uncertainties that make it a game of slow strategy. He has no time to appreciate the direction of the swing or the effect of the blowing wind. He has no time to understand the nuance of a sweet 'googly' or the sinister 'doosra'. All he has is 3 hours of peace, after a hard day's work; maybe with his cup of filter coffee or with a bottle of local rum. He needs some action to pump up his adrenalin that he may forget the face of his boss, the face of his wife. He wants to see colors on his newly bought color TV, not merely white hats and a red ball. He loves to see the fireworks, he loves the scantily clad cheerleaders. He loves to see Preeti Zinta or Sharukh Khan dancing on the stands rooting for their respective teams. He doesn't need to be loyal to any team. No nationalism, patriotism or any of those complicated philosophies. Just plain and pure entertainment.

While the purists will not disagree with me on the possible success of the business model. They hate what this might do to the beauty of the "Gentleman's game". I have some good news for the purists too. Remember the India Australia series down under? Remember the ugly controversies? Remember the "monkeys" and the "weeds"? IPL will change all that. Ricky Ponting of the Kolkata Knight Riders comes running down the pitch, for a high five with the very Ishaant Sharma when a wicket is taken. Laxman consulting Symonds or Dravid advising Kallis are scenes that speak for the victory of cricket over narrow nationalist views. The day may not be far when the Indian from Hyderabad will think twice before supporting Harbhajan (who happens to play for Mumbai Indians) when an on field row sparks off between Harbhajan and Symonds again.

It’s a global village. The IPL is the only format that can take the game above the nationalist feelings. In the end, it’s the Victory for Cricket.

Thursday, April 17, 2008

I'm Loving It


2 days ago on April 15th 2008, Mc Donald's celebrated its 53rd birthday. Mc Donald's chain of restaurants popularly known as
Mc Ds has come a long way, establishing itself as a symbolic icon of the world being a global village, a pioneer of innovative contemporary business models and more importantly than all, one stop place all over the world for a quick quality meal.
I recall my first visit to a Mc Donald's in Gurgaon in 2003, what appealed to me then was the clean shining tables, large play ground like eating areas, and a very quick friendly service across the counter. That visit has led to several others in more than 50 cities and across 5 countries and all I would say about a Mc Donald's is " I'm Loving it".
Being the world's largest chain of fast food restaurants, feeding nearly 54 million hungry stomachs daily does not mean that the journey for Mc Donald hasn't been without hurdles. Among the critiques are allegations that McDonald's uses its political influence to increase their own profits at the expense of people's health and the social conditions of its workers. In 2002,(Exactly one year before my first visit!) vegetarian groups, largely Indians successfully sued McDonald's for misrepresenting their French fries as vegetarian. Even after the discontinuation of frying the French fries in beef tallow in 1990, the French fries still had beef extract added to them. (For the benefit of my vegetarian readers in the U.S.: it is believed that the French fries sold by Mc D in the U.S. still contain beef and animal flavoring).
With all that, I am not surprised at the reaction of many Mc D fans across the world "I'm Loving it". I was in Chennai with this engineer from the U.S. who was on his first visit to India, telling me that , after a hard day's work the only restaurant he could confidently walk into in India, (without experiencing a cultural difference) and order what he was sure he would like was a Mc Donald's. On my first visit to Dhaka, Bangladesh, I realised being a vegetarian was not an easy thing at all. With a very strong language barrier (English is a very tough option for many Bangladeshies!) and with a strong tendency to serve anything far from vegetarian in every restaurant, I was almost left with very little option than to live on plantains and biscuits. But only until, I discovered this Mc D across the street. Lesson 1: If you are a vegetarian and in Bangladesh, rush to a Mc D.
Malaysia is not such a difficult option in terms of being a vegetarian. I walked into this Mc D in KL, and asked them if they served any vegetarian burgers. This smart gentleman across the counter (very typical of Mc D to have smart men across counters!!) said "Yes", and pointed towards the 'Mc Menu chart" at a Vegetarian Burger with Sauce. Innocently, I ordered it and took the tray to my table. Before I could eat a bite, I saw the smart gentleman rushing towards me. "Are you a Hindu brahmin?" was his question. Although I was shocked by this sudden question regarding my religious belief from an individual (who by my guess was a Philippine!), I was more than relieved when he explained how he had read about Hindu Brahmins not eating fish, and that the "sauce" in my burger may have traces of fish flavour and had rushed to me so that I was well informed before I eat it. When I admitted to him that I was a "Hindu Brahmin" after all, he was more than apologetic. He offered to give me a pure vegetarian burger free of cost.(without the sauce of course!) Now that is what I call customer centric service. I might have never realised a trace of fish in a sauce. He needn't have told me at all! But then, that's Mc D for you.
It is very difficult to find a vegetarian burger in the Mc Ds in Finland. It was late in the night and I was hungry so I decided to give it a try. The guy in the counter apologised to me that he didn't have anything purely vegetarian. I asked him if he could go "outside the box" and think of a way to feed my hungry tummy. True to the Mc D tradition, he came up with a solution right away. "I can offer you the Beef Burger" he said "But without the Beef!!" Now this special variant of Mc D burger is purely vegetarian, and has only a vegetable patty and some greens without any beef!! Every time I am in Finland or Germany I know what to order in Mc D , A beef burger without beef!!
Many people also feel that Mc Donald's eating is not a healthy way to eat. Often Mc'D is also a butt of office room jokes. I had this Italian friend who thought that he would go starving for a year if necessary but wont eat any junk food at Mc D. Well unhealthy or healthy, I just have one thing to say. I'm loving it.

Monday, April 14, 2008

The Zephyr turns into a Tornado

In an earlier post, the future of Zimbabwe had been suggested as a gentle breeze of hope, (Read: Krishna Prashanth: A Zephyr in Zimbabwe) with Morgan Tsvangirai of the MDC gaining a majority over Mr.Mugabe of Zanu PF by capturing 50.3% of the total vote. But with the Zanu PF denying these results and the official results still waiting to be announced, the situation has turned rather shameful with violence and treachery mocking at the very meaning of democracy in Zimbabwe.
In the latest development a High Court appeal by the MDC requesting the immediate release of the electoral results, has been turned down. MDC lawyer Andrew Makoni said it was a "sad day in Zimbabwe". The judge said the results could not be published until reports of anomalies in some seats had been investigated. The opposition (MDC) said violence was escalating ahead of a possible run-off vote and that one of its supporters had been killed by Zanu-PF militia. All this even as MDC leader Morgan Tsvangirai continues to say that he defeated President Robert Mugabe. But electoral officials have ordered a recount in a number of seats.
It is believed that in the earlier elections in 2002, Mr. Mugabe had manipulated numbers to convert the situation into a run off vote and managed to retain his position as the President of Zimbabwe for 28 long years. The 2008 election story seems to be taking a similar turn.
BBC reports the same as a case of " Democracy Gone Wrong"
"The electoral commission says the recount of presidential and parliamentary results in 23 constituencies will start on Saturday. Zanu-PF requested a recount in 22 constituencies, while an MDC application for a recount in one seat has also been granted. The contents of Zimbabwe's ballot boxes are still a matter of dispute.The parliamentary election saw Zanu-PF lose its majority for the first time in Mr Mugabe's 28-year rule. But the majority could be recovered if the ruling party is awarded just nine of the 23 seats subject to a recount. The speaker of the South African parliament, Baleka Mbete, has denounced the failure to publish the results of the presidential election as a case of "democracy gone wrong".
The citizens of Zimbabwe after having suffered a sky rocketing inflation of 100,000 %, are still waiting for the friendly zephyr of hope.

Sunday, April 13, 2008

BMW and its April Fool's day Ads

Going through the April Fool's day stuff on the internet, hit upon some very interesting ads posted by leading qualtiy Car manufacturer BMW. Quite some thing to laugh oneself on...

Hit yourself on the links for these funny Ads.
1. IDS ("Insect Deflector Screen") Technology - using elastic solutions to bounce insects off the windscreen as you drive,
2.SHEF ("Satellite Hypersensitive Electromagnetic Foodration") Technology, which sees the car's GPS systems synchronise with home appliances to perfectly cook a meal for the instant you return home.
3.Marque-Wiper - mini-wipers for each exterior "BMW" logo coming as standard on all future models,
4."Uninventing the wheel" to counter the "EU ban" on right-hand drive cars.
5.Zoom Impression Pixels ("ZIP") to counter new Slow Cameras.
6.Canine Repellent Alloy Protection - a means of discouraging dogs from urinating on car wheels. (2008)

The Rebels will be the new Rulers

After a disturbing history of threats, extortion and killings since 1993, after having taken away more than 10,000 lives in guerrilla killings , today , the Nepalese want to democratically elect these very violent rebels as their rulers. The Maoists are leading the results of the first ever elections in Nepal that will see an end to Monarchy in Nepal.(Read:Krishna Prashanth: Nepal - At the End of Monarchy )
There is still a week's time before the final official election results will be out, but Nepal is surprised to see the trends of victories arising for the Maoists , mainly under the leadership of Prachanda. In the last two years since they laid down their guns, the Maoists have been in and out of the interim coalition government. But in a position of power today the Nepalese people expect they will act responsibly for the good of Nepal.
The India Perspective:
New Delhi is watching the results carefully and It's still wary of how a Maoist-government or a Maoist supported government would behave towards India. Prachanda's comments have never been too kind on India. He may have also not have forgotten how India provided the Nepalese government with military support after King Gyanendra himself came knocking on India's doors to seek help in crushing the Maoist rebellion.
It is also not very clear as to what is the role of the Nepalese Maoists in the Indian Maoist agenda. Although there has been several denials form Prachanda himself regarding the link between the Indian Maoists and the Nepalese Maoists , the government cannot sit and watch. Coming to victory will mean a moral victory for what India has been morally opposing since 1993. Time to take stock of the situation.

Saturday, April 12, 2008

A Useful Blog on the net

As I was 'Blog hunting' for some interesting blogs from Mangalore,( the town I was born and brought up in ) I accidentally stepped upon a very intriguing blog of the Superindent of Police of Dakshin Kannada.

http://spdk.blogspot.com/
Here's the idea.
"This weblog has been created by the Dakshina Kannada Police with the purpose of disseminating police news of the district to those interested. Authentic and official information of DK Police will be posted here regularly. This is just an attempt to create an interface with the press and the public at large. Your views and suggestions are welcome. Superintendent of Police Dakshina Kannada District MANGALORE Karnataka Ph: 0824 2220503 (O) 2220504 (R)"
I find the blog very useful, for both the general public and the Police. It can increase transparency in operations, and find which cases lie in the dusty files of the police for too long!
We can also keep track of the civility record of the town. A beautiful initiative! I would like to know if other cities have such similar Police files on the net.

Venezuela Creating the Multi Polar World

Petrolera IndoVenezolana is the name of the joint venture between Petroleos de Venezuela SA and the ONGC of India that will participate in Oil exploration programmes in the oil rich states of Venezuela. ONGC will own 40% of stake in the venture and Venezuela will have 60%. A major breakthrough for ONGC and its wild oil exploration ideas. Venezuela estimates the partners will produce some 232 million barrels of oil over the next 25 years from San Cristobal field—a 160-sq-km area in Anzoategui and Guarico states.
Venezuela Wednesday came out in support of China on the issue of Tibet, blaming the United States for the recent anti-China protests and dubbing the action as attempts to derail the Beijing Olympic Games."We are with China," Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez declared during an interaction with Indian journalists in Caracas. "We have already said that beyond all this conflict there is a hand of the US. They want to derail Olympic Games.""We ask the world to support the Beijing Olympic Games and to support China. The same way we support India, Africa, Latin America. That is the new world, free and multi polar world," he said.
Venezuela has been working closely with many emerging economies like China and India and downplaying the US after Relations between Venezuela and the US worsened in 2002, when President Chávez alleged the U.S. approved of the 2002 Venezuelan coup d'état attempt.
Being an oil dominated economy, Venezuela will have a strong say in world politics. Venezuela wishes to de-link its economy from that of the US and hence is supporting several trade deals including the oil exploration exercises with ONGC and Reliance in India. Venezuela is playing the catalyst in forming what truly can be called a Multi Polar world.

Home is where the 'HEART' is.

Asia's first ever artificial Heart Transplant was successfully completed under the able observation of surgeons in Narayana Hrudayalaya in Bangalore. This will open up a ray of hope for many patients suffering from heart related disorders in India and neighbouring nations. The surgery included the implantation of a VAD, a ' Ventricular Assist Device' before the heart that will help the heart pump close to 10 Litres of blood every minute.
The key issue however is the exorbitant cost that such advanced surgeries demand of the common patient. This first of its kind surgery that lasts 4 hours could cost the patient anywhere close to USD 85000 (Which in this case Narayana Hrudayalaya waived of, in a noble gesture). The prohibitive cost can prevent advanced technologies from saving valuable lives in times of distress.

Friday, April 11, 2008

A Lesson from China

Mr. Chidambaram and the CoS for price of commodities are still trying to fix the cause of the explosion in the WPI inflation which has touched its highest levels in the last three years. International price hike has been the culprit so long.
The international rise in prices of commodities is a contributor I agree. But don't we realise the the root cause is a simple supply - demand imbalance. Is it not the real truth that we have a serious imbalance of domestic supply of commodities? Is it not worrisome that after 60 years of independence and with dreams of being a superpower, we have still not done away with blaming the rain gods for crop failures?
Just to take a leaf out of China's story, which seems extremely buoyant and confident when the rest of the world is worried about the rice price hike, I present here an excerpt of what the Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao says. (Read :Who is afraid of rice price rise, asks China )
“Please set your mind at rest because China has abundant supply of rice.....(Yes,) the recent 30 per cent jump in international rice prices did have an impact on China’s food prices but the country is largely self-dependent for rice. ...The volume of rice traded on the world markets is less than a tenth of that in the Chinese market. The central government has taken a series of measures to promote agricultural production such as raising farm subsidies, constructing irrigation works, and popularising the use of science and technology. China is capable of feeding itself with its own rice production.”
India sure has a lesson to learn here from its closest rival. Only a domestic abundance of supply can be a permanent solution to inflation. We sure should start working towards this long term goal.