Tuesday, April 29, 2008
Sunday, April 27, 2008
“Check-in 5 minutes/Boarding flight 10 minutes/Take-off 15 minutes/Flying time 1 Hour/To reach airport 3 hours”!
Thursday, April 24, 2008
Wednesday, April 23, 2008
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
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
Monday, April 14, 2008
Sunday, April 13, 2008
Saturday, April 12, 2008
Friday, April 11, 2008
As the Nepali people vote in this critical election, there are several questions in their minds. Will the new government be able pull the country out of the spiral of violence and political turmoils that have become characteristic of Nepal in the recent times? Can the Maoists or the King and his son accept the new constitution gracefully? How will this Himalayan kingdom re-invent itself as a Federal Republic?
Nepal probably finds itself historically in the ranks of being the oldest of civilizations in the world. With historical references dating back to 9000 years, Nepal has been the cradle for the Hindu culture and caste system and has been in references in the oldest epics including the Ramayana. This election will be watched not just by the Nepalese, but by all Hindus living all over the world.
Thursday, April 10, 2008
I know you are sad
I can see the light hidden
And the smile you once had
You sit across the table
But I don’t speak a word
There’s nothing I can say
Nothing you want heard
I understand your silence
I understand your pain
But you know I can’t help you
Or even try in vain
Homes just look like houses
Music sounds like "sounds"
Paintings look like pixels
Masses feel in pounds
I know you are an orphan
But you are not the only one
It’s a sea of lone faces
It still shines under the sun.
Wednesday, April 9, 2008
Monday, April 7, 2008
If the protestors are using the Olympics to draw the attention of the world towards the atrocities and human rights violation executed by China in Tibet, so be it. However, it is important that they do so without destroying the traditional spirit for which Olympics stands for.
If on the other hand, the protestors want to proclaim that China cannot host the Olympics because they are perpetuators of human rights violation, then I would like to kindly remind the protestors that "Human Rights" is such a largely contextual issue, that in one form or the other most countries in the world perpetuate it in some degree or the other. I would like to point out that by that argument if China cannot host the Olympics, nobody (probably) can!!
I wish to present just for representation a glance into the Human Rights Violation cases perpetuated in the host nations of the Olympics in the past 30 years.
2004 Olympics, Athens Greece
Human rights nongovernmental organizations (NGOs) have repeatedly alleged that illegal immigrants and refugees are subjected to violence by border guards and coast guard officers when caught entering Greece illegally. Police beat up civilians in Pyrgos, Peloponnese during a routine identity check. The local police director ordered an inquiry; however, no results had been released by year's end.
2000 Olympics, Sydney Australia
Since 1990 the UNHRC has heard almost fifty complaints against Australia. Many Australians find it embarrassing or outrageous that a foreign tribunal can sit in judgment of Australia. Read the summaries at http://www.nswccl.org.au/issues/hr_violations.php
1996 Olympics, Atlanta Georgia USA
Remember Iraq, and the Weapons of Mass Destruction? Remember Afghanistan? Remeber Veitnam? Well, here is a list of violation of Human Rights by USA. http://www.twnside.org.sg/title/1893-cn.htm
1992 Olympics, Barcelona Spain
Societal Abuses and Discrimination in Spain have become commonplace. Muslims continue to experience some societal prejudice. The Spanish Federation of Islamic Religious Entities (FEERI) and the Union of Islamic Communities in Spain (UCIDE) criticized what they called an increase in Islamophobia. Read more at http://www.state.gov/g/drl/rls/hrrpt/2006/78840.htm.
1988 Olympics, Seoul South Korea
Violence against women is a problem in South Korea. In a single year 3,914 cases of rape are reported. Many cases go unheard of.
1984 Olympics Los Angeles, California, USA
Read account on USA above.
1980 Olympics Moscow Soviet Union
Read this shocking account "The citizens of Russia are practically deprived of appeal to Justice, for in most cases the matter of launching, refusal or suspension of criminal case is in militia or procuracy jurisdiction. Eventually, the rights of victim are not protected. He (his lawyer) is not able to get information regarding case investigation; he can not lodge an appeal to the court against investigators’ decision on halting the investigation or its suspension. Practically, in this situation a victim has the only one possibility - to lodge complaint to procuracy higher authorities. Therefore, there is the urgent necessity to carry out the judicial reform in respect of extending the rights of victim - judicial supervision over investigation, and granting person the right to bring in suit on criminal case to the court directly by himself."
1976 Olympics, Montreal Canada
Another shocking account. "The human rights dossier of Canada's boss, namely the US and West, in the region is not defensible. The US secret prisons across the world and its barbaric tortures at Abu Ghraib and Guantanamo Bay prisons leave no ground for defending the human rights claims by the West. " (Read full article: http://payvand.com/news/06/nov/1285.html)
I could go on. But I think I got my message across. The idea of extinguishing the Olympic torch for the Human Rights violations in a host nation may not be a good one. We run the risk of not having any Olympics at all, as the Beijing Olympics sets a bad precedent for the future. Olympic Games stand for universal brotherhood. I am sure we don’t want to kill the spirit.
Sunday, April 6, 2008
The rising inflation which has reached precarious levels, has stirred up a heated debate on what the government should do immediately to reverse the trend of the rising prices. While the government has already tried fiscal measures including reducing import duties, and fixing the minimum selling price on specific commodities, these will help (even if it actually does!) bring down the prices on very specific items. But these micro-measures are not really effective in containing (let alone reversing) the trend of price rise in a macro picture involving various commodities and goods. There is a lot of speculation on whether the intervention of the RBI, through monetary policies like increasing the CRR (and hence interest rates) can really do the trick. These measures will be effective in bringing the price rise down for sure. But they come packaged with two undesirable side effects. One, the rate at which these measures can take effect. It is difficult to expect a price reduction immediately, as it will take at least 6-8 months to show signs of improvement. Two, these come with a heavy price of having to compromise on India's strong growth journey.(read: Krishna Prashanth: The Battle between Inflation and Growth).
In this scenario, the third option (which apparently even the RBI prefers) is to try and achieve a stronger rupee. Looks like the government will have to turn to the 'Stronger Rupee' to try and play the joker to save the situation. An article in Times of India portrays the feeling as it goes on to say this. (Read : Inflation Check: RBI prefers stronger rupee)
"......The central Bank has reduced its market intervention since last one week to buy dollar, when the inflation suddenly spurted...........As inflation had come down to around 4%, the central bank used to buy dollars, to allow rupee to depreciate from a high of Rs 39.50 in February to Rs 40.77 a dollar by March 17. But as soon as the inflation figure was out, RBI reduced market intervention. As RBI reduced purchase of dollar, the US currency started depreciating against rupee. On Monday, as per RBI reference rate, rupee appreciated to 39.97 per dollar. On Tuesday, however, it closed around Rs 40 a dollar. "
If the rupee appreciates, this will have the direct effect that more goods can be purchased with the same strong rupee than it could purchase with a weaker rupee. This will also make exports of commodities less attractive and goods will have to be recirculated into the domestic market, hence increasing supply. This method can have an immediate and effective reaction on the prices to the consumer. In the given scenario, this seems to be the best way to tackle the situation.
The first people to cry foul will be the export oriented industries, especially the IT sector which depend largely on the weakness of the rupee. A stronger rupee might actually hit business for many in this sector. But then again everybody cannot be made happy. Looks like a small price to pay for the large reward of reducing rising prices and saving the common man.
Saturday, April 5, 2008
The grim situation has further compounded with the onset of a untimely monsoon in North India and destroying further crops. With global food reserves running low and a heavy shortfall of supplies for domestic use, the situation could hit the consumer rather seriously. The committee of secretaries on prices is scheduled to meet on April 9th to review the situation. The long term objective will surely be to achieve self sufficiency through increased domestic production (read :Krishna Prashanth: In search of our Daily Bread) With just four days to go before the meeting of the committee of secretaries on prices, it is necessary to analyze the options that we have in hand to stop prices from hitting the roof. After the government has tried its instruments to battle the inflation (like minimum export price on food grains, or total ban altogether) the RBI could be the savior to pull the economy out of this inflation
RBI has mainly three weapons in its arsenal to contain inflation.
a) Increase the CRR /SLR
This mainly constitute of Cash to Reserve Ratio (CRR) and Statutory Liquidity ratio (SLR). CRR is the portion of deposits (as cash) which banks have to keep/maintain with the RBI. This serves two purposes: firstly, it ensures that a portion of bank deposits is totally risk-free and secondly it enables that RBI control liquidity in the system, and thereby, inflation. This is very likely to happen in the current case, especially since this is the most effective inflation control but then again liquidity in RBI coffers means adverse effect on growth! The RBI should play this carefully.
b) Increase the discount rate
This is the rate at which the RBI makes very short term loans to banks. Banks borrow from the RBI to meet any shortfall in their reserves. An increase in the discount rate means the RBI wants to slow the pace of growth to reduce inflation. In our current case this can lead to seriously affecting businesses that depend on short term loans from banks. This can seriously affect the booming market condition.
c) Increase in the Repo rate
It is the rate at which the RBI borrows short term money from the market. After economic reforms RBI started borrowing at market prevailing rates. So it makes more sense to banks to lend money to RBI at competitive rate with no risk at all. A higher repo rate will encourage banks to lend more to the RBI coffers, thus improving the liquidity to contain inflation.
Now these methods are effective, but at the cost of the ever so desired "growth". Its like having to choose between the lesser of the two devils namely "inflation" and "reduced growth". And in situations like the current scenario, makes sense to choose to slacken growth if we can win the battle over the spiraling inflation.
Friday, April 4, 2008
Most cases the River Rows have been a result of one user of a river (may be a Dam constructor, or a Hydro Plant contractor- especially if funded by the other state government) decides to use the river and not compensate the other users (especially the weak farmers!).This way the question of “who the river belongs to?” starts arising. A question which we seem to have learnt to settle only by burning buses and beating people. Here I am suggesting a solution by introducing a concept of River stake ownership.
We could call a campaign for people, farmers, institutions and companies to register themselves as authorized River users. These entities would be awarded a River User Card if they register. They would have to pay to the Central Government a certain basic registration fee depending on the kind of usage they expect to use the river for. Most importantly depending on the length of a river and the number of tributaries feeding the river, a certain fixed number of River Users only will be allocated usership. The allocation will be on the basis of the highest bidder above basic registration fee.
For example an individual farmer expecting to use the river to feed his one acre farm could pay (maybe)Rs 20,000 to the government and buy his usership for the river. Similarly an Industry willing to start a Hydro Power Plant could pay an equivalent value (maybe) Rs 50,00,000. This way we would have created a value based set of stake holders who will want to use the river. The stake of any entity on the river will be proportional to the value he has invested. A small river stock exchange should be opened where people can trade their River User status , with other people who don’t currently own the status.
Let’s take a case where a farmer, in spite of all his efforts fails to make any headway and is unable to produce enough grain. The solution is simple; he will sell his River user Status for the highest bidder, and repay his debts. These way inefficient farmers need not commit suicide and can still make money. This will ensure that the usership remains with people who can efficiently use the river.
Let’s take the case of a state government willing to construct a dam across the river. It can do so if it wishes to, but before that it should own sufficient stake in the river. It should first buy out enough stake by paying a hefty sum to other River Users, so that it can then go on to have the construction done. The farmers in either state feeling that they don’t want the dam and that it will affect their livelihood can hike the price of their usership. To buy the farmer out the state government will have to automatically pay him enough to compensate the damage that the dam will incur on him. So, the farmer is happy that he made some money in the deal, the government is happy that it got o build the dam. We need not burn cinema houses to solve this issue!!
I am not suggesting that this solution is fool proof or that it has the best features. The idea can be improved upon. The only important thing to realize is that we should treat the River Rows in a more objective way, and allow market forces to do the talking and NOT cinema actors!
when you are standing alone in one place
Not a soul nor seafish or angel no satan
no creature will show you its face
not a sound shall be spoken from the darkness around
no flicker of a flame or a spark will be found.
no pats on your back
no claps in the air
no crowns in your temples be worn
no cries of hurray
no carpets your way
no garlands your neck shall adorn
And then, dear friend
if you can still be the YOU
you'll make it through the life's test
cos' you're one of a chosen few.
is that scene in my eyes,
that night on the cold ocean
under the starry skies.
The sea was still
and the wind was slow,
the musicians, on the ship
had put up a show.
And then,the storm it broke
and tore away the mast
nothing aboard could be saved
cos the ship was sinking fast.
the captain had the lifeboat lowered
the people made it, if they could
But the Musicians of manali
remained playing where they stood
When the boats bade goodbye,
And the people were all gone,
Sweet music filled the tragic night
'Cos the show had to go on!
Thursday, April 3, 2008
He established the MDC in 1999 as a party opposed to what it called "misrule, official corruption, and dictatorship" in Zimbabwe. He lost to Mr Mugabe in the 2002 presidential election which Western and opposition observers accused Zanu-PF of rigging. The elections in march also carried the same reputation with talks about ghost voting and rigging doing the rounds.
Tuesday, April 1, 2008
A little after check in, I happened to spot in the security queue, a man known for his mature sense of sport, an icon of today's world, and for bangaloreans the God himself. I spotted Anil Kumble. Wearing a neatly ironed blue Sahara T-shirt and the characteristic Kumble smile, carrying an old English classic novel clasped in his right palm, Kumble stood in the queue quietly waiting for his turn in the security check. He was soon accompanied by his bowling coach Venkatesh Prasad and the two exchanged a quiet joke and after some chit chat (which I imagined to be probably about the dinner they had with their families last night!) they went back into the silent dignity of waiting for their turn to get frisked by some security personnel before they entered their flight. Which flight I wondered!
I suddenly remembered the ongoing cricket test series between India and South Africa. The second test supposed to happen in Ahmedabad. Were Kumble and Prasad traveling to Ahmedabad? I wondered, if they would be on my flight? For a moment I dismissed the thought. The great Anil Kumble in a low cost airline? The Captain of the Great Indian cricket team in a low cost airline? No way!!
Some ladies in their thirties came rushing with their pens and notebooks, and Anil Kumble started signing. Some old bald man wanted Kumble to sign on his son's T shirt and a few girls wanted to have a snap of their favorite hero. One girl was so engaged in chatting with Kumble that she ended up in the gent’s security queue! But Kumble flashed a smile and reminded her, that she has to take the other queue for the Ladies security check. With a frown and probably a heavy heart, she conceded.
I lost sight of Kumble after some time, as I sat with my colleague in the waiting area before I had to board my flight. I saw an old woman probably on her own carrying a heavy bag. She looked nervous, (probably her first flight!) and appeared too confused on her own and too dignified to ask for help. I dismissed it away as I got a phone call.
As I got on to the aerobridge 5 to board my low cost airline, I heard voices that I have heard only on TV. Anil Kumble was right behind me speaking in low volume but unmistakably fluent Kannada, on his cell phone. As our eyes met he smiled. I forced out a "Hello" not sounding too nervous and pretending as if talking to Anil Kumble was something I did everyday. He responded saying "Hi,” and then looking at my chest he said "Nice tie." I looked at my tie, and for the first time thought about the various uses of a tie, including attracting cricket captains towards me. I frankly did not know how to respond. ”Oh yes!" I finally said. I can’t believe I could not think of anything more meaningful to say. "Oh yes????" even a "Thank you very much” would have been suitable. But no, I said "Oh yes" as if I took credit for the beauty of my tie, as if I manufactured or dyed the tie myself. Just as I was about to say something to compensate, my phone rang.
As I was seated in my flight, I saw Kumble again two seats ahead of me, helping the old confused woman to keep her luggage in the cabin. Here he is, I thought, the captain of the Indian Cricket team, the negotiator of the row in Australia, the man with a road cross named after him, the man with the record of having taken 10 wickets in an innings, sitting with me in a low cost airline, helping an old lady that needed help.
All throughout the flight, I couldn’t help wondering what made great people great. Passion for their profession was the only thing that I had thought of before. But on seeing Kumble I realized what made great people Godlike figures. The aura that he carried with him, of simplicity and approachability. The aura of being a great human being. While on air, people were constantly rushing to his seat and getting him to sign on their boarding pass, their T shirts, and books. Photographs were shot, images were saved. People were happy. Kumble was there smiling at each person with a warmth and never refusing a fan. He loved playing for India, but more importantly I knew why India loved him.
I don't think I will ever crib about traveling in a low cost airline again. I did not get Kumble's autograph or a photo shot along with him by my side. But the flight to Ahmedabad had taught me something about the difference between being good and being great. While the former is in what we do, the latter about the warmth with which we do it!!