Wednesday, December 28, 2005

sweet nothings


It is holiday season, it is winter, it is the time for a new year to be born - it is time for a little romance.

It never ceases to amaze people what is that lovers talk so much. The endless talks in person, the hours of non stop romance over phone, the hushed whispers, the ding ding messengers, the alerts of SMS flirt messages - of course it must be puzzling a bunch of people (who haven't met the right one yet) on what could be there so much to talk ? For Godssake, even China and United States do not have so much to talk on bilateral agreements.
What would be even more puzzling is the fact that 2 people who have been "identified" as the right "the one" for each other with the help of matrimonial bureaus and blessings of the elders also have so much to talk pretty much right away ! They were strangers to each other less than 24 hours ago and all of a sudden they have so much to talk and so much to share !! The movie Azhagan had the wonderful picturisation of lovers-talk scenario with a typical KB touch in the song Sangeetha swarangal..

So what do the lovers talk ? Even if one were to give a minute by minute autobiographical sketch to one another, it can take only so much time. And it cant be that interesting to talk about for hours & days anyway. Movies, perhaps ? But that becomes a repetition soon enough. Tastes, likes, dislikes ? Well, that would actually end in a single post in a blog. About friends, rumors, gossips ? One needs to spend time to collect these information - if he/she is always on phone & Yahoo all the time, where can he/she get the time to collect these information ? Unless one keeps talking the same stuff over and over again to the other, like the never ending TBS repeats of the sitcoms, Iam running out of potential topics that can be talked about!

The surprising thing is that while we in this post already got tired trying to figure out what are the topics that the lovers talk about so much, the courting couple never seem to get tired after hours and hours of chats for days and weeks. They always show the same enthusiasm to meet, to speak; their faces glow the same way when the cell beeps like it did the first time. And they spend the same time and even more during every call.

And yet, after all those hours, if one were to ask the lover boy or girl what he/she talked, seldom is it remembered. The best answer that you can get is a smile (with a blush). And a complaint that there isn't enough time to talk and/or there are always intrusions (realize that they are referring to you!). Of course, this long hours of love-talk is called sweet nothings for every correct reason.

And so my friends who have found your right one, continue your non stop yapping. And my other friends, who are puzzled by this unending blah blah & blah, just wait until you meet the right one to start your quota of payment to the mobile companies.

Who knows, maybe if people & governments talked to each other more like this, there will be more love in the air and the world may not necessarily face some of the problems that are existent now !

Happy New Year, Happy Holidays and happy romancing.


Monday, December 19, 2005

alonso joins mercedes


Thanks to all for a very lively discussion on the previous post. Iam sorry for my lack of responses up there, but will definitely follow your comments with a continuation post shortly.

Meanwhile Iam here just to update the recent events in the best of motorsport - Formula One. World Champion Fernando Alonso is moving to Vodafone McLaren Mercedez racing from the 2007 season. This means the ouster of either Juan Pablo Montoya or Kimi Raikkonen from the Mercedes team at the end of 2006. The answer as of now is apparent that Raikkonen would most likely move over to Ferrari-Marlboro team, replacing the all time world champion Michael Schumacher.

Alonso's move will definitely put Renault to a backseat, this only adding to their woe of tyre king Michelin deciding to withdraw out of Formula One at the end of 2006 season. With the Concorde agreement coming to a close we are in for very interesting times ! This is the current prediction of the 2007 lineup of the top teams.

Renault - Giancarlo Fisichella & Heiki Kovalainen
Ferrari-Marlboro - Kimi Raikkonen & Felippe Massa
Vodafone McLaren-Mercedes - Fernando Alonso & Juan Pablo Montoya

This year Iam still confused between cheering for McLaren & Renault. In any case I will continue to cheer for Michelin.


Saturday, December 03, 2005

aa ab laut chalen ?


Let me state upfront. This is not some quarter-life or mid-life crisis situation. This is neither a "rude awakening" nor a "Eureka" scenario. And it is definitely not a gyan that is obtained from sitting under the bodhi tree. It is a as-usual rambling from Siva after a small break.

Many of us have migrated from the east, travelling far and wide into the west, moving to UK, Europe and the North America - even Australia and Singapore for greener pastures. We have claimed that we are moving towards more oppurtunities, better lifestyles, fasttrack careers, challenging work, growth & needless to say more money. Our predecessors and our generation have used one or more of the above reaons in different combinations packing them into justifying euphimisms convincing others and actually themselves for leaving home behind.

But look at the situation now. East is where all the action is. India is the most happening place. With the IT and BPO domination, India is now undergoing a rapid transformation from the "land of snake charmers" to that of a "land of intelligent workers". Several countries are fighting for associating themselves with India. Of course, there may be miles to go before one can compare west and India in various parameters - however this is the time when the foundation is being laid and everything is happening..

Look at the advent of MNCs into India. IT, Electronics, Auto, Banking are already firmly committed. As a result of this growth, the lifestyles of urban towns have fully transformed. The real estates are booming. People afford to buy & use hi-tech gadgets more commonly. It is hard to spot a middle-class home without cellphones, motorcycles, small cars - when only 15 years back it was reason enough to celebrate the purchase of a color TV. Audi sells over 100 cars in India and Porsche wants to capture a segment of Indian market !! The nation is flying high.

The chinese always said "May you live in interesting times!". My question is, are we missing out all this action and fun by being away from home during these 'interesting' times ? Are we missing the oppurtunity of participating and contributing to this transformation in our quest for self growth ? Are we not cheating ourselves by not letting all our energy put to constructive use during this wonderful renaissance happening at home ? Isnt this the dream that we have been wanting to come true for long ? Didnt we come to these developed nations chasing this dream ? Shouldnt we be back home now, partaking in this adventure.. Atleast if not to provide our services, shouldnt we atleast enjoy this metamorphosis ?

Is it time for prodigal sons to return home ?

I dont know. I tried to answer these questions. Of course a hundred thousand justifications on what I am doing and why I am where Iam hit my mind instantaenously, but I ve come to realize that there are always justifications to all questions.

And then there will be answers.


Thursday, November 17, 2005

reservations on reservations


About a couple of months back the topic of 33% reservation for women in the Parliament & Legislative assemblies of India was discussed in this blog. This post is about reservations again, this time on the reservations in the education sector.

India is one of the fastest developing nations inspite of some of its stupid politicians who still live by the old-school theories and are a pain in the neck more than anything else. And in such a fast growing economy of such a huge size, education is a key to success and the accelerator to growth. India had its own share of educational growth producing mass pool of talent in various sectors every year.

India has some of the best schools in Asia and recognized ones in the World. The IITs, IIMs, several NITs, BITS, XLRI, Guindy Engg College, ISB, CMC, JIPMER, AIMS are all examples of popular schools recognized far & wide. They are renowned for the quality of education, class of teachers, availability of facilities and standards of the students who graduate from there. In addition to these schools, there are thousands of educational institutions who generate graduates ready to work in various sectors that have a labor demand. There are years of studies, exams etc., taken into account to select the best & talented into these institutions.

Then comes in Reservation. I understand the necessity of reservation. After decades of suppression, oppression, economic deprivation, one cannot expect a student from the downtrodden castes to compete equally with the rest. He/she needs a headstart and reservation is precisely given to accommodate that. However, as with any other social upliftment program, the politicians of India and the cunning selfish caste leaders have successfully manipulated the reservations program to their advantage.

To start with, the whole concept of reservation based on caste still continuing is mind boggling. Sixty years earlier, it may have been tough to identify economically downtrodden and it made sense to give some of these 'rewards' and upliftment programs based on caste. But in this 21st century, continuation of this idea seems absurd. Furthermore, minority religious educational institutions who claim to the government that they should not be forced to implement the reservation policies also claim that there must be a 5% reservation for minority religions in institutions.

The caste leaders are the most complicated ones. On one side, all the so called 'Dalit' leaders yell on the top of their voices that the caste differences need to be done away with; on the other side, they also scream and wreck havoc asking for reservation in education, jobs & what not..

  • First of all, not all castes within the "scheduled" castes are same.. Many of them are rich, affluent, govern towns and villages. Same is the case of OBCs. One doesnt need to be a rocket scientist to figure out that the leaders only claim for reservation is to keep the nation divided and coin the profits.
  • Second, if the educational institutions already have reservations, why are there reservations in the job/industry sector too ?
  • Third, have we ever looked back to see what is the benefit to the poor man & downtrodden society in general because of the reservation implementation ? One cannot celebrate that just the fact we had a Dalit President of India has proved the reservation has worked well. Without doing necessary retrospection, how can we just go on and on with a scheme just because it gains popular discussions during every state elections.
  • Fourth, If reservations were so necessary still, why not the government and affluent caste leaders build world class institutions, provide reservations in those institutions and leave the rest to open competition ?

There will be thousands of debates to the above and other such questions, but there can never be answers.

It is just clear from the current setup that the concept of reservation is just to keep the caste leaders happy and enable them to secure their vote bank. There maybe a fraction of percentage of people who benefit this system , but it ends there. The rest is all manipulated and the downtrodden society transformation & egalitarian society formation that Dr. Ambedkar had envisioned isnt happening. Worse, because of this undue reservations, the talent pool is depleting within the nation with greater amount of dissatisfaction and loss of trust over the motherland.

As long as the caste divide is used as a 'reward' to allocate seats in top notch institutions, a healthy society can never be formed. It is time that sensible leaders bite the bullet and initiate the attempt to change some of these policies that have been taken for granted. This nation can progress only by unity and not by caste divides.

While these are topics are that are taboo, that become political controversies and touch sentiments of people and sometimes it may be better remain untouched, the truth cannot be hidden. And the truth in this case is that all this reservation system does is to deepen the divide within the society. Decades later, people will stop blaming Hindu society as the reason for casteism and will realize that it is this reservation that has harbored this casteism happily.


(PS: Bubbled this post up for discussions)

Monday, November 14, 2005

blog in blogger


Blogger thinks BLOG is a wrong spelling :)


Sunday, October 30, 2005



We live in a democratic world where the fourth estate enjoys unlimited freedom. In many cases, it is the press that decides key events of the state. And without the media we wouldnt be where we are today.

However, as with all the competition at every place, press is a very very cut-throat competitive world and it is essential for every mediaperson to pull the necessary stunt that grabs audience to his/her story. For a news is a static fact and it is only the time & presentation of the presenter that builds or collapses a network. And to win in this competiton, media resorts to every possible methodology, sometimes going overboard.I got agitated in the morning when I visited the Rediff India Abroad, a really wonderful NRI website that I alongwith millions of others visit regularly. The reason was that the headline blasted Delhi blasts toll is 59,200 injured. For a moment it appeared as if the death toll was actually 59,200. Unable to believe this, I clicked on the main story, where the headline still remained the same. Only then I looked at the cleverly placed comma between 59 and 200 - which was actually stating that the death toll was 59 and the injured numbered to 200. I breathed a sigh of relief that it was not what I had dreaded the numbers to be.

A few minutes later, Raman pinged me and said that he had also mistaken the headline the same way I had. I realized that it was not just me who made the mistake. Rediff could have rephrased the headline in many other ways so that it could have given the clear message. To start with, they could have had a semicolon instead of the comma !! I got super pissed and logged into Rediff and blasted the lousy headline on their comments section - for it was misleading and a stupid attempt to grab attention over a incident that was horrible and killed people. And for all the claim that the press/media makes about freedom of speech and writing, Rediff hasnt published my comment until now.

The press should stop making such lousy and manipulative attention grabbers over incidents that have caused pain and anguish. Rediff is not the isolated one on this of course - each and ever media center from Sun TV to Indian Express to all these American news networks do this dramatization of incidents to climb on their viewership ratings. They should stop making catchy headlines on sensitive incidents that have punctured the lives of hundreds of fellow human beings.

Rediff - unimpressive, unprofessional, bad taste and cheap-publicity.


Saturday, October 22, 2005

gaudy comment by gowda


So Deve Gowda opened his mouth and we saw a typical IT professional reaction from NR Narayana Murthy, Chief Mentor of Infosys.

As I always keep saying Narayana Murthy is the "Gandhi for Indian IT". Coming from a very simple background and a strong belief in socialism, Murthy had built the Indian IT giant Infosys almost entirely on his own skill, acumen and confidence. Inspite of all his success, his "father of Indian IT services" status, multi million dollars locked up in his bank accounts, controlling a staff of over 50,000, meeting heads of state of almost every country in the world - the man still leads a simple life, trying to help the society in whatever way he can - thus being a perfect role model for the IT youngsters who havent found an ideal politician whom they could emulate.

The stories of Murthy's simplicity are popular everywhere. It is said that when his son at college was asked what his father does for a living, he simply replied - "My father's name is Murthy. He works for Infosys.". Infosys and Murthy have taken very good care and precaution not only to do a brand building for the company Infosys, but also image building for the Chairman - Narayana Murthy as well. After all, amongst Tatas, Wipros, Satyams, HCLs who were born with silver spoons already - Murthy was the only man to have risen from the ground.

While Chandrababu Naidu was trying to steer his Titanic in the Indian IT wave late 90s with help of Satyam Computer founders (the Byrrajus), Microsoft and Oracle, erstwhile Chief Minister of Karnataka SM Krishna rode the wave primarily with support from Narayana Murthy. When it was felt that IT customers were moving away from the Indian silicon valley - Bangalore- to other destinations like Hyderabad and Chennai, it was primarily Infosys that stuck it out to try & retain the glory back. SM Krishna did a pretty good job at his state to the satisfaction of Madam Sonia and was promptly rewarded with the governorship of Maharashtra.

To his part, Narayana Murthy, who became the towering personality & a symbol of Indian IT early 2000s, he started representing the country in several sectors where there was a win-win for both the state/nation and IT as well. Narayana Murthy had long crossed the borders of just being the Chairman of Infosys and became the equivalent of Gandhi for Indian IT world. And one such project where his leadership was expected was in the BIAL - the Bangalore Intl Airport Limited.

HD Deve Gowda (and I keep forgetting which party he belongs to every time- I wonder if he remembers) of JD(S) and Dharam Singh formed a opportunistic coalition and been running the state with SM Krishna, who declares himself as the man who saved the Karnataka Congress, butting in as much as he can inspite of his constitutional post. Deve Gowda has been leveling charges against Krishna trying destabilize the Dharam Singh government and the comment against Murthy is one of such attacks.

To his credit, Murthy, a typical IT person, with no taste for government bureaucracies, redtape and having a no-nonsense attitude reacted the same way Gowda expected him to do. Murthy resigned right away blasting Deve Gowda and the Karnataka state govt.
I wish he had asked me personally before going to the press, or talked to you or ascertained it from members of the board. I am disappointed that a former prime minister did not accord me this basic courtesy.

I am pained, more so, that leaders in the government like you did not even clarify my role in the company and the work that has been done. I have spent enormous amount of time and energy in interacting with the government in New Delhi and the government here to make this work. The records prove themselves.

Gowda did not stop here and went on accusing Infosys as a company questioning what values it bought to the state after amassing so much of land in and around Bangalore. Infosys retorted strongly with lots of data on the employment opportunities etc., Dharam Singh persuaded Murthy to stay back at BIAL stating that Murthy was a key person in Indian IT - note that not once has the chief minister complimented any work done in the BIAL by the Infosys chairman. A frustrated Murthy was even more pissed and refused the offer.

Perhaps Murthy does not understand. He is dealing with politicians. And that too politicians like Deve Gowda who survive in this world inspite of being themselves. These are people who play with real people as pawns on the political chessboard. Murthy was just one pawn. How can a pawn gain more power than the queen ? Murthy's personality is so threatening to several parties already that there is a long queue of leaders outside his house to rope him in with one of their parties. In the world of youth, people remember HD Deve Gowda as the man who slept in public meetings on stage and not even as a former prime minister. On the other side Narayana Murthy is being virtually worshipped and is more powerful than several Chief Ministers themselves.

It was just a political attack and not a personal one on Mr.Murthy. When he volunteers himself in this part of the world, he has to stay put. His leaving BIAL will benefit no one. While an angry outburst is not unwarranted or unexpected from him, he cant run away from this. He will face hardships - that is the way these things go - and this man of all is not a man who shuns challenges. India needs volunteers & visionaries like him. Sometimes we have to put up with crap, but so be it - every visionary had to. Deve Gowda and people of his sort have to be ignored. They have lost grounds and are barking with no purpose.

Havent we heard a gazillion times Winners never quit and Quitters never win ?.


Saturday, October 15, 2005

formula one finale


[the discussions surrounding the previous post on IT unions was very enriching and interesting. thanks to all]

Iam writing this just few hours ahead of the final Formula One race of the season at Shanghai, China. The year 2005 has been very exciting filled with wonderful races and good surprises. It also saw some good engines put to test as well as a bunch of rookie drivers who tried to impress this part of the racing world.

While the driver championship is already decided in favor of Fernando Alonso, the young Spaniard - who is now the youngest F1 champion of the word, the constructor championships is in for a great showdown in Shanghai tonight. Renault leads the McLaren-Mercedes by just over 2 points. Though Renault made a suprise 1-2 pole at Shanghai, McLaren is at 3-5 and with the powerful Merc engines, it is almost a certainity that the race will be a very very close one. The Ferrari monopoly of wins has been paused and we can look forward to Ferrari to bounce back in 2006 strongly.

The year began with Renault dominating the initial races and Mercedes proving unreliable several times. Excellent driving instinct, good luck and unreliable McLaren made Alonso the World Champion, inspite of Kimi Raikkonen of McLaren winning 7 championships as opposed to Alonso's 6. This is the second time Kimi has come too close to clinch the driver's championship.. remember the 2 point close a couple of years back ?! We witnessed the terrific San Marino where Alonso held Schumacher at bay for over 13 laps; and the thrilling Suzuka where Kimi came all the way from the last position at start to win the race.

This year also had the disastrous anti-climax at Indianapolis Speedway where 7 Michelin teams pulled out of the race due to unsafe conditions. I had been to watch this 6 car tamasha on the road which showed the only Ferrari win so far. Speaking of Michelin, they have dominated this space by clinching both driver and constructor championships already.

With regards to India, they key episode was the induction of Narain Karthikeyan into the Jordan F1 team. Narain did not do phenomenally well, though he managed to pick up free points at Indy. His teammate and fellow rookie Tiago Montiero made a record 16 continious completions, a feat equalled only by Michael Schumacher (though Schumi finished all in podiums!).

2005 also was a let down for Ferrari, with Schumi winning only one free race and Reubens Barichello deciding to switch sides to Honda a year early. Fellippe Massa will be the No.2 for Schumi at Ferrari in the next season.

This season also had interesting twists in terms of drivers - with Jenson Button finally winning over Frank Williams bid to take him over again. Button will now race alongwith Barichello at Honda. This signals the good bye for Japanese driver Takuma Sato who has had a disastrous season, much to the anger of Japanese fans. Honda has agreed to supply v8 engines to the team that picks Sato to race. We also witnessed the interesting takeover of BMW-Williams, to be called Sauber from now; the selling of BAR shares fully to Honda; the rumor of McLaren giving away their hold fully to Mercedes; the sale of Jordan to Midland. However in my view, the takeover of the season is the purchase of Minardi by Red Bull Racing. RBR is a very successful company in terms of extreme sport investments and it remains to be seen how the 2 team strategy will work out for them in F1.

While Juan Pablo, Fisichella, Klein, Barichello, Massa, Pizzonia had typical seasons, it was a let down by Ralf Schumacher and Jarno Trulli of Panasonic-Toyota Racing who could have done better, atleast in Suzuka, Japan. However Toyota's presence is being felt strongly in any case. Similarly the Williams team had a bad run with Weber finishing over 150 grand prix without a win. Jack Villenvue was as usual unforgiving and had his own tussles with a bunch of racing counterparts, acting almost like a vote-splitter in a election, changing the course of few results.

As I sit biting my nails to see who will hold the constructor-trophy, it feels happy to recount some of the events of the season as 2005 was a terrific year for Formula One. Great drivers, great engines, great races !!! My favorite Alonso, Michelin, Renault had a great season..And as a diehard F1 fan, I couldnt ask for more :)


Blog update: Alonso won the Shanghai GP, with Kimi finishing second, thereby giving my favorite Renault the constructor championships. Splendid driving by Alonso and Kimi.


Monday, October 10, 2005

does IT need unions ?


Blog Update: Article from ET where NASSCOM says BPO doesnt need any unions. Click here

I was interested in this article that appeared in the rediff a few days ago that asked the question whether today's IT industry workers needed a Union to protect their interests, particularly in India. While all anti-leftists can happily yell on big NO NO NO, it might be worth to see the merits and cons of the claim.

IT workers are the cyber-coolies of the day. Many a time we have heard, seen and experienced sitting for hours together in our little cubicles - sometimes days - without sufficient breaks and definitely no overtime pay. Many a time we have seen impersonal HR sneering at our claims for raise with the conviction that there will always be a young talent in the market willing to offer his services at a much lower pay. Many a time we have sat and wondered through the quarterly result publications wondering where the 240% growth and 80% increase in earnings was going to, because it certainly didnt translate into salaries. Many a time we hear of huge MNCs laying off thousands of workers at one shot and wondering when this disease will strike us down. Many a time we have seen efforts going unrewarded, politics playing the key part in growth etc etc.,

So IT is no different from other industry when it comes to labor issues ? So how is it that of all industries, IT, one of the key factors boosting the economic prospects of India, can exist without any labor laws ? Doesnt the question seem genuine ? Is the IT boom and the industry's workforce being exploited by rich capitalists for their own profit ? After all, arent the workers causing this growth, expansion and contributing to the economic success of the nation ?

Let us flip the question. Isnt it a fact that absence of such labor laws, Unions and other bureaucratic processes make the Indian IT industry the most wanted ? Imagine if we end up having strikes every other day in some software company or BPO, why would any foreign investor decide to put his money & investment at risk ?

However the CITU and other big trade union conglomerates are already onto spread their wings over the one million plus IT workers in the nation. There is already a IT professional forum - - that has over 1000 members, which is unofficially, a trade union. Over a period of time these things will gain strength and become full fledged labor unions.

So what next ? After all the progress that we are making and the big strides and successes of the IT industry in India, any notion of trade unions, labor laws spell DISASTER. As we have seen in the past, while there have been genuine reasons why unions have been formed, more often than not, they disrupt normal & smooth functioning of factories and industries causing not only blows to economy but to the laborers as well. Furthermore, unions exist to protect the interests of the lower middle class and average and poor workers who may go hungry if they are shown the door abruptly etc.,

IT workers are more or less taken care well. Infact one could argue that it is IT management that is suffering because of the labor attrition and not the other way around. However it is time that IT/BPO employers wake up. If there are talks of unions etc. going on in this industry, it is because of dissatisfaction that is spreading with the labor workforce. When dissatisfaction is coupled with politics, it is a recipe for a huge mess. Employers have the power to stop this epidemic of trade unions from spreading within the IT industry if only they want to .

Every organization should ensure that the employee-satisfaction rate is always above a certain threshold. They have to control attrition and also protect their workforce. They have to capitalize on the fact that IT workers typically dislike and hate bureaucracy & trade unions - and that when taken care properly there would be no necessity for the labor force to form any unions. Employers have to realize that a dissatisfied workforce leads to Unions/strikes/hartals etc., which spell nothing failure for their organization and the Indian IT industry as well.

Political parties have always exploited the weak minded and dissatisfied working class and channeled their unhappiness to the parties' own benefits. There is still time left in the IT industry to cover itself up against a similar fate.


Sunday, October 02, 2005

strike out the strikes


On September 29, India witnessed another strike organized by the Left which stalled the entire country, almost. While the intent of this post is not to debate for or against the demands that led to the strike, it is to condone the horrendous action called the strike or 'bundh'.

Strike is one of the most inappropriate forms of protest displayed to claim any demand. What good can possibly come when millions of lives just come to a sudden halt one whole day? The whole concept seems lousy. Most of the strikes today are just to promote incompetence and laziness by political parties that have no ideologies or principles anyway.

Yes, people are the real power. And yes, government is of, by & for the people. It is the job of any government to listen to the people and make decisions that affect the lives positively. And in any form of government there will always be shortcomings that one has to face and fight against. No system is perfect. But that doesnt mean that you push a pause button on the whole nation to place demands and attract attention.

While the Marxian philosophy that advocates hartals claims that if workers stop working then the employer stops earning, the principle applies here as well. When workers and government servants stop working the loss is for the employer - which in the case of democracy - is PEOPLE. So it will be the people who will be losers and not anyone else. India being a member of the International Labor Organization (ILO) is forced to permit worker union strikes (because they are so-called best way to express the suffering of workers). And I believe this whole idea that we need to permit strikes because of the ILO membership is simply idiotic. It only provides a loophole which allows a manipulating minority to hold the govt all citizens in ransom.

The father of our nation believed in non-violence and non-cooperation. He advocated silent struggles and protest forms that didnt anyone to take up guns or kill. That was to gain freedom from an oppressor and the whole nation was behind this. Whereas now, it is not the case. When any of these strikes are called, all that happens is breaking down and looting of shops, road-rokos stopping ongoing traffic and in the process killing (,literally,) people who need medical attention etc., disrupting normal lives of normal people who arent connected anyway with the claims of the 'bundh', causing millions of rupees of loss - the Mahatma would most definitely not accept this form of protest.

While India has a vague law preventing organizing these massive rallies that disrupt essential services, it is mostly still a law in paper. My question is, why only essential services ? - any services should not be distrupted. The political parties be it ShivSena or the CPI/M get away after all the mess that they create in form of strikes. What these people do not understand is that by causing this standstill they inflict huge losses and essentially push this nation backward and it causes no good. It is simply mind boggling to think that a minority of these political activists can hold the majority of the law abiding citizens to ransom by calling the 'refusal-to-work'..

Unfortunately in a democracy like a India a stern action is always tough to take. Because a governing party today is an opposition party at some point. And they have to organize such political stunts. The latest strike is even more ironical that it was promoted by the Left against the government of which they are still a part of ! How can the UPA government take action against the CPI/M without risking the possibility of losing the reins of power ?

Strikes, hartals, 'bundhs', , road-rokos have become meaningless in India. It only gives people an additional unwanted holiday and causes loss of millions of person hours of work. India as a nation cannot compete with the countries of Japan and the like irrespective of all the manpower when we are forced into these kind of unwanted and preventable losses. Humanpower is precious. We cant afford to waste it by putting it to doing nothing.

If parties dont realize, governments dont realize this, the people have to. Lets not wait to yell against these theatrics until we lose a loved one because of lack of essential services during a strike. Lets act now. No vote to a party/person that promotes these strikes. No vote to a party/person that cuts trees, breaks bridges, burns buildings/buses, stops trains, halts traffic. We need to strike them out of power.

Let us strike against the strike by not supporting them.

'Cause after all the progress the we make and live in democracy that the world cherishes, if we still end up stalling our lives every now and then because of these strikes, we have none but ourselves to blame.


Tuesday, September 27, 2005

madam president


As with my usual fall plans (no pun here), I was tracking the fall season premiere shows in national networks. We had the new series COMMANDER IN CHIEF air in tonight and it was about how a lady ends up becoming a President of the United States. She is a independent-candidate Vice President and when the current President falls into a no-backing-out ill-health, the reigns of the government falls into the hand of this lady. The speaker and rest of the big bad boys want her out, but she doesnt back off that easily..

While I was watching this, I couldnt help but think, why is a "woman-president" such a big topic here in the United States. There are a gazillion articles out on this subject. Come on, isnt this the real free world ? Isnt this a model democracy ? Isnt this where talent and skill and vision are appreciated, irrespective of who you are ? Isnt this the same country where a person born & brought up in Nazi-Austria or Communist-China end up as Governor ? So what is the big deal with a 'woman-president' ? Africa - yes, but in America ??

On the contrary, a woman head isnt such a big deal in rest of the world, even in the so-called conservative world. There have been women heads of state, prime ministers in India, UK, Haiti, Bermuda, Pakistan, Sri Lanka, Israel, Argentina, Lithuania, New Zealand, Bangladesh and in several other countries, even Rwanda !.. Indira Gandhi, Margaret Thatcher, Srimavo Bhandaranaike, Golda Meir, Chandrika Kumaratunga, Aung San Su-Kyi, Benazir Bhutto, Sheikh Hasina, Corazon Aquino - a sample of very strong women who have run some of the very tough governments of this century - fairly well - and atleast no bad than that of any of their male contemporaries. While women are associated by default with the word 'indecisive', many of these women seem to be otherwise. They have had iron hands.

So why is this such a taboo in the United States ? This is so much a taboo that even when novels, TV series etc., bring this topic, the women ends up becoming a president not by winning an election directly, but because she is the VP when the President has a heart attack. The current Commander in Chief or Jeffrey Archer's memorable The Prodigal Daughter are samples of this. Why this act ? And they should stop this nonsense of having a women-president's husband to be the first-lady-husband or whatever that is. It is hopelessly embarrassing and makes look the White House staff to be a bunch of jokers. If you cant digest a women in the top-post it is okay, but you dont have to mock yourselves acting as if you would accept such a scenario.

Now is the time when we are seeing two very powerful women in the United States possibly set to clash for becoming the leader of the free world. There is the distinct possibility that Hillary Clinton and Condeleezza Rice will hopefully face each other in 2008 or 2012. (campaign sites: Rice for president and Hillary for president)It will be a good to watch show, and maybe, just maybe, the United States will shed its hyprocrisy on this subject for once.

One of the character in the TV series says - "If Moses were a woman leading the slaves from Egypt, she would have stopped and asked for directions and they would have reached Israel by afternoon". The women leaders have indeed impressed us and governed with conviction, atleast most of them. As Jack Nicholson says in "A Few Good Men", 'There is nothing sexier than waking up to a woman you have to salute in the morning. Promote 'em all, that's what I say'.


Wednesday, September 21, 2005

the apparent-tease


I am writing off this post immediately after sitting through a painful sixty minutes of mockery and stupidity with a NBC premiere of a TV series called The Apprentice featuring Martha Stewart. As much as the original version of the same series featuring Donald Trump was moving towards brink of torture, NBC has decided to kill its entire viewership by putting out the Apprentice - Martha Wednesdays this fall..

The Apprentice itself was a very wonderful & novel concept that was pioneered by NBC 2 years back. The first season was very impressive with a 18 week interview to choose an apprentice for the real-estate tycoon Donald Trump. The series stressed about leadership, creativity, risk-taking, innovation, project management & hardwork. While the choice of Trump was still questionable, the selection of candidates, the projects allotted and the evaluation methodology & reasoning impressed many. The second season slowly slipped into a predictable pattern and the third season was hopeless. Similar trials by Sir Richard Branson in the FOX network didnt go as well as that of Apprentice and we all kinda hoped that this will end.

But NBC has changed strategy and put more misery to the viewers by augmenting the original version with its own mockery/satirical version. To start with, the very choice of Martha Stewart as the leader is simply incomprehensible. This is the lady who has spent the entire last year in house arrest sitting in a jumpsuit convicted for lying to interrogators and accused of 'insider trading'. NBC has made a mockery of everyone by projecting Martha as a 'successful leader' in the corporate world and with whom the young energetic minds of the free world want to work with.

The background score is an adaptation from the original and the camera zooms in & out exactly the same way. Another hopeless scene is that of the boardroom. Women just scream in there to increase the theatrics. The agreements were as dispassionate as one could think of and the "advisors" of Martha had absolutely no clue of what they need to do. The old-guy-advisor (Charles) had a cigar in his hand all though which was irritating. He neither lit it or seemed to smoke it.

The best comedy came in when Martha talked about how she 'connected' to customers and how her company was successful. She just didnt seem to know what she was supposed to say or do. It was so lame that it seemed as if the interview was to encourage people to leave / escape from associating themselves with this torture for another few weeks and maybe a year if they got selected eventually. "You dont fit in" is the 'punch' line used here - like that of Trump's famous "You're fired". Martha says that as if she will drop dead after delivering that dialogue. And the other fun was the way she wrote a 'letter' to the guy who was fired first. It was borrowed on the lines of the condolence letter the President writes to the family of war-martyrs. (like in Thirteen Days where JFK writes to family of Capt Rudolph Anderson).

Overall NBC has successfully managed to put up a comical or a MAD-TV version of its own Apprentice with Martha Stewart making a mockery of leadership. The race is on to see which one of the Apprentices generates more boring stuff.

Martha, You simply dont fit in.


Thursday, September 15, 2005

successful breakups


How much ever one can stretch, there are always certain relationships that we just want to get out of - how much ever the opposite side doesn't want us to get away. Exiting out of some of these relationships which we entered by accident is at times very tough and monumental ! And at the end of all the struggle and pain with emotions running high, when one attains closure, it feels like end of a Trojan war. Few even celebrate after these breakups - messy or not.

And I had two such major breakups in the recent past. While one held me under the pretext of my 'commitment', the other didn't let me go in spite of promising that there was no expectation of any commitment.

Before it sounds like a Darren Star's Sex & the City column, let me set the context straight. These relationships were with organizations that just wouldn't let me go- a cellphone company and an online DVD store.

I had to get out of a pre-paid cellphone scheme. In the jazzy "pre-pay & leave-when-you-want" advertisements, they always forget to add "leave-if-you-can". The company unilaterally declared that they would automatically charge me every month on the scheme, which seemed okay until I decided to "leave". I called up to cancel the subscription. It took me just 5-10 minutes and I was almost cheerful with surprise when the agent said "and yeah.. you need to call and cancel the automatic charge every month to avoid further charges..". He said it would take a few minutes only and that was handled by 'another department' and transferred my call. Little did I know that the word 'few' in his language actually translates into 50 agonizing minutes after pressing some 120 buttons to a machine that was blasting one question after another.

When some human came up, she said she had to transfer me to another unit which handles this particular scheme. There went another 50 minutes down the drain. Meanwhile the music interlude was getting horrible and I almost decided to pay every month instead of sitting and going through this torture. I was about to give up when another machine picked up the call and made me punch in few more numbers. After a relatively short wait of 20 minutes a real person came up & I ended the relationship then and there. She asked me "Before you go, I wanted to ask you why do you want to leave?"... and I said "Because I can and want to leave-when-I-want-to"

The story of online DVD store was different. Though they made me wait for only a few minutes much to my happiness, a drama ensued:

Me: I need to cancel my membership.. I ve fulfilled the commitment of this relationship.

CH(the store operator): Well, sir. You have to buy 2 DVDs from us to fulfill the commitment.

Me: I did get 2 of them at regular price already.

CH: Yes you did. But you see, they were bought at $18.95 each. For our commitment count, they need to be bought at $19.25 or higher.

Me: But your website did allow me to count them as commitment

CH: We are sorry for that Sir. But they dont count even if the website allows it. Also we have given you a $15 credit.

Me: You credited $15 in my account ? I didnt see that.

CH: No sir, it means that you can buy a DVD worth of $15 from us when you buy one more at regular full price. But again, you cant use this offer against our commitment.

Me: I dont care. I dont need any credit. And I wont pay a penny more. I need to end this relation NOW.

CH: Well, that is not possible. You still need to honor the commitment.

Me: I hope you know that AOL, based out of Reston, Va just paid $1.25 million in damages for making it difficult for their subscribers to leave.

CH: (after 10 seconds on hold): Ok Sir. We are canceling your membership. Just a last question - why are you leaving us ?

Me: Because you force me to stay with you, thatz why..

And so my friends, I ended two relationships abruptly in spite of the other party wanting me stay - committed or not. Now, how often can I afford to say something like that ? ;)


Sunday, September 11, 2005

bike trails around washington


This has been an awesome sports weekend. Super Saturday with some amazing display of tennis by Agassi, Ginepri, Federer, Hewitt, Pierce and Clijsters. Then was the wonderful Formula One with Kimi and Alonso still continuing their fight for the driver and manufacturer championships at Belgium. And of course, an nailbiting 2 point win of our local team Redskins over the Chicago Bears in the NFL season kickoff...

I also did some good biking over the weekend and I thought I will quickly summarize some of the exciting trails in and around Washington, DC.

The ACCONTIK CREEK TRAIL is located just off the 395/495 junction 20 miles south of Washington, DC. This trail starts from outside Franconia/Springfield metro and goes uptill the Accontik creek along the Fraconia Springfield Parkway. The creek is silent and wonderful and undistrubed with a lovely stream running across. The trail is small and about 5 miles out and back.

The ACCONTIK LAKE TRAIL is a 5 mile loop around the Accontik lake. It is located near the Orange & Alexandria Railroad line. The trail has some steep climbs and gravel path. The lake is located near the Beltway near Braddock Road exit.

The WASHINGTON & OLD DOMINION TRAIL is a 45 mile trail running from Shirlington-Alexandria off 395 to Purceville, 10 miles west of Leesburg. This was originally a Alexandria-Fairfax-Leesburg railroad converted to a biking trail in 1988. You will pass former railroad stations along the way including Bluemont junction, Dunn Loring Station, Vienna station (photo right) etc., At certain places, caboose are placed (photo left) and they add a lovely touch to this trail. The trail is mostly flat and paved. It is full of greenery all the way. The initial 10 miles intersect with local roads and it is better to stop and go. The trail intersects Gallows road and Maple Avenue and the traffic here is heavy. There are not sufficient water fountains however the trail passes through several shops on the way. The trail also is connected with several other trails like Curtis trail, Four Mile Run trail etc.,

The MT.VERNON TRAIL is by far the best trail for beginners in DC area. Starting from near Rosslyn Metro, it is a 19 mile trail to Mt. Vernon - home of George Washington. The trail runs alongwith Potomac river all the way and passes though several points of interest - Ladybird Johnson memorial, Navy memorial, Roosevelt memorial, Gravilly point, Jones point lighthouse, Dyke Marsh, Old Town Alexandria Belle Haven Marina and of course Mt. Vernon. The trail is equipped with several fountains on the way and there are shops (even Starbucks!!) at Old Town. One can get down and wet his feet in the Potomac at certain places. Make sure you carry a camera - the Gravilly point landing zone is a glorius sight. So are the backyard-river of rich old town bungalows and the Jones point. (The photo right is one of the backyards of old town bungalows. People have their kayaks anchored there and use it as if they were getting out and taking a car from their garage. The Wilson bridge is in the background.)

[Thanks to my friends E- for the book on VA trails, Mr & Mrs S- for the hitch and an awesome summer of 2005.]


Wednesday, September 07, 2005

blogger in a coma


Over 14 months of blogging
21 different categories
A total of 195 amazing posts
Somewhere close to 540 comments
Thousands of page views
Hundreds of trackbacks
More than fifteen requests to resume posts
One wonderful blogger

ssshhh.. SILENCE.....

And then all of a sudden the blogger falls into a coma !!! For the past month and more, every time I visit the blog, angry face of Master Yoda stares with a light saber - almost reflecting the angry face of loyalist readers that there isnt a new post out there.

Now, what the hell is a blog ? It is for all reasons, a personal journal. A journal maintained on the web where personal thoughts are recorded and fortunately/unfortunately exposed to public. So who has the right to come and question "why isnt there a update ?". It is the prerogative of the author, for Godssake.. it is his thoughts, his time and his decision..

Is it ?

When people frequent this journal to read, appreciate, digest, understand and debate about various topics, it is not just a journal anymore. It transforms into a column. A column where topics are not simply personal anymore. There is a social obligation to the author to feed his loyal readers with continious thought provoking articles. The author should not claim business, busy-ness, laziness, travel, distractions, boredom, unconsciousness, hibernation, habitual offence, quarter/half-life crises, lack of interest, born-a-leo, coma, even death - just like that - and use any/all of these excuses to stop his flow of words for so long..... No logoffs, shutdowns, hibernates or stand-by!!!... - RESTART the writing.

Even in fiction world, Sir Arthur Conan Doyle had to bring Sherlock Holmes back to life because his readers didnt like the fact that there is no Holmes anymore. Martin Luther said "You are not just responsible for what you say; you are equally responsible for what you do not say".

I believe I have made my point.


Monday, September 05, 2005

symbiosis & peaceful rise


Several of the world nations have responded to the aftermath of deadly Katrina's washout, offering aid to the rescue operations. Australia immediately offered US $7.7m, India responded with a US $5m, Bangladesh offered US $1m, even Sri Lanka, still coping with the Tsunami mess offered a small but still a goodwill amount of US $25K as a relief to the victims - several other nations sending doctors, nurses, medicine etc.,

But one of the most curious offers has come from America's long time adversary - Cuba. The nation led by facist dictator Castro offered to send 1000+ doctors with medicine. When US didnt respond to that offer, Castro increased the number of doctors to 1500+ each carrying about 30lb medicine. America however is yet to respond to the offer. Meanwhile Castro has asked his doctors to take crash course on immunology and spoken English. He has been sensitive to name this resuce squad after Henry Reeve the American who fought in Cuban war of independence against Spain in late 1800s. The other adversary who has offered help is Iran.

What Katrina has proved is that, even the world's most powerful nation is still divided by racism and poverty line; it doesnt have sufficient leadership to cope up with national crises; and most importantly that wars & battles will always be there - but when it comes to humanity, symbiosis is the key to survival.

China has offered US $5m and is ready to send a team of rescue workers. With the anti-China mentality going all time high in Washington, this offer of help and a upcoming Hu Jintao's visit will hopefully change the US mood towards China. Interesting, communist China distanced its Communist policies from that of the 'communist party of Soviet Russia' and is talking everywhere about peaceful rise to anyone who would listen. China has declared once again that it will grow as a superpower on live and let live basis and not depend on war or agression which was what many other nations like Japan, Germany or UK depeneded earlier. (Jintao is trying to retrieve this theory after it had almost died a premature death in late 2004).

Hu Jintao's visit is more businesslike and he is primarily here to advocate the peaceful rise theory in Washington and make the US leaders agree and adapt to the fact that China is emerging as one of the biggest superpowers and economies in the world. Back home, Jintao is also talking of stuff like gender equality, citizen rights etc., inspite of being a communist hardliner himself.

China is heavily lobbying for recogonition within the world community and the Zheng theory of "peaceful rise" is certainly to be welcomed from a otherwise military dictated nation. However it is important for China to realize that the theory is not just for its peer powers like US or UK, but also necessary to honor against some of its own kin like Taiwan or Tibet. One cannot become the incredible HULK with a fractured hand or broken leg.


Sunday, August 28, 2005

use and abuse


Sometimes I get a kick when I see or read about technological advancements back home. One of the latest developments that I read about was how you can book train tickets just by sending SMS messages !! All one needs to do is to tie up with ICICI mobile banking and register one-time with the Indian Railways Catering and Toursim Corporation. No more queueing the reservation complexes from 7:00 AM exactly sixty days ahead to book a single overnight journey ! I dont think such a facility is available here in the US.

India has been making severe advances in the field of consumer communication technologies, particularly cellular and this is one such example. And the railways has been a good pioneer in adopting such innovations - like providing wi-fi in Chennai Central etc.,

On the other hand, we also seem to be making news by exploiting technology on the wrong side. The US visa appointement booking website states that they have made procedural changes because the process was being abused and misused for financial gain.

It is a fact that fradulent acts by a small set of people could adversely impact millions of others and inspite of this knowledge, people seem to go about doing just about anything to get stuff done. And when we know that such crimes are done by educated and well-qualified people and worse - by technologists - people of our breed, it is tough to digest.

Technology provides a comfortable platform to operate. To use or abuse is in our hands. As technologists, dont we carry a professional responsbility ?


Monday, August 22, 2005

election Vs selection - the reservation for women


Reservation - one of the biggest political keywords in post-independent India, this has created and destroyed governments, leaders and people. The Mandal commission reservation resulted in self immolations and hartals. Any deviation of reservation of any sort is simply out of question. The heaviest hit sector because of reservation policies is obviously that of education. Almost all over the country the overall reservation runs to about 70% of the college seats results in a 30% open competition.

And now the reservation for women. The parliament has been discussing this topic for almost nine years now. It has been universally acknowledged that women do not recieve sufficient representation in the parliament or state assemblies. Their status is degraded in several parts of the nation. Infact, there are still towns and villages where women hardly see the light of the day. Though we can see some nice clippings of women piloting ariflights or driving autos or winning medals in sports or occupying 75% of the BPO sector, there is still a vast majority of women who are still to see anything beyond the kitchens in villages and even cities.

But does that warrant a 33.3% reservation for women in the pariliament and state assemblies ? Does this actually serve any purpose or is it just another plain gimmick of the political parties to woo the votes of the gentle gender ? One should remember that close to 23% of the current seats are already reserved for Scheduled castes and tribes. Giving away another 33.3% to women means that the rest have only 45% of the seats left to contest. In a multi-faceted and heavily diverse country like India, would this work out well ?

When compared to several other democracies, India has fared much better in the women-in-politics scenario. Take the United States for example. Of the total 1884 people who have served in the US Senate since 1789, only 33 are women - which is rougly about 1.75% . On the contrary, the percentage of women in the first Lok Sabha was 4.4% and that of the thirteenth was already 9.02%. One of the most powerful prime minister of India was a woman, whereas a woman President is still a taboo in the US. We have had women Chief Ministers and several Cabinet and state ministers, even at very young ages.

So why the hue and cry for 33.3% reservation for women all of a sudden ? What is the expectation here ? Is the plan to get downtrodden women, who are unwed mothers and do coolie work to feed their children come and represent a constituency ? Is the idea to get the lady who has seen nothing but kitchen smoke come and help make policies to prevent such pseduo-slavery for future generations ? Is there a feeling that more women becoming lawmakers will help make policies that will help upgrade women status in the nation ? I feel this to be as absurd as saying that we need one-third reservation for animals to be secretaries in the forest ministry. If in a country like US, where women play such a minor role in politics, the overall status of women is much much improved, shouldnt we be ahead in India, per the argument of the pro-reservationists ?

After 60 years of Independence, it may be time that we stop depending on reservation to help upgrade the downtrodden. Many a time we have seen the misuse and abuse of reservation and it is time that we rethink the whole strategy. Though done with all goodwill, blocking a huge number of seats for women help them jumpstart to come up in status, rather will be another heavily misused policy. Just like how the creamy layer of the castes have alone benefited out of the educational reservations, it will be the same case for women reservation too, with wives & sisters of powerful politicians or businessmen, ex-actresses and other rich powerful women taking up the lions share of the seats.

Maybe it is time we need a 33.3.% reservation for the educated or for non-tainted people. Maybe it is time we realize that we will do a favor to the nation as a whole by trying to put policies getting eligible and good people elected rather than getting representatives forcibly selected .


Monday, August 15, 2005

wishes wherever you are


I knew you would definitely google me out one day. It would have possibly taken years for you to decide, months to convince, weeks before you actually sat before the system and typed my name on the google search box and hours before you finally submit the search string containing my full name.

And if that day is today, there will be no one happier than me. For today is your birthday and as always you know I have wished you, wherever you are.

I cant forget those wonderful years that we spent back at good ole Chennai; hanging out almost every minute together; sitting in front of the bunk canteen munching two rupee molaga bajjis; walking miles together; having aimless chats and useless arguments; every day cinemas; weekend trips to temples; semester end trips......

We would be friends forever. .. Or so we had thought.

Tearful farewell, good bye parties. Your ambition brought you to the US for higher studies and my lack of it ended me where I was destined to. Handwritten letters from you that I preserve as egyptian treasures; countless emails from you that sent me hunting for a decent internet parlor in Secunderabad; advises, opinions, chats, discussions, arguments, fights - a few thousand geographical miles were shrunk into nothing by few words between us..

Time passed by, and the distance increased slowly as we sunk into our own worlds of work. But we always knew that we could reenter each other lives anytime, as if we werent away at all.

And then fate had to intervene. Unfortunate incidents made you rush to India. It was a sad day for you and I had to lend my shoulder for you to lean on. But I didnt make it. I had "work". I spent the days and nights at office working furiously as if I were turning the whole world upside down. I had to get my work done- my project delivered. I had no care for the people who needed me. It was me, my project, my job and my career.. what a stupid moron I was.

I was busy doing my job that I failed doing my duty.

When I came around to my senses you werent there. I had dropped & shattered the glass ball while trying to juggle and keep the rubber balls from falling. I knew that the damage was irrepairable and stupid justifications wouldnt do any good. Reasons are not band-aids for broken relationships. Time was the only healer. And I decided to wait...

Someday, I know, you will forgive me, google me out, track me down.. . and we will reenter each others lives, as if we werent away from each other at all.

Until then, happy birthday, my dear friend.


power and powerpoint


Wish you all a very happy Independence day.

I will keep this real short. I was amused, suprised, interested and more than anything - happy - when I read this news article from Hindu - President uses powerpoint.

A non partisan, highly educated, motivated, energetic, visionary, selfless, patriotic and a good man & leader Dr Abdul Kalam is our president. A man who has all the power that anyone could dream for - and he is utilizing them wisely to draw plans and energize the nation towards development. This is a great time for a great nation. And we need to capitalize on his energy & leadership...


Tuesday, August 09, 2005

2020 - too far or too near


I have been reading the India 2020- A vision for the new millenium by APJ Abdul Kalam and YS Rajan. The book was published in 1998. It carries a lot of relevance and message to the citizens of India. Of the various articles that I have come across and books I have read on this subject of making India a developed nation, this is definitely a precise and "upto the point" book. Seven years after the publishing of this book, we can visualize some of the predictions/assumptions turning true already.

Anyways, this book was lying on my office desk, when one of my esteemed colleagues, who has a broad vision on national & foriegn affairs (no prizes for guessing you-know-who) looked at the topic and skeptically said "2020 ! That isnt a long way.. Just 15 more years and that time is nothing in a nation's life". I barked back saying that his pessimism would lead us to nowhere and we gotta do something and just not say that it is too long or short or what !. (Travelling in the elevator this evening with you-know-who, I was amused when another colleague echoed "well, 15 years would go just like that" and he snapped his fingers.)

I have been reflecting what I heard. It was possibly not just pessimism that prompted you-know-who to be skeptical. Maybe he was right. We have been doing five year plans and we really arent sure ourselves on what path we are treading. While we have enriching statistics and reports from Planning commission of India, still we arent convinced that we are moving positively towards a well developed nation. Of course, the top cities are expanding rapidly, the IT revolution is giving rise to a cultural revolution etc., but how many of this makes any difference to kuppusamy in sembakkam village ?

But then again, we need a plan. We simply cannot sit and argue that certain things will take a long time and hence let the natural course take place. We cannot take historical references and stop working. We cannot sit and make a plan for 200 years ahead for envisioning success. There needs be a sense of urgency in some of these things to realize them. And there needs be a sense of giving - we work towards enriching and developing our nation, so that it may be a better place for our future young generations to dwell upon.

Vision 2020 should be treated like a project with full attention and backing from the government - the sponsors. The scope, schedule and cost need to be identified. The ROIs need to be nailed upon. Communication, resourcing and risks need to be managed skillfully. Phases need to be identified and milestones need to be met. Reviews need to be regular. Accountability and responsibility are key factors for progress. This is a project where every citizen is a stakeholder. It is all about change; changes to the socio-economic & cultural aspects of the people. We will never get a complete consensus and we cant choose to ingore sensitivities either. We will face opposition, both internal and external, making this one of the toughest project to execute. Borrowing a dialogue from a popular movie, "We have serious problems and we need serious people to solve them".

Yes. Fifteen years may not be a long time in a nation's lifetime. Maybe it will go away just like that, in a snap. Maybe we wont be able to reach the stars and fulfill all our dreams within this time. But there is no harm in having a vision and working towards the right things. It is worthy to lose in a cause that would win some day, rather than win in a short term cause that will lose one day.

With all the advancements in technology and science, with all the human power and brilliant brains, with all the passion and energy - if we dont make it, who else will ? As the Vision 2020 - report of 2002 concludes - Our future depends not on what will happen to us, but on what we decide to become, and on the will to create it.

Find the ends, the means will follow.


Wednesday, August 03, 2005

india, equipped


Nature is incomprehensible. One one hand it lashes out rains wreaking havoc and on the other hand, a few hundred miles away where people just clamour for droplets of water, the rains dont make any appearance at all.

The recent rains in Mumbai has left everyone speechless. The death toll is officially close to a thousand. Several thousands have been rendered homeless. Only half an year ago it was the raging seas that caused an epic disaster in the southern parts of asia damaging millions of lives.

It only goes to prove the point that as man keeps making astounding progress in science & technologies, there is a force that tries to keep all of us in check. While we have the capability to develop nukes, clone human beings, launch satellites etc., and keep moving ahead on one side, some of these calamities make us pause and wonder if we are investing our time, effort and money in the right direction ? - for example, in this instance, should we have focused on building better facilities, amenities that can sustain nature's fury ?

There are millions of voices blaming the governments for being ill-prepared to handle such situations, the NRIs being the prominent of the lot. To a certain extent it may be true as the government hasnt taken stern action on moving some of the millions who live in crooked alleys and ramshackle buildings and also letting the cities grow boundaryless without any control. However as the Chief economist of ABN Amro has said, if a similar lashout had happened in London or Singapore, those cities would have also probably been shut out and pretty much would have faced the same situation. Coming to think of it, how can one forget the complete shutdown of Washington, DC during the Winter 2002 when the Mayor announced that the district is simply not equipped to face that kind of snowfall.

Iam not defending the government's shortcomings here. But what is important is what needs to be done. Governing is prioritizing. And if the Maharashtra govt can turn deaf to nasty voices from Bal Thackerays and pay little importance to Abu Salems and Chotta Rajans and place their highest priorities to provide better amenties for people welfare, things will certainly be different. Similarly those of us who have been voicing opinions can come up with more constructive and implementable ideas that can be put forth. The NRI portals and blogs can play a very crucial role here (which they are already doing).

India is in the limelight now. The Prime Minister has reached historical accords with US on nuclear policies just few weeks ago. We have backing of several nations on a UN Security council seat. Several world powers have acknowledged our growth. We are a fast growing economy.

And during these times, poor responsiveness, ineffective rescue measures, loss of lives due to floods & rains, bad healthcare etc., can do nothing but damage our international reputation. It is imperative that we look internally and have some of these gaps fixed to ensure faith of international community - and more importantly to care, safeguard and guarantee the lives of the millions of Indians. This is basic and this deserves topmost attention.

We may not be able to change the course of nature. Or even predict its fury well ahead. But what we can do is be equipped & prepared better as a community. What good it would be to have a permanent membership in UN Security council, if people living inside our own borders feel insecure frequently ?


Thursday, July 28, 2005

again and again and again


How would it be if someone keeps saying something again and again and again ? Like, how would it be if we all start publishing our blog posts from the first one again and again ? For one, we ourselves wouldnt be interested in reading it. Certain things when repeated over and over can be sustained twice, thrice maybe - but definitely not more.

If that is the case, how is it that the TV channel TBS SuperStation exist ? And that too with a very decent viewership ? They run boundaryless repeats of every sitcom possible - Cosby Show, Home Improvement, Seinfeld, Everybody Loves Raymond, Friends and lately Sex & the City. Not just sitcoms but even movies like - Austin Powers I/II/III, Legally Blonde, Serendipity, The Truman Show.. - it is tough to differentiate one day from another in the TBS-TV.

And off late, TBS has signed up for the rerun of Everybody Loves Raymond show for the next 11 years !!. Considering the fact that Raymond had 230 shows and with the conservative show-rate of 1 epsiode per day for 5 days a week, the show will be repeated 11 full times for all the 9 seasons !!!

Not that I complain, Iam one big addict of TBS shows and my TV is always on Channel 17 from the moment I reach home uptol atleast 10:00 PM, but honestly, wouldnt it just get tiring at some point ? How can a channel target audiences with just repeating repeat performances ? That too when some of these epsiodes also perform a parallel rerun in FOX, WB, CBS and other local channels as well.

But anyways, I will stop here, 'coz TBS is showing Austin Powers - The spy who shagged me for the multi-billion trillion million gazillionth time and I havent gotten tired of it..; not yet... baby.


Sunday, July 24, 2005

woes of a bachelor - 2


With the heat wave sweeping across the NorthEast US and Wash,DC temperatures waiting to soar in three digits shortly, this weekend was not a welcome one. However I did have a few exciting events - being woken up early morning by the fire alarm, flashing lights and defeaning fire engines to start with; biking half the Mt. Vernon's trail (map on the left) only to find almost toward the end that we were biking in exactly opposite direction; planned for bowling as plan-A with Dirty Dancing on a open air theater as plan-B - only to cancel both plans and end up doing stargazing getting a neck pain... - a nice weekend.

And we had a birthday party of one of our friend's kids. It was a gala with lots of people pouring in, talking, rambling, yapping and what not in between the mouthfuls - we had an awesome time.

These kind of desi parties are good fun and good way to enjoy a weekend - eating when someone else's cooking, meeting scores of people, gossips/rumours/short stories/long stories/teasing/ragging.... - and loads of Indian delicacies.

But is it just that ?

One big trend in the desi get-togethers is the fact how bachelors are easily singled out. There are always the married people with kids - these kids steal the show playing & fighting and the parents sit & admire the kids, occasionally irritating them with stuff like "Mamakku hello sollu", "Thank you sollu", etc., The married folks flock together with the wives exchanging pleasantaries with each other, the hubbies shouting around slowly pulling the wives into discussions, teasing each other and all that.

Enter the bachelors into the party. There are two significant attributes to bachelors:
1. Always arrive in gangs
2. Always arrive late.
We slowly move around trying to mingle with others and at the same time avoid them as well - and in this process finally end up sticking with each other. We stand in a circle of our own - laughing, making jokes - the same things we would have done otherwise anyway. The only differences are that the volume is low here and the teasing is somewhat decent compared to other times. A few also try picking up kids, playing with them. Some others carry a new digi-cam shooting random pictures, which they will possibly never see more than one anyway.

The food bar is open after a agonising wait and the bachelors are specially called to have food. There is always the impression that we bachelors come to these get-togthers just for free food. It may not be fully wrong, though. And this is the killer time, when folks are in line for the buffet , that there is some chit chat between the two distinct communities - bachelors & the married ! The typical questions like "So when is the marriage annoucement ?", "When are you visiting India next ?", "When are you coming to OUR house ?" flow. And the victimised bachelor gives stupid laughs and tries shooing away the questions, only to find himself caught with the same questionnaire coming from a different person during the second helping. Sometimes phrases like "...lucky you guys, you dont have a commitment and can do as you wish.." can be heard. Not sure if it is a compliment, or if it is sarcasm or just a show off translating into ".. I have a wife & kids and Iam complete/perfect. You are single and worthless.."

Slowly after a couple of couples start leaving, the bachelor gangs try slipping away -a midnight movie mostly in the plans. Sometimes we just get lucky. Other times end up with us staying long after everyone is gone helping arranging the chairs and dumping the trash while also receiving free advice one-one with a experienced married man/couple on why we shouldnt postpone our marriage or why we should buy a house or what I should be doing with my life...

As the night settles in and when each of us say good bye and get dropped off, when we walk along the pavement, on the elevator and entering the home - the questions and the advice do remain clogging in the head, eating the brains, generating confusions... . Until the roomie pops up a drink and TBS channel starts AUSTIN POWERS for the umpteenth time, and bachelors become bachelors again..

PS: woes of a bachelor - 1 .


Friday, July 15, 2005

harry potter and the borders bash


Dont worry. This is not a review of the latest Harry Potter and the Half-Blood prince and Iam not going to give away any secrets or break the suspense here. Unfortunately I was not even able to get a copy of the book on the opening day. Procastinating as usual, I had delayed reserving my copy and the cut off for reservation at Borders bookstore was July 2nd.

Neverthless, when my local BORDERS bookstore announced a big bash as a prologue to the release of the book I decided to pay a visit and see what was in store. The fun was planned from 9:00 PM July 15 till midnight when the book bundles will be opened. I walked in and the Borders salesperson asked me if I wanted to volunteer for the kids event. I happily said yes. They gave a wizard hat, and a label that pronounced me as one of the dementors. (dont giggle!) - Borders sales people had taken all the nice adult characters. I was incharge of the Internation Music section and my job was to try and keep the kid-rowdies at order as much as I could.

There were hundreds of kids. Hundreds and hundreds. They were all wonderfully dressed as various characters from the Rowling books. Most of the boys were of course Potter or Ron and the girls were Hermoine. But you could see almost everyone including Hagrid. The dress was accurate as that of the movies. Potters carried the birthmarks on foreheads, Hermoines carried a huge cat, Dracos carried brooms. And irrespective of their fancy outfits, all kids were universally mischievous like the Weasley twins. There was Zonko's fake magic shop selling wands and candies. The espresso coffee shop had become Madam Rosemerta's Inn and carried potions. It was like as if Halloween had made it early this year. And as if you were at Hogsmeade near the Hogwarts school.

The main event was a treasure hunt and a Marauder's map was provided with cryptic clues. The kids were divided into teams of 10-20 sizes and we had 37-40 teams - it was way too tough to count. The kids were running around trying to figure out the clues. As everywhere, the Hermoines were more meticulous in solving the tricky questions than the boys. Further, the parents were more interested than their children trying to solve the riddles. Some kids were plain running around. A few were playing ground-quidditch. And there was a kid who had covered his whole face and running around, bringing down the book shelves that came across his way. There was also a section were kids were taught to make wizard hats and a few were having face painting done. The bookstore staff and us volunteers had a tough time to try and have the unruly young wizards & witches and their parents in order.

It was too much fun and interesting to see the kind of publicity and marketing being done for a children book. And it was enjoyable to see parents spending lot of energy, time and money and encouraging their kids to read. Nice to have been a part of the launching ceremony of hopefully yet another interesting Potter adventure. Expecto patronum !!!