Thursday, October 22, 2009

The Tiger

TIGER, tiger, burning bright
In the forests of the night,
What immortal hand or eye
Could frame thy fearful symmetry?

In what distant deeps or skies
Burnt the fire of thine eyes?
On what wings dare he aspire?
What the hand dare seize the fire?

And what shoulder and what art
Could twist the sinews of thy heart?
And when thy heart began to beat,
What dread hand and what dread feet?

What the hammer? what the chain?
In what furnace was thy brain?
What the anvil? What dread grasp
Dare its deadly terrors clasp?

When the stars threw down their spears,
And water'd heaven with their tears,
Did He smile His work to see?
Did He who made the lamb make thee?

Tiger, tiger, burning bright
In the forests of the night,
What immortal hand or eye
Dare frame thy fearful symmetry?

I had to revisit this classic by William Blake (1757–1827), especially when Radio Indigo is plugging its “Engage Indigo: Get Involved, Get Engaged Campaign” so vigorously that it is actually bordering on irritation. This campaign by Indigo is actually supporting an initiative by The Wildlife Protection Society Of India (WPSI).

The WPSI website is quite informative, but lacks information on how our donations will be utilized it its efforts to save the Tiger.

I was really disappointed with the Radio Indigo’s webpage. There are the following options:
• E-mail them to show support.
• Send in donations to their office
• A link for the WPSI website for more details and
• A ‘Save the Tiger’ pledge link.

Apart from these, there was no information regarding what would happen if someone decides to mail them as a show of support or decides to take a pledge. If they are expecting people to send in their donations to their office, after listening to those advertisements or visiting their website; how about some information on how their contributions would be used to save the Tiger.

Nope. We are expected to visit the WPSI website and find the information, which was really unhelpful as I have mentioned above earlier.

Here’s an interesting take on Radio Indigo’s campaign by Paul Nixon. Please go through this interesting blog post titled “Ronseal's quick dying tiger” at India-aaagh.

Then, is this a well managed publicity stunt created for the sole purpose of saying we care, but actually it is just another corporate soul cleansing activity? All those e-mails and pledges, will they really save a Tiger?

Following a tiger census carried out in 2007 which said that the wild tiger population in India has declined by 60% to approximately 1,411 Tigers, the Indian government pledged $153 million to further fund the Project Tiger initiative, set-up a Tiger Protection Force to combat poachers, and fund the relocation of up to 200,000 villagers to minimize human-tiger interaction. Additionally, eight new tiger reserves in India are being set up

I found that on Wikipedia. How much of the pledges and planning has found the light of the day, is unknown. I guess an RTI would divulge something. But then what is the point? If all these measures do not result in saving the Tiger population, then of what help would our pledges, e-mails and donations to Radio Indigo’s campaign achieve.

But if you want to clear your guilt, even though you know that it is pointless. Go ahead. Pledge your support. Write e-mails. Donate!

Friday, August 28, 2009

Money Matters

It is ironic that here in India, the left hand is completely out of sync with its right hand and also the rest of its limbs!

The Indian sports ministry has apparently rejected the proposal of holding an F1 race here in India, which would have cost the exchequer around $36.5 million. It contended that the money can be used instead to promote other lesser known Indian sports. If the ministry really does what it believes, then it would be holding a candle for the rest of government machinery here in India to follow.

On the other hand, the UP Government has told the Supreme Court that installing various statues (including that of the Chief Minister’s) in the state at the cost of around $100 million was approved by the state Legislature. This was in response to a petition filed in the court alleging waste of taxpayer’s money.

The state machinery in UP is in dire straits. Encephalitis has been plaguing the state, causing the death toll (mostly children) to approach the 200 mark this year alone. According to a World Bank report, infant mortality rate in UP is the highest in India. Swine flu is slowly spreading its wings. The public sector has failed to create an investment friendly atmosphere. The biggest stumbling block here in UP is deep rooted caste and gender inequalities.

Is the $100 million for building statues justified? How did the State Legislature approve it? If it did, then what was the Central Government doing? The biggest question here would be is why the public of UP not raising its voice?

Blissful ignorance would be the perfect answer. Or would it?

Saturday, August 15, 2009

This Is Where We Stand After 62 Independent Years

Why we Indians fail the nation” by Ramesh Khazanchi is a good read. However there are a couple of points which require a different perspective. Here is my perspective on them.

We keep our homes spanking clean and dump all the garbage outside, on the streets.

Should we be ashamed of our behavior? No. The civic agencies are corrupt, lazy and don’t clean the streets at all. I have never seen any worker from any of the civic agency cleaning the streets in my life and I have been living at one single place since my birth. Most of the families here have put in place a wonderful system of cleaning the street in front of their houses, either by employing a maid or doing it by themselves.

The garbage collection system is erratic and the driver of the garbage truck is always drunk. Moreover, we pay him 20 – 50 bucks every now and then to ensure he does not forget to come and collect the garbage.

What should we do, set up garbage disposal units outside our homes? I guess the civic agencies wouldn’t mind as it would give them another opportunity to fleece us with extra taxes, not that we are paying them enough already.

The community bin concept does not work here as they are hardly cleared and always overflows. Obvious isn’t it? Oh and the one thing that the so called civic agencies are good at is sending notices if we fail to pay our taxes on time.

We routinely employ children below 14 years of age as domestic help or in jobs of hazardous nature.

I am totally against this as I believe in the basic fundamental right to education which these children are entitled to. But spare a thought for those who have received education and are languishing on the streets without jobs.

What is the guarantee that the education will land the child a job? What if the child does not want to learn and wants to work in order to support a family. The child may be the sole bread winner for its family. Pulling the child out of a job and putting in front of a blackboard does not help as its family might die of hunger. The child might die of hunger. Learning to read and write does not satisfy the hunger pangs.

Our social security system does not exist as it does in the developed countries that frown on such practices. The poor and the jobless are left in the lurch to fend for themselves, with no help coming from the government that is busy in introducing legislations for an increase in the salaries and perks of the netas. They don’t care if we are eating our own shit, as long as we are paying sanitary taxes on time.

62 years of independence, after spending countless years of being ruled under different invading hordes; does it matter anymore? Corruption is gnawing away at the roots of our freedom. How long will the stability last? Something’s got to give. Every day we inch closer to tag of a failed nation. (Look at Congo for an extreme example). All our successive Governments and their policies have failed us and we as citizens have failed it by not raising our voice against corruption and allowing it to flourish.

Friday, August 7, 2009

Samsung Reclaim

It costs less than 50 dollars at Sprint and according to the Samsung, the Reclaim is 80 percent recyclable as it is made from bio-plastic. The packaging is made from 70 percent recyclable material, while the ink used for printing text and images on the package and the phone warranty is made from soy. The charger consumes about 12 times lesser power than the Energy Star standard.

Samsung has positioned it as an eco-friendly messaging phone. 2 dollars will go to the Nature Conservancy’s Adopt an Acre program in the U.S.

Image Courtesy: Samsung

Sunday, August 2, 2009

Retour des Champions

What an amazing week it has been!

Seven time Tour de France winner Lance Armstrong finished 3rd at this years Tour. Eight time Grand Prix winner “The Doctor” Valentino Rossi extended his lead in this years Moto GP Championship. Last but not the least; Michael Schumacher has announced his comeback to Formula 1 this year, albeit only as a replacement to the Felipe Massa.

However, there is the sad news of BMW confirming that this year would be its last in F1. But the good news is that 12 teams have signed a new Concorde Agreement that lasts until 2012.

I was really hoping that this year’s Tour de France would be dope free. But I guess I was hoping against hope. Mikel Astarloza, winner of the 16th stage, has tested positive for EPO and has been suspended by the ICU. Is he the only person to test positive for doping at this year’s Tour or will there be more? Only time will tell.

Friday, July 3, 2009

Festival of Cycling is back!

The Tour de France 2009 kicks of its 96th edition, covering roughly 3,500 kilometers over 21 days. But it not an ordinary tour as Lance Armstrong is back riding in his favorite event.

In terms of geographical boundaries, the tour will be passing through six countries this time around: Monaco, France, Spain, Andorra, Switzerland and Italy.

Another novelty is the communication between the riders and their team managers being banned in stages 10 and 13.

I am will be following this year’s event on the web, hoping against hope that it turns out dope free.

Saturday, June 27, 2009

The King Lives On….In Our Hearts.

“We are the World….” he sang. We were the World to him. Now he is no longer in this World.

There are people dying
And it's time to lend a hand to life
The greatest gift of all

There were none to lend a helping hand to him when he was down with financial troubles. Creditors were always circling around him like vultures. They still are.

That a change will only come
When we stand together as one

That change never happened because he was the only one who believed in it.

Heal the world
Make it a better place
For you and for me and the entire human race.

The world was a better place when he was there. Now that he has gone, the world will never be the same again.

Nevertheless, the King of Pop lives on having moon-walked into our hearts, forever.

Long live the King! May his soul rest in peace.

Friday, June 26, 2009

Formula One has averted the crisis - for now

The revolt has been put down, compromises has been made and the show goes on. The eight teams have agreed to participate in the 2010 Formula One World Championship until 2012 and eventually cut costs to the levels of the early 1990’s. In return, the FIA has agreed to impose no further regulations. The 2009 regulations as well as further regulations agreed prior to 29 April 2009 will be in force for 2010 and onwards.

The big cheer is that FIA President Max Mosley will not to stand for re-election in October this year.

Gentlemen, start your engines.

Saturday, June 20, 2009

Formula One no more!

The news hasn’t sunk in yet. In fact, it refuses to sink in. A formula one race featuring Williams, Force India and a couple of entrants, is simply not acceptable. It is not the Formula 1 that I am so familiar with, having watched the likes of Benetton’s, Jordan’s, Minardi’s, McLaren’s, Renault’s, BMW’s, Ferrari’s jostling for positions at the first corner.

I am still hoping that the FIA and FOTA would put aside their differences and continue racing. But that would only satisfy my greed.

Watching cars trundling around in a procession is not exactly exhilarating. At one point in time, certain manufacturers with deep financial pockets had achieved so much of technological development on their cars; they were ahead of others at least by two years. This resulted in the same old teams racking up podium finishes while the rest were just also-rans, filling up the grid. This made Formula 1 boring. In order to bring parity, the FIA continued introducing fresh rule changes almost every year, thereby reducing the technological gap. It almost paid off this year where the Brawn’s have dominated along with the Red Bull and a couple of other manufacturers putting in competitive performances.

But at what cost? The regulations have made the F1 races less thrilling to watch. Technically speaking, the engine size has been constantly whittled down. The cars are no longer as fast as they used to be in the 70’s and the 80’s. Simply putting it, it is no longer the driver stomping on the gas pedal and going as fast as possible, harking back to the old adage: better the driver faster the car. Just look what technology has done these days. There is no point having a supremely gifted driver driving the car because the car is the limiting factor. There is so much of electronics aiding the driver these days; one does not need to be a Senna or Schumacher.

Formula One is supposed to represent the ultimate, to be the most advanced and most competitive racing formula. However, with budget caps and regulations it is no longer Formula One. High end sports cars these days almost match the performances of a Formula One. That should say it all. Formula One is supposed to be “the next level” that is very difficult to reach. Sadly they have it all screwed up.

I have never seen the yellow helmet race, having tuned in to F1 when the red one was making its mark. We will never see them again. I will probably stop watching Formula One as it has come to embody rules, regulations, budgets and restrictions. It is not about racing anymore.

Monday, June 1, 2009

Chhattisgarh: Flattering to deceive?

Chhattisgarh, carved out of Madhya Pradesh as the 26th state is largely a forested area dominated by tribals and blessed with rich mineral resources.

The Ministry of Finance, Government of India, the state government has decided to set up four 'Star Industrial Areas in the districts of Bilaspur, Raigarh, Rajnandgaon and Raipur.

Chhattisgarh is rich in minerals. It is endowed with rich deposits of coal, iron ore and bauxite. No wonder Chhattisgarh has integrated steel and aluminium factories. The state also has deposits of copper-ore, manganese ore, rock phosphate and limestone. Most of the mining activity is concentrated in the areas of Raipur (cement), Korba (coal), Durg (iron ore and dolomite) and Bastar (tin and corundum). Though mining holds a bright future for the state, a substantial portion of the regions identified with mineral resources are covered by forest areas and/or occupied by tribal communities, thereby making their extraction impossible.

Anyone reading the above mentioned facts would feel that the state is poised on the cusp of development.

Let’s do a reality check.

I came across a document on the web that labeled Chhattisgarh as “a rich state inhabited by poor people.” It boasts of a Per Capita Income of $ 264 which works out to 72 cents per day. The tribals’ eke out a living by selling forest products. However, even this occupation has been endangered as the government seeks to rehabilitate tribals away from the forests with an eye on the rich mineral deposits. The government has been acquiring land for industrial activities, saying that the ‘industrialization’ would benefit the tribals. I wonder how?

On the other hand, the tribals also have to contend with naxals on one side and the Salwa Judum on the other. They are caught between the devil and the deep blue sea. Reports of Naxals massacring the tribals are plenty and so are the reports that the state government backed civilian militia, the Salwa Judum who loot, murder, rape the tribals regularly with impunity. Ultimately, it works to the government’s advantage as the tribals flee their birthplaces to the neighboring states, thereby posing no threat to the land acquisitions.

The ordeal does not end there. The tribals who have flown the coop to other states are suspiciously looked upon as supporters of naxalites and are being denied basic amenities.

This is the real face of India. The government prefers to cater to mining and industrial lobby rather than the welfare of these dirt poor tribals in Chhattisgarh.

Ramachandra Guha portrays a more vivid picture in his article “A War in the Heart of India.”

Saturday, May 23, 2009

Children of God

I had written earlier about Congo being the most unsafe place in the world for women. Let me add children to the list too. Children are being looked upon as unnecessary burden. Families accuse their children of being witches and throw them out onto the streets. It is even worse if it is a girl child because once they are thrown out onto the streets; they are raped and forced into prostitution.

Earlier, families used to accuse older members of being witches and throw them out, when they no longer were useful. With non-existent economy and the civil war still ravaging, children are being viewed as un-necessary burden. Hence, witchcraft is used as an excuse to get rid of them.

Congo being one of the poorest nations in the world, has spawned corrupt Christian pastors who are making a quick buck by performing brutal and mentally scarring exorcisms. Please refer to this ABC News article that chronicles in details the horrific rituals, both in print and video.

According to UNICEF, 70 percent of the 20,000 street children in Kinshasa have been accused of being witches. Most of the families living in Congo have experienced, at one point of time either death, divorce, rape and sometimes all of them. Out of desperation and belief, when they turn to God for deliverance the corrupt pastors mislead them by accusing the children in their family as the root cause for their evils and that they are witches.

It is a costly deliverance too as the pastors’ charge anywhere between $50. It gets worse when families cannot afford the costly exorcism and they resort to beating, burning, starving and in the extreme cases – murder their children. The ordeal does not enc there for families who can afford such barbaric rituals. The children, who are exorcised, are often thrown out of the house as they appear to be tainted in the eyes of their family members.

The Congolese government is of the view that it is legal to accuse children as long as there is proof. All it takes for a child in Congo to be labeled as a witch is to have big eyes, black eyes or a bulging tummy.

I was wondering how much worse it could get. In the near future, will I be writing a blog post on cannibalism in Congo? If parents are desperate enough to throw their own children out on to streets, then the time wouldn’t be far away when we might hear about parents devouring their own children! Maybe I have watched too many horror movies.

Please visit the following links for more details on the horrific witchery that is ravaging Congo:

A quick Google search would throw up many more horror stories.

TIA – This Is Africa, the cradle of our civilization. What went wrong?

Friday, May 22, 2009

80 Feet Road in all its glory!

What an evening it was, providing some of us a much needed break. We jostled and took turns to stand near the window facing the 80 Feet Road, watching the rain in all its fury (a full 45 minutes of it dumping around 45.6 mm of water) and the hapless motorists and pedestrians struggling in knee deep water.

We gleefully encouraged the hesitant car drivers to go ahead on a 20 meter stretch of road submerged in 3-4 feet of water. We started betting amongst ourselves on which car would die in the pool of water and which one would scrape through safely. We watched in awe as the BMTC bus drivers drove through the pool of water, reminding me of WRC races.

Opportunists were earning money by offering a hand to push the stalled cars to safety. Talk about good Samaritans!

The cyclists were the hapless of the lot, wading in the water with the cars and bikes ploughing ahead around them. Some of them, including the bikers had opted to use the footpaths which were wrought with danger as some of the stone slabs on the footpaths were missing. We were watching all this from the 3rd floor window and only thing missing was a packet of hot roasted peanuts.

Once the water had drained away, the road was left covered with sand and stones, making it quite a motor cross experience riding home.

Bangalore is already groaning while the monsoons are yet to come. As usual, the BBMP, despite their tall claims that Bangalore would be better prepared this monsoon; gave inexplicable excuses for the flooding that Bangalore had witnessed yesterday.

PS: I apologize for the low quality pictures as they were taken using a cell phone camera (2.0 MP) from a window on 3rd floor.

Saturday, May 16, 2009

Crazy Gamers on Dope

Winners don't do drugs... they take supplements!

Can you believe it? This was one of the slogans that turned up for FpsBrain on Google.

With the nation glued to the telly for the election results and reports of first swine flu case in India, I came across this piece of news – Performance enhancing supplements for gamers.

This company claims to have a magic formula for computer gamers that increases their concentration and reaction times. The company dissociates itself from any forms of doping, according to its website. However, they maintain that performance enhancement matters in every form of professional sport.

The company does not reveal the ingredients of its products.

Being a hardcore gamer myself a long time ago, I did not realize gaming has become such a professional sport that the players need supplements to keep up their concentration levels and improve their reaction times.

What next? Provide urine samples to the WADA before and after a tournament!

I do wish I could go back to the good old days when I stayed up all those nights playing games just for the fun of it. Pure passion was what drove me to spend all those sleepless nights playing computer games.

Image source:

Saturday, May 9, 2009

The Silent Death of the Olive Ridley’s

The beaches of Orissa (Devi, Gahirmatha and Rushikulya) are one of the last nesting grounds for these turtles. Even though they are considered abundant, their numbers have been dwindling due to increased activities of trawling and mining. They are now listed as Vulnerable on the IUCN Red List; and Endangered under US Endangered Species Act, Australia's Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act 1999 and Queensland's Nature Conservation Act 1992. [Source: Wikipedia]

National Marine Fisheries Service, USA quotes Marine Turtle Specialist Group (MTSG) of the IUCN that there has been a 50% reduction in population size since the 1960s. Gahirmatha, Orissa, India used to be one of the largest nesting sites in the world. Over the past five years at Gahirmatha, there has been a nesting event in only two of those five years. A survey of 27 West African nations indicated that nesting females were killed in 14 of those countries for their eggs meat and skin.

Off the coast of the Indian Ocean, the major cause for the decline of these turtles is the coming of age of the shrimp trawling. As the fishermen started to employ modern technology to increase the size of their catch, more than 76, 980 turtles have been killed; says a study on “Olive ridley mortality in gillnets in Orissa” by Wright and Mohanty, 2002.

Lepidochelys olivacea as they are known scientifically, in the wild they are known to survive upto 50 years. It is believed that Olive Ridley turtles return to nest on the same beach they are hatched. That shows how much they trust in the beaches that they were born on and that is why they return to the same beach, hoping that their babies too would survive if they are born on the same beaches.

What are we HUMANS doing? We betray their trust in Mother Nature by slaughtering the females for their meat and skin and harvest the eggs that they have laid. If that is not enough, fueled by our greed to become the most developed nation if the world; a sea port is coming up right in the vicinity of the nesting area of these turtles. The Tata’s claim that the Port limits of the upcoming Dhamra port is outside the turtle nesting area as well as the National Marine Sanctuary and the Bhitarkanika National Park. Greenpeace disagrees saying that the Tata’s should suspend the dredging work at the port for an independent and comprehensive threat assessment, which the Tata’s had agreed to earlier “in principle.” Despite the concern expressed by the authorities [you can read about it here], the Tata’s have been adamant.

I had a lot of respect for the TATA’s. I have none now. I was proud and overwhelmed when Tata’s chairman had outlined his vision for the common man. I am ashamed now. I am ashamed of myself, my helplessness. Hypocrisy should not go unpunished. If I had the money, because it is the money that talks here in India; I could have made a difference. Working 9 hours a day, I am helpless. All I can do is to write about it and clear my GUILT.

Image sources: Free Clipart Now and National Geographic.

Sunday, May 3, 2009


Recession is an inescapable truth that all of us need to accept. But the politicians do not to seem to care! At least here in Bangalore recession does not exist (for the politicians), going by the obscene amounts those 34 ministers in the Karnataka Government have been spending on renovating their bungalows a.k.a temporary residences.

The Times Of India article on Saturday May 2, 2009 highlighted this very fact, thanks to a RTI filed by social activist Bheemappa Gundappa Gadad.

Is 3 crore rupees, spent on renovating official bungalows justified? Is it so small an amount, that these bungalows that were renovated barely a year ago by the previous government at a cost of Rs. 7.14 crore undergo renovation again? These are official bungalows, not one’s private home. Renovating those using public funds is bloody daylight robbery.

Hell, they could have divided the amount among themselves and deposited them in their secret Swiss bank accounts. Alas, the Swiss government has made it clear recently that the veil of secrecy is no more and information regarding bank accounts will be provided. This has really stirred a hornet’s nest in some countries, more so in India; calling for unearthing black money stashed away by politicians, babus, actors and so forth.

So why stash the monies, when you can lead a lavish life, king style by spending them!

There was more to come as I came across another article, this time by the Deccan Herald saying that the Public Works Department (PWD) will be constructing bungalows measuring 10,000 sq ft to 15 ministers on a sprawling 14.20 acres of government property. At Rs 1.5 crore each, I wish I was a politician. The reason was that these ministers were living in rented accommodation. So what? Does one become a politician only if he is given a bungalow? What’s wrong with rented accommodation?

Is it really necessary? After-all, the only thing they (the corrupt ones) are good at is looting public money. Why bother with giving them bungalows? I guess we are so busy with our lives, slaving our asses off every day that we do not have the time to question the plundering netas. Why do we even bother to vote for them?

Sometimes I really wish that India was not a democratic nation. But that “sometimes” is usually once in a ‘blue moon.’ Three cheers to democracy.

Thursday, April 23, 2009


There Is No Such Thing As A Free Lunch.

It was the day when we had our fingers’ marked with ink as we had just cast our ballot. Yes. It is election time here in India. The Indian government had declared a holiday. Unfortunately it was not a holiday for me as the company for which I work for couldn’t afford to declare a holiday, considering the time bound, outsourced business it is into. To be fair, the company had asked the employees who had a broadband internet connection at home, to work from home. The company had also insisted that we exercise our right to vote and come in late to the office. Meanwhile other companies had said [according to certain news reports] that their employees will be compensating for the lost of a working day by putting in hours on a Saturday. I have a broadband connection at home, but the frequent unscheduled power cuts makes’ it impossible for me to work from home.

So here we are, a bunch of work-a-holics smashing away on our keyboards when a colleague of mine walks past and remarks “ If ever there was such a thing called as free lunch, that was it.” I pointed out that we had already paid for that lunch by working on a holiday. In other words we had earned it. My colleague had just enjoyed a sumptuous lunch which was sponsored by the company, prompting a chain of thoughts.

Catering to overseas clients, sometimes we need to compromise, owing to cultural differences and of course the age old saying – The customer is the king. By downing its shutters and providing lunch for its employees, the company obviously had a lot to gain for. By requesting employees not to venture out, the company was only making sure that no undue attention was drawn towards itself on a holiday. The official explanation was to prevent any untoward incident from happening. Providing the employees a sumptuous lunch was a gesture drawn towards easing any resentment an employee might posses [like working on a holiday].

I am pretty sure that there is no such thing as a free lunch.

Image Source: Free Clipart Now

Monday, April 13, 2009

Ahoy, me hearties! Hear me out.

Back those days, I mean really old days; being a Pirate was an exiting way of life. The adventure, the thrill of venturing into the unknown seas, looting, killing, women and most importantly Gold; beckoned many into this profession. But only a few were successful. Some of them are still remembered and have become legends.

It is said that the oldest recorded piracy dates back to1350 BC. Port Royal (Jamaica),
Ile de la Tortue or Tortuga (modern Haiti) and the Isle of Madagascar are quite famous as the popular hangouts of pirates. Tortuga more so; because of the movie: “The pirates of the Caribbean.” The success of the movie shows how we all love to be a pirate and lead that enchanted life, away from our boring jobs that are right now being threatened by recession.

However, the Somalian pirates have become the scourge of the nations. We like our pirates only in the movies. In reality, we would love to strap every one of them to torpedoes and send them back to Davy Jones Locker!

These modern pirates attack cargo ships in small boats, launched from a mother vessel nearby. These cargo ships are generally sparsely crewed and most of them do not carry arms, making them sitting ducks. These Somalian pirates, armed with guns, rocket launchers hijack such cargo vessels and dock them at Somalian ports. Hence rescue operations cannot enter the Somalian waters; the pirates rig the cargo vessel with crude bombs and threaten to blow it and kill the crew and the Somalian Government [if there is one] is toothless. The nations and sometimes the companies, to which the cargo vessel and the crew belong, pay a hefty ransom to free their crew and cargo.

When we objectively look at this issue from one side, we see the struggling people of Somali trying all possible means to earn themselves a livelihood. In the absence of a viable economy and the success that others have found in piracy, more people are opting to become a pirate. Working out a ground solution resulting in peace and stability in Somalia can turn out to be an effective solution against not only piracy, but also the civil war that has been ravaging the region.

In the meantime a lot of nations have joined hands to patrol the troubled region with warships, providing a semblance of security to the vessels plying there. Unfortunately, that has been woefully adequate as more warships are needed to patrol millions of square kilometers. There has been little success and the piracy rate has dropped, but that is not enough. The recent attack on a U.S. vessel proved just that.

While digging information, I came across an interesting piece of information regarding the U.S. USA had turned to pirates to help thwart Britain when the country had declared its independence. The vicious circle has come full as the U.S. is now bristling with anger at the brazenness of the attack by pirates against its vessel. I couldn’t help notice another issue that currently involves the U.S. The CIA and ISI had provided arms to Afghans in the 80’s helping them resist the Soviet invasion. Now the Americans are leading the fight against the very same people that it had supported decades ago.

As usual we wait for the U.S. to decide that enough is enough and take stringent measures against these pirates. In the meantime, piracy as a profession is quite tempting, at least to the Somalians.

Friday, April 10, 2009

Google Search Conked Out Again!

It is surprising that these “We’re sorry…” error messages have become frequent in nature. The systems and networks (at the place where I work) have been scanned and reported clean.

At least the bookmarked Google searches are working fine. This seems to be happening only for fresh web searches.

Over to Google…

Sunday, April 5, 2009

Conflict Minerals and Rape

Over the past week, I came across several articles on the urgent need to ban “conflict minerals” from the Democratic Republic of Congo. I had heard about “conflict diamonds,” but “conflict minerals” was something new. As usual I started digging for more information.

I went over to Wikipedia for a short, quick history lesson on Congo. Then I read the Associated Press article [] that was responsible for the buzz on conflict minerals. The fodder for the cannon was provided by a report titled "Can You Hear Congo Now?" by John Prendergast, founder of the Enough Project.[]

The civilian war in D R Congo is the deadliest war since the World War II. Armed rebel groups, bandits, the Congolese army and the government are after the minerals that are found abundantly in the region. Unfortunately all the above mentioned groups have been using one horrible tool/weapon of war to gain control – Rape!

Rape has become a common weapon to gain and control territories, to break family and social structures, to induce shame and fear, to humiliate and establish hierarchy of power. The raping of the women of Congo is different. It is brutal.

The women are often gang raped. They get abducted and are used as sex slaves or “military wives” for a varied period of time. The women are so brutally raped that the flesh separating the bladder and rectum from the vagina is torn apart. This is because the gang rape is often followed by mutilation of their genitals. The mutilation is usually caused by inserting rusty guns, sticks, torches or bayonets. There have been instances where the perpetrators have inserted guns inside the vagina and fired bullets.

The women are so brutally raped and mutilated to the extent that they will not be able to have children again or become incontinent. The first person accounts of the survivors who managed to escape captivity are truly horrifying. Some of the women have been gang raped in front of their family members and have helplessly watched as their family members are killed in front of their eyes.

A surgeon in Panzi, who reconstructs tissue damaged by such mutilation, recalls one horrifying spectacle of a 12-year-old girl who had been savagely raped by five soldiers. They had stuffed a maize cob inside her.

However, for the survivors the ordeal does not end there. Their husbands do not accept them as they have been raped, which means that they have become impure. Their families tend to ostracize them. Most of they them do not have a family to turn too as they have been murdered. Too add to their problems, most of these survivors are either pregnant or have a new born to look after [and in dire need of medical help too].

Rape in D R Congo has become so common with the conflict that more civilians are committing rapes too, and the victims are often children [sometimes as young as 11-months]. The civilians, most of them have grown up watching someone from the family being raped and perpetrators have not yet been caught and brought to justice. This has emboldened them. These people think that they too can rape and be never caught. Hence, there has been an alarming increase in rapes committed by civilians. If at all a perpetrator is caught, he can walk away scot free by bribing; sometimes as little as $10.”

I came across an article that quoted a United Nations report:

“Congolese soldiers are frequently implicated in rapes, and the Congolese government, both feeble and uninterested, has done nothing to address the problem.”

There have been instances where the soldiers steal food given to the people by aid workers.

Now here is the connection between Rape and “conflict minerals.” Many feel that Rape is a part of a destabilization covering the theft of valuable minerals.

How do we stop it? Say “NO” to conflict minerals. These are Tin, Tungsten, and Tantalum—the “3 Ts”—and Gold. According to the report by the Enough Project, conflict minerals from Central Africa are moved around the world to countries in East Asia, where they are processed into valuable metals, and then onward into a wide range of electronics products. Consumers in the United States, Europe, and Asia are the ultimate end-users of these conflict minerals, inadvertently fueling the war through the purchases of these electronics products. This trail has been well documented by the United Nations and others, according to the report.

These minerals are commonly used in cell phones, laptops, mp3 players, video games, and digital cameras.
  • Tin is used in cell phones and all electronic products as a solder on circuit boards.
  • Tantalum used to store electricity in capacitors in iPods, digital cameras and cell phones.
  • Tungsten is used to make one’s cell phone vibrate.
  • Gold is used in jewelry and as a component in electronics.
The Enough Project has written to 21 major electronic companies including Apple, Nokia, HP, and Nintendo; asking them to ensure that their products do not contain conflict minerals.

Let us make a pledge today. Say NO to Conflict Minerals. Stop RAPE.

Update: Here's a video from CBS News on the conflict in Congo and its effect on women. Thanks Shilz for sharing it with us.

Saturday, March 28, 2009

Life’s back in the fast lane!

The 2009 Formula one couldn’t have started any better! For the first time (according to the official website) complete newbies have taken over the front row. Team Brawn (Brawn GP) which at one time was not even sure that it would start this season is one-two in the season opening qualifier! Check out the official website for more information on the qualifying.

Below you will find the official calendars’ for both Moto GP and Formula One 2009 season.

2009 Moto GP Season






GRAN PREMI CINZANO DE CATALUNYA (Circuit de Catalunya) - 14 June

ALICE TT ASSEN (Assen) - 27 June

RED BULL U.S. GRAND PRIX (Laguna Seca) - 05 July


BRITISH GRAND PRIX (Donington Park) - 26 July




GRANDE PREMIO DE PORTUGAL (Estoril) - 04 October

AUSTRALIAN GRAND PRIX (Phillip Island) - 18 October


GRAN PREMIO DE LA COMUNITAT VALENCIANA (Comunitat Valenciana) - 08 November

For further information on the circuits and the official calendar, visit:

2009 FIA Formula One World Championship Race Calendar

2009 FORMULA 1 ING AUSTRALIAN GRAND PRIX (Melbourne) 27 - 29 Mar


2009 FORMULA 1 CHINESE GRAND PRIX (Shanghai) 17 - 19 Apr



FORMULA 1 GRAND PRIX DE MONACO 2009 (Monte Carlo) 21 - 24 May

2009 FORMULA 1 ING TURKISH GRAND PRIX (Istanbul) 05 - 07 Jun

2009 FORMULA 1 SANTANDER BRITISH GRAND PRIX (Silverstone) 19 - 21 Jun


FORMULA 1 ING MAGYAR NAGYDIJ 2009 (Budapest) 24 - 26 Jul


2009 FORMULA 1 ING BELGIAN GRAND PRIX (Spa-Francorchamps) 28 - 30 Aug




FORMULA 1 GRANDE PREMIO DO BRASIL 2009 (Sao Paulo) 16 - 18 Oct

2009 FORMULA 1 ETIHAD AIRWAYS ABU DHABI GRAND PRIX (Yas Marina Circuit) 30 Oct - 01 Nov


Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Celebration of Life!

Death is sometimes a punishment, often a gift; to many it has been a favor.

A beautiful death is for people who have lived like animals to die like angels.

What a wretched life it was, his final moments prolonged. He resembled an angel though, after he had died. But life was hell until that final moment.

Old age is a certainty. I guess he spent his last few years wondering about his death. He must have recognized the ominous signs when his vision started to fail. Strength was slowly sapping away from his body. He yearned for comfort, love and care but of no avail. He was on his own.

After having traveled far and wide in his prime, I wonder what went through his mind when he was confined to his bed; the whole world had shrunken to a few meters from his bed.

Being a chain smoker, I was surprised to find that he no longer derived pleasure in smoking. He would put the stub out after a few drags from it. The floor around his bed used to be littered with half burnt stubs. It was unusual for a chain smoker to not finish his stub.

He abstained from eating and drinking, probably hoping for a quicker end. But he had to wait. It seems that he was put on a waiting list that had quite a lot of names ahead of his!

He weakly protested when his family tried to forcibly feed him. I don’t know what caused him more anguish; the act of eating or eating itself.

His body had given up but his heart and soul were still going strong.

For whom the bell tolls,
It tolls for thee.

He certainly knew when it was his time to go. He would have probably danced with joy. The family knew too as he started to bid goodbye’s to every one.

He died like an angel, in his sleep. It was like some one had done a huge favor.

They say that a person’s entire life flashes before his eyes when the moment comes.

I call it the final celebration of life because there is no more life after you die.

Thursday, March 12, 2009

Remote controlled McLaren Formula One car!

Have you ever dreamed about driving a formula one car?

Yes you can (if you manage to get your hands on the phone and the car!). What's wicked is that you can remote control a formula one car using you phone! The video shows a scale model of an McLaren Formula One car being driven across a track in the beginning. This impresses the guys at McLaren and they build a full scale model car that can be controlled by a phone via Bluetooth.

Apparently this seems to be a ad campaign by Vodafone featuring its flagship model – Blackberry Storm.

Enjoy the video!

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Peapod vs. Volt

Touted as a competitor for Chevy Volt, Peapod is a really cute electric vehicle from the stables of  Chrysler’s new division: Peapod Mobility. Retailing for around $12,500, the Peapod is available for online order from April 22 onwards.

In the meantime Chevy Volt is slated to launch on November 10, 2010 and probably setting you back by $40,000. The Volt is anything but Peapod in terms of looks.

For more information on the Peapod, click here.

Likewise for Chevy’s Volt, click here.

Saturday, February 28, 2009

Nano Slated To Launch In March. Bookings From April!

I have read somewhere that if you wish for something with all your heart, then the entire universe conspires to get your wish fulfilled. This was also a dialogue in one of the Bollywood films.

After being booted out of Bengal, courtesy of Mamata Banerjee on behalf of the poor farmers (you can read all about that here), Nano had found a foster home in Gujarat. I guess Ratan Tata’s vision [or should I call it a dream] was stronger than those with mis-placed [vested!] interests.

Tata Motors has announced that its flagship product Nano will be launched at a function in Mumbai on March 23, 2009.

Nano has fired up the imagination of Indians like never before. Tata Motors has said that its Nano website has received 30 million plus hits in a year. People displaying such an interest in a brand that is yet to be launched, would be every marketing team’s dream come true! However, it cannot be ignored that this was helped partly by the Singur issue.

I hope the Nano doesn’t face anymore hiccups.

Thanks to Google, I have found out that it was Paulo Coelho who said: “When you want something, the entire universe conspires in helping you to achieve it.”

Saturday, February 21, 2009

ZTE Unveils Its Solar Powered Phone At The Mobile World Congress

If CES was a whirlwind of a show, then the GSMA’s Mobile World Congress in Barcelona is like cruising along an open road on a Stretch Limo.

I know that the comparison sounds bad, but I cannot get anything better out of my head today. It is a Saturday and I shouldn’t even be sitting in front of my computer.

Even though the industry moaned that this years CES was muted with recession in the background; for someone like me trawling through the internet for news, CES was a whirlwind. Too many announcements and showcases were crammed in 4 days.

In comparison though, the GSMA Mobile World Congress was a cruise. According to a press release put out by the event organizers; the conference boasted of  55,000 plus visitors, more than 230 chief executives and other high-level speakers and 8,000 plus delegates. Good turnout in spite of the recession.

What had caught my attention was the solar powered mobile phone from Samsung. However, later I came to know of an announcement that ZTE too had come with a solar powered mobile phone! Thanks to an article on CNET.

Digicel Group unveiled the Coral-200-Solar, manufactured by ZTE using proprietary technology from Intivation. It was being touted as “the world’s first low-cost solar-powered mobile phone.” Digicel said that it will deploy the Coral-200-Solar in selected markets from June.

Another relief was an announcement from an association of handset makers and operators pledging to develop a 'universal' charger. Which means that by 2012, newly manufactured phones would come with the 'one-size-fits-all' energy efficient charger. It would result in a 50 percent reduction in standby power consumption, and the new chargers will be three times more energy efficient than most on the market today.

I have one question though. Why did they wait all these years to come with such a concept? It would have saved us a lot of trouble if they had come up with something like that earlier.

Friday, February 13, 2009

Solar Powered Touch Screen Mobile Phone Made From Recycled Water Bottles!

Now does the latter part of the headline sound familiar? Motorola had announced something similar during CES. But this one from Samsung has more than a trick up its sleeve.

Called the “Blue Earth,” Samsung claims that it is a fully solar powered touch screen phone. Blue Earth is made from recycled plastic called PCM, which is extracted from water bottles and is free from Brominated Flame Retardants, Beryllium and Phthalate. I did not know that these substances would have been used normally otherwise.

Screen brightness, backlight duration and Bluetooth can be set to an energy-efficient mode called the ‘Eco mode’.

The phone also features an ‘eco walk’ function that enables the user to count their steps with an in-built pedometer, calculating how much CO2 emissions have been reduced by walking as opposed to motor transport. Samsung claims that through this unique function users’ can calculate the value of their footprint through the number of trees that have been saved. It did not make sense and I was left wondering how I would save trees by walking.

The packaging for Blue Earth is made from recycled paper, and comes with a 5 star energy efficient charger which uses standby power lower than 0.03W.

Blue Earth will be showcased at the Mobile World Congress 2009 for the first time.

Motorola, I hope you do realize how far you are lagging behind. Am I being too optimistic by expecting a Phoenix like revival?

Source: Samsung

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Modern Day Iteration Of Aladdin’s Magic Carpet!

I couldn’t come up with a crazier headline, but this should suffice for now. If you can think of something even crazier, feel free to comment.

A British Company called Hoverit Limited has come with a nice, futuristic sounding concept of a ‘hovering chair.’

The concept uses the simple repelling force of magnets that gives the feeling of floating on air as one sits on the chair. It is called ‘the Lounger’ and currently retails at a promotional price of £5,875 GBP (almost 40 grand INR). The company’s website says that it usually retails at Usual price £7,500 GBP. So make use of this promotional offer if you are planning to buy one.

The Lounger weighs around 90 Kg and measures 2m x 1m x 1m.

Do not forget to read the safety disclaimer on the Hoverit’s website.

Source: Hoverit

Monday, February 9, 2009

Politicians’ Love & Hate Affair With The Media

It is really disgusting, the manner in which the politicians have turned Karnataka into a battleground of sorts. It is quite understandable when there are two different parties [long time foes] presiding at the State and the Center, respectively.

What is beyond my imagination is the levels to which they are willing to stoop, unmindful of their highly exalted positions.

The State home minister V S Acharya had earlier hinted at bringing in some measures to gag the media, blaming it for blowing up the Mangalore incident out of proportion. Media did receive some flak from some prominent writers for not informing the police about the incident and the undue publicity given to the Ram Sena hooligans.

I do agree to an extent that such hooligans craving for some publicity should not be interviewed by the news channels and any threats made by them should be immediately reported to the police. However, it is the other way round here. The police gets to know about the news from the media. And they do nothing, as they wait for orders from the higher-ups. In fact, the entire police and justice system is flawed. In hindsight, I guess the media has done a good Samaritan by publishing the threats, allowing the public to take precautionary measures well in advance.

While the State Home Minister is thinking about gagging the media, the Indian Home Minister P. Chidambaram has used the media to deliver the message that the Ram Sena is a threat to the country and the Centre is watching its activities with great concern. Correct me if I am wrong. When a group threatens the rights of the people enshrined in the constitution, should the Indian Home Minister issue sound bytes to the media that the Center is watching and such crap? You might as well send those hooligans an Archie’s Greeting Card. The intelligence agencies should have swung in immediately and shut down the group. But that is like asking for the moon here in India.

If all this makes one feel helpless, then what about the slugfest between the Union
minister for women and child development Renuka Chowdhury and Karnataka chief minister B S Yeddyurappa. They have been using the media to air their differences, looking like school children blaming each other at the Principal’s office.

I guess Bangaloreans need to prepare themselves for yet another long soap opera played out in the print media after Valentine’s Day.

Wednesday, February 4, 2009

Google Search Blocked!

It is not every time that you will come across an news article on Google screwing up.

Few days ago, I had read that all of Google’s searches were classified as malware and it was fixed within an hour.

Google had apologized that this was due to an human error and “processes had been put in place to avoid a repeat.” The phrase did sound familiar and later realized that my manager uses that quite often when we screw up.

But today, google searches were not happening. An error message said that the search query looked similar to automated requests from a computer virus or spyware application. You can click on the image for the rest of the error message.

What’s happening Google?

Monday, February 2, 2009

Bentley Too!

With major car manufacturers’ harping on eco-friendly measures nowadays, there are no prizes for guessing the catalyst behind it. Yes, it is the recession that has hastened the adoption of such measures.

Bentley does not want to be left behind and has staked claim for its share of spotlight. Not that it receives any, but it did pique my interest.

Bentley has put up a teaser about its upcoming model ‘The Extreme Bentley’ on its website.

According to Bentley, the Extreme will feature a FlexFuel powertrain, which means that the engine can either run on biofuel or use petrol, depending on the circumstances.

There is a video too as a part of the elaborate teaser. I guess the car would be unveiled sometime around March 2009.

Way to go Bentley. You have figured the perfect formula to survive the recession - The world’s costliest eco-friendly car!

For more information, click here.

Friday, January 30, 2009

Bangalore Chief Minister Wants To Ban Pub Culture In Karnataka!

Close on the heels of the heinous attack on women by the Ram Sena morons; our very own Chief Minister B S Yeddyurappa has decried the ‘pub culture’ saying, "We will not allow pub culture in Karnataka.” He has also refused to ban the morons, blaming dirty politics.

Dear Mr. Chief Minister, how about banning the following as they too are not part of our culture:
  • Ban cell phones and revert to the good old Post Office system.
  • Ban transportation (including buses, cars, two wheelers, metros, aero planes and trains) and use bullock carts.
  • Ban shopping centers and malls and depend on Government’s ration shops for our needs.
  • Ban all clothing brands and make ‘khadi’ the official dress code for Karnataka.
  • Ban all kinds of sports except kho-ko, hockey, wrestling and kabbadi.
  • Ban pucca houses and start living in huts.
  • Ban hospitals and depend on ayurveda and witch medicine.
  • Ban television, computers, play stations, music players, film theaters’ and every conceivable form of entertainment and immerse ourselves in folk songs, Yakshagana and Byalatta.
  • How about making farming compulsory for everyone in Karnataka, so that there will be no more working in the call centers, BPO’s and other industries.
Ohh…did I forget? How about banning the political system and revert back to the good old system of Kings and Kingdoms. Are you willing to give up your seat Mr. Chief Minister? Or will you play coy and pass the buck to the next government, cause there is no way you will be re-elected.

I am pretty certain that you will think about banning a lot more things other than those listed above.

Bangalore has been renowned as: The Garden City, The Ham Radio Capital of India, Pub Capital of India and the feather in the cap “IT and BT Capital of India.”

We do not want dirty politics/politicians, moral brigades, corrupt government officials, pollution, encroachment of lakes and cutting down of trees. Can you ban any one of these Mr. CM? If you do, you will be in contention for the Nobel Prize!

Save Bangalore.

Monday, January 26, 2009

India Shines On Its 60th Republic Day Celebrations!

The Constitution of India came into effect on January 26, 1950. Henceforth, this day has been celebrated as The Republic Day in India. It is a national holiday.

Today India celebrated its 60th anniversary of becoming a Republic under the watchful eyes of our President, Pratibha Patil.

While back in Mangalore, pub revelers at “Amnesia” were beaten up by the activists of a self appointed, moral watchdog – The Ram Sena.

What a beautiful contrast!

We have a woman president presiding over the Republic Day celebrations in the capital while women were molested and beaten up by the Ram Sena activists in Mangalore.

The news channels, throughout the day replayed this ghastly incident. The fact that most of the perpetrators were young was disturbing. The incident that was played on the news channels showed women being shoved around, slapped, molested and beaten up.

I can not imagine how some soul-less people appoint themselves as moral watchdogs. I can not imagine why the government allowed such groups to mushroom in the first place.

But what I can not understand is how the media news channels came to know of the incident as they were there on the scene, to capture it. If the media was there capturing the incident, why wasn’t the police there too! Did the media, desperately looking for content, did not inform the police? What has happened to the moral obligations of Mass Media?

When rogue groups like Ram Sena indulge in such activities to garner fame followed by political clout, why is the government taking its own sweet time to react? Such groups should be banned and action needs to be taken in order to prevent similar incidents from happening elsewhere. A precedent has to be set.

India should not allow itself to be Talibanised. We do not want groups like RSS, Bajrang Dal, MNS, Ram Sena and the likes dictate to us on our lifestyle. It is about time the government quits dilly-dallying and takes stern measures. These organizations should be declared as terrorist organizations as they terrorize people.

Image Source:

Sunday, January 25, 2009

Shelby Building An Electric Supercar?

What do you get when one puts an “electric powertrain” into the “World’s fastest production car?” The “World’s fastest production electric car.”

The Guinness World Records has already certified that Shelby’s Ultimate Aero TT supercar is the fastest production car in the world with a speed in excess of 412 km/h (256.14 mph).

With that record in that bag, Shelby is aiming for another. This time it’s the “World’s fastest production electric car.” Shelby is planning to incorporate its “All Electric Scalable Powertrain” into the Ultimate Aero super car pictured above. Shelby feels that this model will act as a high visibility outlet to demonstrate the capabilities of its new Green powertrain. The new electric car has been dubbed as the Ultimate Aero EV.

Basically Shelby is out there trying to prove that electric powered vehicles will not only match but also provide more linear power (electric motors have 100% torque at 0 RPM) and overall performance than internal combustion cars.

According to Shelby, the Ultimate Aero EV can cough up an astounding 1000 hp and 800 lbft of torque enabling it to rocket to 60 mph in a mere 2.5 seconds and reach a top speed of 208 mph. The Ultimate Aero EV will have a range of 150-200 miles on a single charge, with its patented onboard charging system that will recharge the battery completely in 10 minutes on a 220V line. The car will sport a 3 speed automatic transmission rendering shift times of .24 seconds. The entire AESP is liquid cooled allowing it to run for extended periods of time at peak performance with no overheating issues.

Shelby expects to roll out its first full scale, pre production Ultimate Aero EV in the second quarter of 2009. Ultimate Aero EV deliveries will start as early as fourth quarter 2009.

For further reading, please click here.

Source: Shelby Supercars