Tuesday, January 29, 2008

An affirmative action that's no lip service

In a walk-the-talk instance, the BJP has adopted 500 farmers in the Vidarbha region of Maharashtra. This is good news. The BJP, in doing so, shows that it is serious about such issues & is focused on development for the people. This place had been in the news all for wrong reasons.

This indeed may be the first instance a political party in India has taken such a step, rather than lending lip service. It has done this to highlight the failures of the UPA government, which have been many. One may argue that the BJP may be doing this with an eye on the general elections, however, when you consider that it is actually going to adopt these farmers & not drum up assurances or make mere promises, it is a sign of it’s seriousness & commitment.

In view of such measures, the UPA government’s (especially Dr. Singh & Sonia’s) assurances look like hollow promises. It assumed power by it’s much publicized agenda for the ‘aam aadmi’ & governance with a human touch. After 4 years, it has little to show towards that.

Dr. Singh visited Vidarbha when the suicides were at their peak & it marked assurances for help from him. But what followed were little help & more suicides. Maharashtra has it’s very own strongman, Sharad Pawar, as the Union Cabinet Minister for Agriculture. But, that hasn’t helped either. His multi-crore BCCI duties keep him busy leaving little time to carry out his ministerial obligations. One would think, the leaders we elect to serve us would do what their duty demands of them, but this is not to be.

Dr. Singh himself has been guilty of not delivering on his promises. The ‘aam aadmi’ continues to be ‘aam’ even after 4 years of his premiership. His involvement with Project Tiger has failed to yeild results. His government continues with minority appeasement, caste & now religion based reservations. He has failed to act tough on terrorism. The non-Congress ruled states have accused UPA leadership of not aiding them enough.

But, the BJP does not get it right everywhere. It has to get all the leaders to understand it’s agenda & set an example by providing good governance in the states it is in power using it’s Gujarat experience. It needs to continue on it’s development agenda & set a benchmark for Indian politics. This will lead to a positive cycle in India, when the people will expect more of the good from governments & be intolerant to non-performers. This will go a long way in earning people’s trust. In doing so, it will really be a party with difference.

Indian Leaders Vs. American Leaders

Last night I switched on the T.V. to check the latest in American news. I was in time to catch the President's State of the Union speech. This was Bush's last one. A new President will be elected in November & the race to become the next one is turning out very interesting.

I had listened to a few addresses to the nation, back home, by our PMs & Presidents. And after listening to the American President speak last night I noticed that how the entire speech was about America as a nation. No particular reference to any particular community, no appeasement for any minorities. The speech centered around America, obviously & a strong desire to keep it ahead in this world.

Although this speech by Bush did not contain any ground breaking new proposals, there were a lot of interesting points that give insight into the American leadership, which has a strong will to retain it’s supremacy in the world.

It’s common knowledge now that America is witnessing slow economic growth. And this was affecting American businesses & people. The President acknowledged this & to retain its lead, tax breaks to the businesses were proposed. The general public was not ignored either, recognizing that slow economy does no good to working folks, tax rebates were offered, along with a possibility of making them permanent. This was aimed at letting people have more money, so they could spend more allowing monetary flow in the market. This would in turn help revive the economy. This is contrast to our finance ministers always looking for ways to tax us more (which always affects the honest, tax paying, salaried middle class).

Faced with tough economic times, the President announced that in the coming months, the government would scrap over 150 ailing projects & proposals that suck money with little returns, thus seeking to reduce spending tax money. A savings of $18 billion. This concern shown towards tax money paid by hard working citizens is rarely found in India. The tax money, back home, acts are a spending allowance to most of our political leaders. I wish they would show as much concern for out tax money & spend it judiciously.

The public health also found concern in Bush’s speech. Proposals to make affordable health care available to everyone were made. But back home in India, crores of Rupees allotted to the health ministry goes unspent, while our health minister indulges in personal battles. If only all that money were spent for the betterment of public health, the minister would be doing a great service to my beloved country.

New education policies were mooted to ensure quality education. The speech laid emphasis on making education available to everyone while monitoring quality of schools. Non performing schools would get the boot. Contrast that with what happens in India. Our education system is riddled with reservations, quality issues, and politics over history textbooks etc. If only our leaders focused on quality education, they’d be strengthening India’s future. There wouldn’t be migration of brilliant minds to other countries & would make India highly competitive in the world.

Bush also proposed to adopt new energy policies promoting renewable, clean, environmentally safe sources for the better of our beautiful planet’s future. We can certainly take a cue & care for our environment, can’t we?

But the one thing worth noting was America’s attitude on terrorism. It is absolutely unforgiving on it. It will go after it’s enemy with a singular goal to defeat it & secure America. This can be seen from it’s resolve to defeat forces that are a threat to itself (Taliban in Afghanistan, Saddam in Iraq, Jehadi terrorists everywhere etc.). It is willing to spend time & money for as long as it took to win over it’s enemies. This strong will to triumph over terrorism came out strongly in the speech & can be seen from it’s recent policies & wars. While America’s war on terror may be debatable to many, one thing can’t be denied. It’s will to protect it’s interests. I don’t think it’s wrong to protect one’s sovereignty. Our leaders need to show the same attitude towards terrorism & it’s enemies. There can be no levity on that regard. Enemies of India must be defeated at all costs. We may not have the resources that America has, but we must have the will & that will show us the way. Our leaders have not demonstrated any such will. To me, they came across as very soft in such matters. I wish they were more passionate about our nation’s sovereignty.

America’s leaders are very compassionate to their military heroes. They do not fail to recognize & honor their sacrifices at any time. But, the lack of compassion for our military heroes among our Indian leaders can be seen here.

The details of the speech can be found on any news site, but I’ve put here my thoughts on the contrasts between the attitudes of these two leaderships. We need leaders who have foresight, the will, passion to succeed as a nation & one’s that keep India’s interests as their top priority, not their vote banks.

Thursday, January 24, 2008

Side effects may include...

...headache, nausea, hallucination....you may very well exhibit these symptoms after watching those drugs ads run repeatedly on TV in the USA. There's hardly ever an hour that passes by, when one does not witness them. This probably is the only country where you can see this.

While developing drugs for sicknesses is good, advertising them on TV may not be a great idea. These ads lodge in people's minds & leads to patients demanding for certain drugs, they saw on TV, from their doctors. Patients can very easily mistake certain generic symptoms to some sickness & demand the drug for it, from an ad. All this highlights the pressure the drug companies exert to sell. And doctors aren't immune to it. Doctors are constantly pestered by representatives to sell drugs their company makes, in return for some share of the profit. I have a few friends who are doctors & hear them complain of patients who demand drugs they saw on TV. That shouldn't be the case, the doctors know best & are in the best position to prescribe a cure for you.

But, the way things work here, there's an intense push to sell drugs & it's big business. Coupled with insurance, the drug companies charge a super premium for their drugs. Quite a lot of prescription drugs are not affordable without insurance. What with the big drug companies being run by CEOs who don't come out of medical schools. Here's a simple instance, I was once prescribed an anti-fungal steroid cream & each prescription of a small tube of 100 g cost $445.00! My prescription had 4 such refills. Now, that a lot of money!

There are drugs for almost everything, the pharma companies come up with some really curious syndromes, there's one called 'Restless Legs Syndrome'. There are more such. In fact there are so many of them, chances are, without you realising it, you may have at least two of them right now. And no drug is ever without the long list of side effects. Besides, a majority of drugs advertised are developed to cure symptoms & not the cause of a sickness.

And of course, the drug ads change with the change in seasons. Medicines for cold in winter, allergies in spring, skin in summer etc. But some run all year, like the ones for cancer, heart, sleep etc. Sleeping pills are one of the most advertised drugs on TV. When a patient is convinced he needs more sleep, he will demand that from his doctor & when used irresponsibly may result in accidents like these.

For all the good drugs do to you, there's an overwhelming number of cases for medical malpractice, bad drugs in the market, frauds. Needless to say, insurance costs associated with these are steep.

More often that not, simple lifestyle changes will cure you. Following healthy lifestyle like watching your diet, regular exercise, maintaining a positive outlook to life will result in better health. If we follow our traditional wisdom, we'll be much better off than we are now.

Credible Indian Media?

Pratap Bhanu Mehta writes an excellent piece here. His column is on media credibility, which is severely lacking these days. And he is the right person to comment on this having proven his credibility by resigning from the knowledge commission because he could not do something he did not believe in.

The Indian media is fast losing it's credibility & this is becoming increasingly apparent. It has proven that, it is not above slant. Things have taken such a turn now that some media houses now openly propagate the political ideology they subscribe to. Most op-ed these days carry a heavy undercurrent of rhetoric. All the palavering one witnesses these days, only strengthens this view. From his column -

For the blunt truth is that there is a quiet crisis of credibility facing the
Indian media. And the media is living in a fool’s paradise if it mistakes
resisting the Left with putting its own house in order.

The column, discusses the lack of accountability in the media -

But the really important place competition has failed is in accountability of
the media itself.
Here's a possible reason why we never see any media house
holding it's adversary accountable -
This could be for many reasons: an
exalted sense of guild solidarity or an acute consciousness that they are all
living in glass houses. Competition does not lead media to hold each other

So ,it seems, the mainstream media in our country has formed some sort of sorority & refrains from chiding it's brothers when in the wrong. Or they never see any wrong among their brethren.

And this will explain the lobbying for certain companies -

A couple of newspapers have been reporting on an open secret of the media, the
existence of private treaties. Under these, media houses invest in companies,
which then receive favourable media treatment in turn, including column inches
favourable to these companies. Bennett and Coleman pioneered this, but many
other major institutions have followed. These deals are worth hundreds of
crores. Not to put too fine a point on it, the Indian media has crossed into
deeply murky ethical territory without even minimal public debate,
self-reflection and media outrage. How deep conflicts of interest run in the
Indian media, who is involved, what forms of advocacy or self-censorship these
impose, ought to be a matter of grave concern. But what is astonishing is how
little space there is in the media to acknowledge that there are serious issues

I'm personally hardly surprised, since most of the major media houses are run like businesses. And when it's business, revenues becomes important. Advertisements are their major revenues, ergo the favouritism. Such partisan treatment is not limited to corporations alone, but also to political parties that contribute heavily.

We need a socially responsible, publicly & nationally accountable media that plays a big role in nation building. One that brings out the real issues, ones that affect the nation, refrains from obfuscating what's inconvenient to itself & one that is highly credible.

Let's hope, we are not left with the only two choices -

The challenge for the media is this. It is caught between a CPM that wants
the state to have more powers than it should, and a market structure that thinks
literally everything should be for sale. If these are the only choices available
to us, God help the fourth estate and Indian democracy.

Thursday, January 17, 2008

Must read Op-Eds from Arun Shourie

A costly president?

So our President Pratibha Patil & her deputy, along with the governors, have got a pay hike. A full 100% no less! Well, one might argue that the job status & responsibilities demand such a thing. On the other hand, don't they also enjoy all the perks associated with the office they hold? Like say, free phone calls, residences, power, travel etc. Not to forget the priority treatment they are accorded on account of them being a VVIP.

But, when you look at it, they really are paid public servants. Our constitution says something to that effect, doesn't it? So, if they are paid (from our tax money) to work for us, shouldn't their performance be judged? In any other service, leave the government engagements; you have to prove your worth during every performance evaluation. And you have to perform well above & beyond your current role to merit a decent pay increase or an elevation. There are benchmarks set against which all of us are judged. But are there any such benchmarks for our politicians? I don't see any, do you? The only time they are at the mercy of the people is when it's time to get re-elected. But sadly, the state of affairs is such in India that the majority of the educated refrain from this exercise. Hardly anyone from the Indian middle class cares to go out & perform their civic duty. Our political brethren seem to realize this fully & address the rural who can be easily wooed by their shenanigans. Most of them do not address the educated lot in their election rallies.

The middle class seems to think that no good will come out of their participating in the polls. But they can make a significant impact if they get involved in it collectively. This is every Indian's civic duty & a very important one at that, one that has the potential to change our lives.

Coming back to the topic, the cost to the treasury is already quite high with all the perks & overheads attached to such constitutional posts. And thanks to their irresponsible ways they not only cost the tax payer a lot more, but also the environment. Read this to know how over 60 trees were chopped to clear the way for our Honorable President. Those trees could very easily be saved with a better plan, but it seems that would have wasted a lot of time. Ironically, Mrs. Patil was there to hand over eco-friendly houses to Tsunami victims. More (over 400!) trees were chopped off just because they were blocking the view! Two government resorts cancelled all bookings without notice during peak business season, to accommodate this VVIP. And all this while the President & her family was on a three day "official tour".

This is in such sharp contrast to the earlier President Dr. Kalam, who brought such respect to the post. We'll have to see how many more trees & the tax payers rupees are spent on such "official visits". And Mrs. Patil has been making a lot of trips since she became the President.

Wednesday, January 16, 2008

Playing darts for trophies!

Think you’ve seen it all, not even close. It’s amazing the things people do! Who would’ve thought a simple game of darts, only a hobby to some people, would be a league tournament. At least I didn’t expect it. It’s real & I had the opportunity to witness it. It was quite an experience.
It all started with a comment from my manager about him going to a Dart night. I was not sure what a dart night meant. When he started explaining, I almost fell out of my chair. Why? Well, for one, I had never heard anyone playing darts seriously. And second, I did not know that there are professional leagues in USA, where teams compete throughout the year for a spot in the playoffs and ultimately the finals. And the most amazing thing was that my manager was part of a team playing in New Jersey Dart league. (Don't believe me, check here.)
There are prizes distributed at the end of the season to the top teams. It includes a plaque with inscriptions on it & money too. Very interesting.

Entering a tournament.
First there has to be a team of about 8 people, who can all play the game of dartboard. A team will need only 6 people to play in a competition, but it helps in having some reserve players. With this a team can enter a tournament.

How is the league played.
It’s played in bars in towns, which have bars/pubs where the games can be played. Every team has a home pub assigned to them. Once a week, the team plays at home pub and the next week, they visit another team. Each team plays with a minimum of six members. They have a captain. The captain has the same responsibilities as captains in any other sport. The visiting captain writes the names of his players, one below the other, on one column of a sheet of paper. This list is covered up & then the home team captain writes the names of his players on the next column. When this is done, the sheet is uncovered & the names opposite to each will play each other.

Format of the game.
The teams play for 24 points on an evening. There are 6 doubles matches & 12 singles matches. Each doubles game win fetches 2 points, and each singles game 1 point. The team scoring most points wins.
In a doubles game, 2 players from a visiting team play 2 players from the home team. In a singles game, 1 player from the visiting team plays 1 player from the home team.
These competitions are held once a week. They begin with the preliminary rounds, then the playoffs & then the finals. The top teams form the Platinum League. My friend was a Platinum player last year. The next best teams form the Gold League, followed by the Silver League & the Bronze League. Each player & each team is rated.

Amazing things.
There are professional kits for darts, complete with a case to hold darts, plastic fly’s on the rear side. A new dartboard is used at each competition. How do you think the scores are kept? On a sheet of paper? Not at all. There is an electronic board to keep scores! As the competition progresses, things become so intense that players yell when they loose, kick things, curse themselves, just like in cricket matches. They cheer each other. What else do you think is involved here. There’s a lot of strategy involved in scoring the requisite points. There are terms like Hand Eye Coordination, Arm Control etc. Now that’s serious!

Why do people play this.
Apart from having fun, there are many gains here. You get to meet different people. There are all types of people who play this. I met a cop, a small construction company owner, some college kids etc. These are average Americans, the common people. You get to know their perspective, their opinion on things. It’s quite interesting. They are very unlike us, who are always behaving & doing things politically correct. These average Joes are far away from that. They are real people doing their thing with no bother whatsoever. You get to forget everything for a while & enjoy an evening, which is a great stress buster & rejuvenator. Moreover, you get to see different places as the competition moves to different venues. It is also a good break from the routine.

This was one great experience. I don’t know what am I going to see next. I’m sure there are a lot of amazing things to be seen.


What's this? Well, it's a radio show & is probably one of the best ones at that. It covers science, the topics are varied & interesting. It's produced by WNYC. The show is hosted by Jad Abumrad & Robert Krulwich. Although Krulwich joined Jad after it began. It'll begin it's fourth season in February & is absolutely one of my favorites.

It's on the radio, but I never catch it there. Thanks to iTunes & the wonder called podcasting, I listen to it on my iPod. I first heard it about a year ago when my friend recommended it to me & am hooked to it since. If you use iTunes (still not? It's free!), you can subscribe & download the podcast editions. You don't have to be in New York to catch this show if you have iTunes. I wonder if there's something similar in India?

It covers topics like, sleep, space, time, morality, stress etc. Although it's about science, it isn't one bit boring. On the contrary it the opposite. The presentation & the way the topics are discussed make it a fun experience. And in the process you learn something unusual, something amusing, something you didn't know about. The quality of this show amazing, right from the sound mixes, the structure, the format of the show, the light & entertaining nature of the hosts, the humorous way of presenting things, the explanations that are easy to understand. It isn't easy to describe the show. I'll paste something about it I found on the web -

"Radio Lab is an investigation. Each episode is a patchwork of people, sounds,
stories and experiences centered around One Big Idea. On Radio Lab, science
bumps into culture...information sounds like music."

And here's something from their website -

"Radio Lab is designed for listeners who demand skepticism but appreciate
wonder, who are curious about the world but who also want to be moved and

This is one of the ways to use you iPod. It's not all about music. Folks who take a train or a bus & ride for about an hour will find this a nice way to spend their journey. A highly recommended show, do check it.

Your favourite universities on iTunes

We all love our iPods & the interfacing software, iTunes. The two have been hailed all over the tech world & the seamless integration between the two is legendary. Their popularity speak for themselves. The newer iPods allow you to do more. Along with storing & playing your music, you can view photos on them, listen to audiobooks, watch/listen to podcasts, watch videos/movies etc.

The podcasts & audiobooks were already a nice addition which became extremely popular among users. Apple found an even better use for their iPods. It expanded the usage of its MP3 player further with itunes U. It's about universities providing courses in digital format to not only the students, but the whole world. Anyone who uses iTunes, can go to the iTunes store & search of iTunes U. There you'll find plenty of (over 200) universities providing audio/video podcasts. Here's a sample of some universities on iTunes -





As you can see, the list is not just some average around-the-corner city college, but some of the most respected ones. There are audio/video podcasts from a variety of topics/subjects.

Here's what it's about (from Apple) -

Education evolves.
iTunes U has arrived, giving higher education
institutions an ingenious way to get audio and video content out to their
students. Presentations, performances, lectures, demonstrations, debates, tours,
archival footage — school is about to become even more inspiring.

Of course, this news is not new. This began back in 2006, albeit only as a partnership between Stanford & Apple. This partnership met with such success, that soon Apple approached others & the list has now ballooned to over 200. Almost half of the top 500 schools in the US now offer courses on iTunes. The next time you use iTunes, check iTunes U.

Tuesday, January 15, 2008

An Indian Frenchman

Francois Gautier, like most of you know, is very open about his fondness for India. He likes it so much that he married an Indian & has been living in our beloved country for the past 33 years.

I came across his works years ago when I read his columns on Rediff. Not being an Indian & not belonging to any particular Indian community helps him in being unbiased. I found his work to be that way. If you read most other Indian opinions, you'll see a certain bias/inclination at the cost of objectivity. More often than not, personal views/preferences come out through their works.

Mr. Gautier has been working to bring out the facts about India & it's history. He has started a foundation called FACT, that holds exhibitions to achieve this. Some of them can be seen here. He has taken these exhibitions around the world & has tried bringing out the truth about India's history. Some of the exhibitions were on the Kashmir situation, Shivaji the great Maratha warrior, the truth about Aurangazed & have been greatly appreciated. In the last one, he has used actual facts to bring out the truth about how Aurangazeb sought to spread his empire & faith. His own court records say so. Read this to know the truth. It's surprising, even baffling to know, in the face of all this proof, some of the Hindu bashers still continue to do so blindly. You should criticize Hindus & Hinduism for all that's bad, the Sati tradition, dowry etc. But also acknowledge the truth & see what was done to it. Not everything is bad about the Hindu faith.

It's strange to know how the fact is different from what we've learned or known through popular readings & media. The mainstream media & it's rhetorical ilk often obfuscate the truth. In their penchant for sensation & high TRPs, true journalism is the victim. His works are worth reading. Going through his columns, you'll realise that he has read extensively on India, it's history & it's traditions. Most of us have not done that. Our knowledge of history is based primarily on our school education, which we all know is not entirely fair. Like this article says, the English did it wrong. But we are blessed today with a French journalist who is undoing the injustice meted out to our glorious tradition. One of us should have done this long ago, but we should lend support to his work & help spread the facts.

Monday, January 14, 2008

Karnataka BJP gets it wrong

BJP is in poll gear in Karnataka. It is making popular promises to gain power. While the Gujarat power model was much appreciated, the BJP does not seem to have learnt anything from there. This is not the first time any party has made such a populist promise. We've had Congress make such promises many times in the past. AP is an example. The BJP-Shiv Sena coalition in Maharashtra did that before along with other states like TN. We've seen that such promises aren't easy to keep.

This is a retrograde move by BJP. It will surely put strain on the state in keeping this promise. The state leadership is shortsighted & cannot see anything beyond seeking power. The announcement seems to have been made keeping mind BESCOM's recent performance. How far will this be sustainable remains debatable.

This will no doubt be abused by rich farmers thus benefiting them more than the poor farmer. Instead the governments should be focusing on curbing losses by stopping electricity theft, recollecting past dues, regulating meters etc. While some steps in the right direction are being taken, this latest announcement is not. It may undo all the recent good by straining the finances. Besides, where will the money come from? Of course the tax payers. It is time that we people started holding our leaders accountable for our money & took part in the process. It's our state/country after all. Once the electricity board is under financial burden, talks of privatisation will begin.

The states should be working towards the larger interests of the nation. Distributing free power is not such a thing. Karnataka needs strong local leadership that will take it forward towards prosperity. Most of the leaders have sought to exploit the development in Bangalore & do little more. Former PM H. D. Devegowda's party was in power & he had a chance to serve his home state. But sadly, like we have all seen, his greed has cost the people of Karnataka much rather than benefiting from him. Let's hope that Karnataka finds some strong leaders with foresight that keep the interests of the people (along with the nation) in mind & give them a progressive, stable government.

Sania shouldn't be bothered

Controversies aren't new to Sania Mirza. Be it her supposed comments on pre-marital sex, or some conservatives slamming her sports attire, or her ad-film shooting controversy. The latest one being her showing disrespect to our national flag. Apparently she's tired of being in the news for wrong reasons & is reconsidering her future. She seems to wonder if all her hard work isn't worth much if this keeps happening to her.

She shouldn't be worried. If she indeed is, then she's letting all the noise triumph over her. Her mind should singularly be on her game & should filter all the nonsense. I'm sure she loves her game & her country more than letting petty things affect her. I bet there are more people that love & support her than those creating controversies. There are enough examples in world sport for her to draw inspiration from.

Look at Tiger Woods, he's practically unbeatable. One of the golf commentators once jokingly commented that he should be lynched. This was seen as a racist remark against Tiger. But he refused to be bothered by it, his comment was all my rage comes out on the golf course when I'm playing my shot & it ends there after that. My concentration is on the game & nothing else. His representatives to the media said that, Tiger does not believe that the comment was racist & that he took no offence. That was the end of the story. Further he contacted the commentator who made the comment & assured her that he realized that it was made in good humor. That was the end of that.

Why look any further than our very own Sachin Tendulkar. He's had a long, fruitful career & is still going strong. Even after all these years that he's put into his game, his focus is till intact. He still goes out to do the best he can. He's had his share of controversies, in fact, he was involved in a similar case when he cut a cake that had the tricolour on it. Not to forget the tax on his Ferrari issue. Some people doubted or continue to doubt him. Yet he refused to be bogged down. There are many more examples.

I just hope that Sania shrugs all this off & continues to bring us joy. In fact all this should ignite a fire within her to achieve even more & win some grand slams for her country. That will give her critics something to talk about. Worry not Sania, your country is with you.

Sunday, January 13, 2008

The real Tehalka

I know this is a bit old (what can I say, I'm a lazy blogger), but is very interesting nevertheless We all know how Tehalka loves to cause well...you know...Tehalka. In it's attempt to discount the work done by the Narendra Modi government in Gujarat, it carried out the ill fated sting operation. And some of it's journalists had some interesting views. But, they are not exactly right as pointed out nicely by The Acorn at INI (a site I recommend you visit).

Shivam Vij at Tehakla would like you to believe that Gujarat is not fair in reporting poverty in the state. Read The Acorn's fair post here, that brings out the truth.

Shivam alleges that the public health situation in Gujarat is deteriorating. The Acorn points out how Tehalka chooses to present data when the situation is not as bad as presented.

Another claim made was the widening rural-urban divide. Read this to know how imagination works at Tehalka.

Read this to know how claims were made about the sad agri situation.

The turnaround in the power sector is worth studying & emulating across the country. But if you believe Shivam, the opposite is true. The 900 MW power shortage reported in April was as a result of some temporary technical glitch.

On April 7th this year, the Indian Express reported: “A day after state was hit by severe power crisis with 900 MW power supply falling short after few power generating units at different plants failed to operate at full capacity level owing to technical problems, GUVNL authorities on Sunday refused to come out clear on the issue…It is noted that on Saturday, around 900 MW power shortages was reported when power generation units at Akrimota project, Vanakbori, Gandhinagar and Ukai power plants developed technical problems”.

Modi was indeed talking of real development & issues that affected people. I thought that journalists were supposed to be fair & objective. But those characters are largely missing in today's mainstream media.

For a full summary of all the above links, that debunk Tehalka's claims, click here for a PDF version of The Acorn's full post.

For Ha Ha's

I received this e-mail this morning. It's a rather funny summary of the state of political affairs in India. Here's the e-mail text -
Ant & Grasshopper

The Ant works hard in the withering heat all summer building its house and laying up supplies for the winter.
The Grasshopper thinks the Ant is a fool and laughs & dances & plays the summer away.
Come winter, the Ant is warm and well fed. The Grasshopper has no food or shelter so he dies out in the cold.

Modern Version

The Ant works hard in the withering heat all summer building its house and laying up supplies for the winter.
The Grasshopper thinks the Ant ' s a fool and laughs & dances & plays the summer away.

Come winter, the shivering Grasshopper calls a press conference and demands to know why the Ant should be allowed to be warm and well fed while others are cold and starving.

show up to provide pictures of the shivering Grasshopper next to a video of the Ant in his comfortable home with a table filled with food.

The World stunned by the sharp contrast. How can this be that this poor Grasshopper allowed suffering so?

Arundhati Roy
stages a demonstration in front of the Ant ' s house .

Medha Patkar
goes on a fast along with other Grasshoppers demanding that Grasshoppers be relocated to warmer climates during winter.

Amnesty International and Koffi Annan
criticizes the Indian Government for not upholding the fundamental rights of the Grasshopper.

The Internet is flooded with online petitions seeking support to the Grasshopper (many promising Heaven and Everlasting Peace for prompt support as against the wrath of God for non-compliance).

Opposition MPs
stage a walkout. Left parties call for "Bharat Bandh" in West Bengal and Kerala demanding a Judicial Enquiry.

CPM in Kerala immediately passes a law preventing Ants from working hard in the heat so as to bring about equality of poverty among Ants and Grasshoppers..

Lalu Prasad
allocates one free coach to Grasshoppers on all Indian Railway Trains, aptly named as the ' Grasshopper Rath ' .

Finally, the Judicial Committee drafts the ' Prevention of Terrorism Against Grasshoppers Act ' [POTAGA], with effect from the beginning of the winter.

Arjun Singh
makes ' Special Reservation ' for Grasshoppers in Educational Institutions & in Government Services.

The Ant; fined for failing to comply with POTAGA and having nothing left to pay his retroactive taxes; its home is confiscated by the Government and handed over to the Grasshopper in a ceremony covered by NDTV.

Arundhati Roy calls it ' A Triumph of Justice ' .

Lalu calls it ' Socialistic Justice ' ...

CPM calls it the ' Revolutionary Resurgence of the Downtrodden '

Koffi Annan invites the Grasshopper to address the UN General Assembly .

Many years later

The Ant has since migrated to the US and set up a multi-billion dollar company in Silicon Valley .

100s of Grasshoppers still die of starvation despite reservation somewhere in India ...

because of loosing lot of hard working Ants and feeding the Grasshoppers, India is still a developing country!!!

Friday, January 11, 2008

Are You Serious?

If you believe the gentlemen at APCC, Sonia Gandhi deserves the Bharat Ratna. I'm mystified. You have to read the reasoning behind this by the folks at APCC. Here's the source.

Here's what the APCC general body says -

Her act of "supreme sacrifice" deserved nothing less than "Bharat Ratna",
Congress leaders declared at the APCC meet in the presence of the AICC general
secretary and in-charge of AP Affairs, Digvijay Singh.

If that's not enough, digest this -

The AICC secretary, Jayakumar (an MLA from Tamil Nadu) thought it fit to
position her next to Buddha. Earlier, she was a "Maha Sakti" for him. He missed
out on Mahatma Gandhi, but was fortunate that he could serve a "living mahatma",
he added.

There's more, read the story at The Hindu.

In the Interest of the Nation

In my quest to seek some independent views on matters concerning my motherland, I stumbled upon on INI. It's a community of bloggers with some independent & unbiased views. Matters that concern our nation as a whole & some community. They even have a monthly publication Pragati, it's a good read. I recommend it. Some blogs I follow here are Acorn (political matters), Offstumped (current politics), Lex (legal matters) & Pragmatic Euphony (defense matters).