Writing is like T20 batting. If you block, you might as well retire to the pavilion! -- Pete Langman
Expat in Germany

Tuesday, December 30, 2014

For Our Eyes Only!

I don't know if the world is scientifically "advanced" right now or if we are using science and technology just for a luxurious life. We actually do not know if the science we have is really advanced. So much to explore. So many possibilities. We have to keep our eyes open. Read nature and explore it. Because there is so much to find out. One life is not enough. It takes generations. Milena. To carry the legacy forward. The legacy of understanding, exploring.

The character that separates humans from other species is the ability to be curious. The capacity to explore. The art of skepticism. We are not blind at heart. Humans did not start blind. They explored, broad minded. Atleast I feel that they did. Because they were not complicated socially, like we are.Today! Architecture, engineering, astronomy, warfare, social behavior. Man developed himself. Or did he? Did he complicate himself? So complicated that man had to understand himself instead of the nature. Thus, social behavior brought in castism, racism and religion, glorifying and adoring humans instead of nature; creating persona to represent human greatness. Warfare brought in new, deadly inventions which were used to protect religions and human beliefs.

No wonder now we fight over who did better in everything. Religions have so much in common. Yet, we fight over which is better. Ancient scientists had so much in common. Yet, we are fighting over who fared better in research. The Upanishads might have talked about the Heisenberg Uncertainity Principle but we have to realise that it was Heisenberg who carried the legacy of those great books forward and became a major reason for Quantum Mechanics studies to be continued at a large scale. If not for him, probably we would not be doing "Re"search in that area. The uncertainity principle that the Upanishads talked about would be left behind in those yellowing pages!! I don't think a Rajnath Singh would be working on the topic.

Science as we know never had any boundaries nor it has right now. So, it is a wrong thing to stake claim over some work. How can then people not recognise the work of ancient Indians? While it is true that we should carry on research on aeronautics instead of just blabbering about the fact that ancient Indians did work on Vimana Sastra, we should acknowledge the work they started. The west has realised the works of Archimedes, Pythagoras, Euclid etcetera and are working on what they started, giving them good credit. Why are we Indians, less than the world (other countries are concentrating better on ancient Indian science more than the Indians) are failing to carry forward the legacy left behind by age old Indian scientists?

I feel that the problem occurs because ancient Indian science is associated with religion. Not everybody thinks like Dr.Abdul Kalam and follows the scientific achievements without a religious eye. Archimedes and Euclid are not associated with any religion and Christian, Jew and any other scientist in the modern world follows their science equally. Why is that people associate Indian science with religion is surprising. Is it because an Indian renaissance has not yet occured? Or have we missed the renaissance due to pure laziness for which we are known for?? For perks, if we believe in the art of skepticism, we should not blindly believe in God and we should not blindly not believe in God too, right??

Monday, December 22, 2014

A Process of Causing Something to Change...

That is the dictionary meaning of conversion! The most trending word in our country right now! Nope, not hunger, not development, not Katrina Kaif, not Sachin and not even ISL or New year 2015. Everybody, including the Allahabad high court is interested in this, most important of them, the media and the press. Crucial, relevant bills to be passed in the parliament are kept aside and religious unions are protesting!
Not the religion...the newspaper!

According to the article 25 of Sovereign India's constitution, citizens of India can practice, preach and propagate their faith without disrupting general public order. It is known that several states have passed anti-conversion bills and anti-illegal conversion bills. But all these were long ago and are quite useless and have lots of loopholes. I say, they are "vote bank bills" set to satisfy a certain fixed group of voters political parties have. But the question is, why now? Are thousands of people not being converted into Christianity every year? Why did no one raise questions then? Why Christianity, are people not being "re-converted" to Hinduism every year? It would be a joke if the recent "ghar wapsi" in Agra is first of its kind. All these religious businesses have been happening for centuries, right from when the missions and missionaries set their targets! Does the opposition political parties want a deviation or what?

Power and religion go together so much! Maybe that is why most Gods and prophets chosen to be worshipped were kings, centers of power. Ram, Krishna, Buddha, Jesus, Mohammed and countless others! The church is probably the most powerful thing on the planet right now with its head trying to capture the hearts of non believers with stupid remarks for which even the lamest person would laugh. No, I am not criticising any religion nor am I against any. Just when most religions are derivatives of something (the Abrahamic ones) or have prophets, heroes, stories and rituals in common, whats the point in being under different names and still in practice do the same kind of worship? At most the difference in different religions is you get to eat or not eat certain food items. That is all.

Keeping aside the reason for conversions, what is the big necessity for political parties to make it a key issue now in the parliament especially when there are important things to deal with? I smell a dead rat, a conspiracy! And when asked for anti conversion bill, the opposition is now calm ans not surprisingly, churches are wary. They are protesting an anti-conversion bill. There is a National United Christian Forum apparently and these people wrote a letter to the prime minister to not allow anti conversion bill. Hey, is it not good to remember Christmas even in the government as a good governance day? How on Earth would that take away the importance of Christmas? It only gives more importance. Why protest for everything the government does?

True, many a times the family of the ruling party have lost control over their knowledge and what they were speaking. Personally, I did not so like the speech by the prime minister himself at a hospital inauguration though he might have given the speech to match the situation. However, that was the cue! Who cares if Heisenberg uncertainity principle WAS known to ancient Indians? How many modern Indians are working as good as Heisenberg did? And the Gita does not change its charm if it becomes a national scripture or an International scripture. Though the statements carried enough amount of stupidity with them, governance need not be interrupted because of them!

It is the politicians who need to convert into true representatives of the country. True, secularism is the country's identity now. It can never be touched and we should all take utmost care of it lest we don't want to become like some of our neighbours. The upper house members should realise that they are not there only to oppose any bill the government considers important and that there are more important matters to discuss!
Those who voted people to power expect development irrespective of whether the concerned representative is in the government or not! And of course the media. Do you not know that conversions happened, are happening and will happen? When lakhs of people were converted earlier, did that news appear on the front page? Now daily, the front page is dedicated to VHP!! Cm'on, you are giving them free publicity! Stop this nonsense.
Don't disrupt, deliver!

Sunday, December 14, 2014

Ride Parallel to the Bay of Bengal

The best time to visit Tamil Nadu is now. Winter time. Especially those with dry skin can spend their expenses on moisturisers on a simple trip of three days to Chennai-Mahabalipuram-Puducherry. There will be not many hitches, at least I did not experience any when I went for the trip with my friends. The only criterion is that one should be patient, energetic and cool. A budget tour with lots of fun is surely possible.

Day 1: Chennai
One thing, don't ask about accommodation in Chennai. I do not know. I have got a friend there so accommodation problem never occurred to me. Okay, starting the day at around 8 AM, there are more than enough places to see in Chennai for one day. We went to the Mylapore tank and the 17th century temple adjacent to it. This Shiva temple was built long ago but was demolished by the Portugese 500 years ago. It is as old as Ptolemy times and finds mention in the great Greek's scriptures for his world map, probably. We then went to the Egmore museum and went back in time with all the excavated sculptures of Hindu, Jain and Buddhist gods and goddesses from different periods in and around Andhra Pradesh-Karnataka-Tamil Nadu. The tour of the entire museum comprising of these stone and bronze sculptures, coins, stamps and the biology section (some stuffed animals!) will not allow you to walk away from the museum so easily.
We had lunch from a nearby restaurant and went to the Marina beach.  Yes, we went at about four in the evening and it was not hot. San Thome Church was next. It is one of the three Basilicas to be built on the tomb of an apostle (is what is written there). His relics are here, apparently. A stone sculpture of the gilder he used to move a tree is here in the museum attached to the church.
We had enough for the day though there was a lot of time left.

The beautiful Marina beach..don't worry about the persons in the photo

Day 2: Pondicherry
Early in the morning (that's 10 for me). From the Koyembedu mossufil bus stand in Chennai, there are quite a lot of buses to Pondicherry and the travel time is about four hours. The ride is quite on the ECR route which runs parallel to the beach and over the many lagoons formed into the mainland. In Pondicherry, importantly, don't be bothered by the heat, if any, have lunch in Pondicherry and go to the "White town". With some persuasion, if you are young men, and with many assurances, accommodation at the Aurobindo Ashram guest house can be obtained. The lady there was a very nice person. We did not let you down momma!!
The "Life of Pi" bridge in Pondicherry
The beach road is exquisite. A fifteen minute trip to and in the Aurobindo Ashram was what we managed before we spent the whole evening roaming on the streets in the French section of Pondicherry. Well, I do not know if I might go to Mumbai, forget France. So we saw Paris in Pondicherry. We could have rented cycles to see more of the place but missed the timings. Beware!

Day 3: Mahabalipuram

The "Old" Mahabalipuram temple
Mahabalipuram is an old sea port for the Pallavas and Cholas. It enroute Chennai-Pondicherry. So while returning to Chennai, we stopped by for sometime. Seriously, half a day is not at all enough to see this place as is a paragraph not enough to describe it. I heard that one more town was excavated nearby after the 2004 Tsunami. We did not get the chance to visit that place. Forget that place, we did not completely see the town of Mahabalipuram. Even though I visited it earlier, I felt it new. Great job by the Archealogical Survey of India in protecting the UNESCO Heritage sites really well, especially with the strong currents and salty winds threatening the remaining structures which did not sink into the sea.
Also, it was here that I had banana bajji after one and a half year of wait!

Mahabalipuram relics, maintained well..Now!
The three days went on coolly and hastle-free. A week trip in and around Chennai in the Kancheepuram district might be ideal to properly see everything there. The public transport is quite good.

Sunday, December 7, 2014

Authentically Ethnic!

"Tell me, is there any restaurant in Hyderabad which serves authentic Hyderabadi vegetarian food!" I dropped my spoon. Hyderabad and vegetarian? That too authentic. I looked at the zeera rice I was eating and wondered if it was even authentic to India. I couldn't care less. I just like it and I am eating it.

Then followed the comments. "This guy says he likes Hyderabad and doesn't know any local food." Does there need to be some authentic food item to the place to love it.

For instance, do I, being from Guntur, need to be proud of the red chilli or cotton or tobacco production there? True. According to the area and the availability of resources, there are certain things unique to that place. There might be places where there is nothing unique to it. That makes the place no less special. I love Hyderabad because of the cultural mixture of the city. Nowhere in the country, I can tell you that you find such a diverse mix of people. Maybe the reason is the deccan area. It is neither North India nor exactly the south of India. Naturally, one can find a find a mixture of all Indians in Hyderabad like nowhere else.

The double ka meetha..originally from Hyderabad :P

Hyderabad cuisine has a lot to offer and I never really bothered to know if it was unique to the city. Appam originated in Kerala. Pesarattu originated in Andhra Pradesh. I will sit in Hyderabad and eat both. And does it matter that puli-hora originated in Andhra Pradesh as puli derived from pulupu meaning sour and hora derived from origam meaning rice and is now hijacked by other states into saying its their creation? It is still the same recipe and I enjoy it if it is made tasty. I regularly go to a cafe in Lingampally in Hyderabad with my friends and enjoy the Irani-chai with biscuit osmania there. I never even cared to wonder why Irani-chai is "authentic" to Hyderabad. In fact, if I ever live somewhere outside Hyderabad, I would love it if someone sells irani-chai there. I like the item and don't link the food item to a particular place. In fact, when I was in Bengaluru and Thiruvananthapuram, I struggled to find food I really liked. This authentic food - business is just a marketing strategy followed by the restaurants to increase their sales. I won't fall for it.  

Irani chai with osmania biscuit

Dating back to the independence time, we divided ourselves based on religion. After attaining freedom, going back in time, as old as from 1953, we have been further dividing ourselves into smaller states. If in the beginning it was linguistic differences, it later turned into tribal clashes, terrain based, infrastructure and development, real estate and mainly political needs. Do we still need further bias based on food? I don't think so.

FootNote: This doesn't stop me or anyone in general from searching for Vada pav in Pune, Bhel Puri in Mumbai, Dhokla in Gujarat, Puchka in Kolkata or the famous Dum Biriyani in Hyderabad.

Friday, November 28, 2014

Let the Sportive Spirit be High!!

Another tragedy hit the sporting community. It is indeed very sad and painful that a young cricketer has lost his life for the love of the game, during the game. Most shocking for the bowler because of this unfortunate event. Philip Hughes has been a very promising cricketer. The injury is a complicated one and I hope, like Farhan Akthar who tweeted the same, for mental peace of Sean Abbott who bowled the bouncer which proved to be deadly for Phil, the Australian south-paw. The video is extremely disturbing and it is in one sense nice to know that medical attention was provided immediately to him.

This is a blow to humanity. Sports have kept many countries in a friendly rivalry, have in most cases avoided wars, though sometimes they did start wars. But sports is a main tool to being friendly. That is the use of sports. Sports should never be considered a religion because they are better than religions. If religion defies science, sports in every sense follow science. As a student of physics, I am pretty awed by the physics of sports, be it cricket, football or FormulaOne. I am a Rafael Nadal fan. His play is what makes me friends with hundreds others in the world who are his fans. Makes me discuss and debate with thousands others who are Roger Federer's fans. But the common thing we have is, we love tennis, we love sports. This spirit should remain in our hearts. In our blood.

For the love of cricket!

Last year, a cricketer died. This year another. More so in F1. Jules Bianchi is still in a critical condition after his accident in Japan in early October. Such unfortunate incidents should only bring us closer to sports, and to each other than to keep us away from playing. Yes, the question about safety occurs. Why do we play with a hard cricket ball? Why do we not have a regulation on the speed of the car while racing. etc.. But no, it is not about playing cricket in a space suit. People have to be careful, yes. There should be protection. Maximum possible protection. But all these should not scare us from playing. Here, the stress is on playing. Terrible incidents happen, but we must find out ways to come out of them and keep on playing.

Outside my window in my hostel is a Eucalyptus tree which was felled to construct a bund. The tree fell in an inclination on to a rock and it was left there itself. The leaves, due to lack of nutrients and water dried up and became yellow and then brown. All this time, I have been observing the tree. I thought that is it, land of Ayurveda lost a wonderful medicinal tree. But then, a new plant started growing beside the felled one. Dying ones fade away and new ones spring. But then, two months later, I was shocked in a nice way, to see tiny green leaves on the tree. I thought they belonged to some other tree. They did not. They belonged to the same Eucalyptus which was felled. It took its time, waited patiently, dug its roots deep into the ground again and pulled water and nutrition. Yes, this is a true story.

Felled...but not fallen!!

Hughes might die and Raman Lamba might perish, Ayrton Senna might die and Jules Bianchi might be still unconscious! Micheal Schumacher might have forgotten who Schumi is!! But we must remember. They all loved the game, lived the game and still living in the form of the "sportive SPIRIT"
Let the sportive spirit live long and high, just like the Eucalyptus!! 

Friday, November 14, 2014

Meanwhile in F1

A lot in the week. If it was about Rohit Sharma and his brilliant double double ton in the country, about chess and Viswananthan Anand in the continent or the ATP tour finals in the world. It has been a busy and wonderful week for sports fans world wide. Apart from these, a very interesting season of formula one is also one. Right from beginning it has been close. Unlike the last few years where there has been not so much close racing, it is very neck to neck this year. And that too from team mates.

Lewis Hamilton and Nico Rosberg have never been a friendly pair for Mercedes team. Hamilton has already won a world championship but is junior to Rosberg at Mercedes. Naturally there is a rivalry instead of friendship and I have never seen them complimenting each other. All this reminds me of Alan Prost and Ayrton Senna at McLaren. Well, there is something with McLaren. Hamilton has won the world championship in 2008 at McLaren. But he came second in 2007.


The last race is round the corner. At Abu Dhabi. Every body is busy preparing for it very seriously. For some time now, the F1 rules have allowed double points for the point winning ten positions. Nico Rosberg, who is 17 points behind Hamilton should win the grand prix and hope Hamilton comes third lest he feel worse for losing by just three points. But it happens. Last year even Sebastian Vettel have won closely. But of all, what surprises me the most is Kimi Raikkonen and Fernando Alonso performances. I guess, they are not given proper cars with the new rules. I can only hope Ferrari gets better soon by the next year and win the championship!

And by the way, Alonso should finish atleast two places ahead of Vettel to beat him in position atleast!! 

Friday, November 7, 2014

A Kiss of Love!!..??

In the southern most state of a country belonging to the Northern hemisphere, India, the most multi-ethnic country on the Earth, where people are punished for lighting candles on the festival of lights, a couple was beaten up for hugging and kissing in a public dhabha which led to protests against 'moral policing,' very prominent in India. While standing up against beating people, this public kissing reminds me of a telugu movie, Ye Maaya Chesave in which the hero and heroine are separated for a brief period and again meet, not in India but in New York. A dialogue the hero says then is, "This is not India, we can kiss in public." A movie naturally reflects the society and its behaviour. Are we really ready to all of a sudden accept people coming out and kissing?

Agreed, the country should be socialised. How to talk, laugh, teach, dispose waste, welcome guests. This is our culture. Whilst I am happy many people now accept this, there are some people who turned violent. We are part of the most tolerant and flexible religion, not a muscle flexing religion. We say Athidhi Devo Bhava but how well are we welcoming guests in our country and giving them nice hospitality? We also say Matru Devo Bhava, Pitru Devo Bhava and Acharya Devo Bhava thus equating parents and teachers to being the supreme. How much are we respecting them? The greatness of India and its culture can be told in terms of its accommodating capabilities. Many western ideas have been incorporated into Indian thinking. Best example, the adoption of English Calender and days into Hindu Calender. In that case we should seriously have a discussion about how to socialise the nation in accordance with the international situation. One should not walk on Indian roads with folded hands and bent head whereas in, say, Germany with hands over a girl's shoulder. Being a Roman in Rome is fine but in what sense should also be thought of.
How right is it to use the public toilets, throw waste in waste bins and buy ticket for using public transport in the United States but do exactly the opposite in India!!?? H.E.Dr.Abdul Kalam requested every Indian exactly the same.

An Urgent need for socialising the country!!

That apart, maybe, as we socialise ourselves, in due course of time, probably, kissing in public might not be considered an offense. But it is now. I don't think breaking rules and defying law comes under socialisation. According to the present society and its thinking, kissing in public is still not digested and people are uncomfortable with such incidents. In the presence of kissers, others might feel really uncomfortable, irrespective of age. And then there are children. Whatever we do, we talk about future generation! Be it pollution, resource management or scientific discoveries. Children should be free to talk, play, laugh and most importantly, be curious. What answer can a parent give to HEM curious children when asked about obscene scenes. There are definitely certain things every age group should not and does not want to watch. Why else is there a censor board in the country? We, the young people are okay with anything. However, just as the violent moral policing groups cannot impose their 'no-kiss in public idea', we cannot impose our 'kiss in public' idea! Is anyone really bothered what young couples are doing in parks in the evenings? In fact there is a section in every 'public' park where the moral police can find enough people to fight a battle. There are certain areas where public display is uncomfortable to others. Not me, who is okay with it, not someone who is not, let the country decide if it is ready and is fine with such actions. Let there be a proper definition for freedom in public. This only comes with socialisation.

I was shocked to know that the protesters were detained, not for kissing but for not taking permission. The High Court of Kerala apparently said it does not mind kissing in public when the law says otherwise. In western countries, kissing in public may not be an offense, but they have their own ways of curbing such activities. In fact, there are kissing protests in countries like Chile and Canada for things like fee hike. That we in India used kissing protest, though illegal and aggressive, against moral policing is a step towards freedom. When the Prime Minister himself is taking excerpts from Hollywood movies for his speeches, there is nothing wrong in asking for freedom to express love. I do not say that those who feel this is right should mobilise people, win seats in the legislature and change laws. No! Just because one is in a position of power cannot make his ideology a law. Let the society think, discuss and debate as to what is culture, what is the limit of love expression in public, etc.. till then, don't kiss protest in public without permission.

A protest against G20 and G8 summit
I am still wondering as to who is responsible, the media? the protesters? or the society for successfully shifting focus from discussing about Moral Policing to discussion about whether kissing in public is right or wrong?!!?
And by the way, my friend says this is how an 80-year old thinks but not a 20-year old. For you my friend, the following
20-year old or 120-year old, one must think rationally and logically!!

Wednesday, October 29, 2014

Inheriting India

"The heir has arrived!!" A popular dialogue in Indian movies. Or probably I should say it is a popular dialogue in our country itself. Right from the dynastic times in our country! So we are used to not dream big and leave it to the children of great people to continue the good work in the respective fields. If Dhirubhai Ambani built an empire out of scratch, his two sons chopped it into pieces and distributed it between themselves. Now, two more 'heirs' have arrived. But to my knowledge, none of the 'heirs' have proved to be any good. Can the children of celebrities set examples like their parents did??

It is natural for living things to inherit traits from parents. But for us, we also inherit riches if we are rich and poverty if we are poor. We are used to dynastic practices in politics, business, sports and cinema, the four famous pillars of the country. Ramachandra Guha says, in the case of Jawaharlal Nehru, the sins of the daughter, grandsons, granddaughter-in law and great grandson have retrospectively visited on him. Being the first prime minister of India, it definitely took a lot of effort from Nehru, with the help of his team to integrate the country and bring it into a constructive mode. But the moment he gave in to his daughter's wish and dissolved a democratically elected government in the country, the screen for dynastic politics lifted. The dynasty is still there and has just been weakened. Nothing else. In such an inheritance infected country, I am not sure how long a non married chai wala can survive at the top post. Of course I cannot imagine what would have happened to the country if the Shehzada is crowned the king!

How many success stories, inspiring ones come out of Indian entrepreneurs? I can only recall 'Infosys' Narayanamurthy. Forget the Tatas. They are a different story altogether. Be it Azim Premji or the Ambanis, though they are very good and highly successful, can some one wanting to become a business tycoon really get motivated by them? In the United States every entrepreneur has #Hem own story, inspirational ones. Micheal Dell's is my favourite. How many love Abhishek Bacchan as much as Amitabh Bacchan? The 'angry young man' from Allahabad has such a great journey to glory much like Shahrukh Khan. But do the kapoors or chopras have any such odysseys?? If Kareena is not a kapoor, probably she would still be trying to get a chance to be in the dancers group in the background. It is also natural that in a house of musicians, dancers or sculptors, the off springs generally grow up to be good in those fields. But this is not at all like the cinema. You have to prove yourself. No second chances. Sunil Gavaskar can only lobby to get his son a place in the National team. It is up to Rohan Gavaskar to play and impress the selectors and audience which he could not.

Why is it becoming difficult for children of celebrities to think of doing something different from what their famous parent did? It is not difficult to chose a field. There are hundreds of opportunities. Superstar Rajnikanths daughters chose their own different jobs, occasionally coming into cinema field but Kamal Hasan's daughter chose cinema. She might be good but she got established as a 'Hasan' else probably she would be singing maybe. I will abstain myself from talking about Telugu film industry which is infested by this stupid inheritance. It is so appalling to see a father acting opposite the same heroine his son acted with earlier! Are the celebrity children unable to see any other profession in this world of opportunities??

There is one more very serious problem in this inheritance way of the famous people. If India is to be among the top countries in the world, it is high time we think about creating entrepreneurs, politicians, singers, actors, sports persons...not giving birth to them!! Government reforms will be helpful. More than that a change in general mind set will be most welcome. One should be brave to be adventurous and explore various opportunities in life. If Sachin Tendulkar's son becomes a cricketer, a cigarette manufacturer, who is a big fan of Sachin also might feel that, if his favourite cricketer's son grows up to be a cricketer, then his son also, like him should enter the cigarette business! How right is that? Everyone should have hem own success story. This should be the trend now especially with the Prime Minister claiming himself to be a poor tea seller in his childhood and climbing the political ladder by hard work. Fair Enough!!

Saturday, October 18, 2014

Come, Make in a CLEAN India

In the last few months, the broom(jhadu) has gained more popularity in our country sweeping away many other instruments which are technologically more advanced than it is. Probably after jhadu is going to be the next 'broom' in advancement from the 'Nimbus 2000' and the 'Firebolt.' From political parties to private companies, everyone is attracted to the jhadu. So much that people are fighting in associating themselves with this magical broom.
JHADU 2014

Like any other of his famous speeches, Prime Minister Narendra Modi has given a beautiful speech before launching the much acclaimed project, Swachh Bharat Abhiyaan. It is nice to see the leader going out of his way to initiate such a nice campaign. It is also very clever of him to nominate an argumentative opponent, a famous sportsperson nominated to the Rajya sabha by the opposition and a film star addressing social issues for some time now to take initiative in the Swachh Bharat mission. Narendra Modi has captured the hearts of those 'thinkers' mostly the middle class through this 'dream project.' Of course, this project has had been the dream project of many leaders but nothing much has changed until now. It is not because earlier leaders could not mesmerise people like Modi. They could. It is that people just remained mesmerised. Did nothing more!!

From 'Mahatma' Gandhi cleaning toilets to Narendra Modi cleaning roads, we have praised the leaders wh ocame forward with such actions and raised them to new heights. But do we get the message? If the leader is emphasising on a clean surrounding, that does not mean he will come and clean our surroundings. If Narendra Modi keeps the Prime Minister office clean, we should keep our classrooms/workplaces clean. Everyone of us should be involved. With a charismatic leader like Modi giving a message about cleanliness, every body in the country has taken to the streets shouldering a broom. Assuming this is not entirely for clicking pictures, one question arises, is this what is cleanliness about?

The PM wants to shift the idea of using the broom for caste discrimination to cleanliness drive. How long will we still associate cleaners with low caste (I don't understand low and high here!!) or vice versa? How long will we confine ourselves to only applauding someone who takes initiative and not ourselves do the good work? When there are people finding reasons to criticise the leader how much ever good his initiative might be; When there are people who buy coconut water and throw the empty coconut shell on the road and drive away; When there are people who so involuntarily drop off chocolate wrappers as soon as they open it; When there are people who instead of in a corner of their plate, throw food waste on the table, making a heap of chewed vegetables and chicken bones thus successfully making it impossible for others to sit in the same place; When most importantly there are NO ONE questioning any of these irritating attitudes, how can one attain Swachh Bharat?

It takes more than a broom to attain a clean India. More than a vacuum cleaner. With technology, it is very easy to identify, segregate, clear and recycle waste. Energy can be harnessed from garbage too, now. There is no dearth of young people with innovative ideas, ready to work on waste management. Jobs can be created. Meghnad Desai feels that beggars can be involved in clean India campaign thus helping the country in two ways. So, the municipality will soon oust the railways in terms of number of employees. As the common Indian throws garbage where ever he wishes, the government sends an army to clean up after this. Guinness book of records will write India as the largest producer of waste yet the cleanest!! But is this what we want? No. We want less waste production than just cleaning the garbage.

Prevention is better than cure. Instead of killing the tenth grade students with coaching for entrance exams, a lot of emphasis should be on cleanliness, reducing waste production, maximising the use of renewable energy sources at the same time minimising the use of natural resources. It is not at all wrong to include in the curriculum simple things like the importance of switching off lights and fans when not in use. Even this can be a job generating opportunity.
Unemployed youth can be trained to educate people about cleanliness, use of toilets, ill effects of littering, open defecation and urination and most importantly the bad effects of over population. More health related jobs can be created too. There is a huge opportunity for private partnership too. Guess this is the emerging sector in the Indian market.

A clean environment will give confidence and security for interested people to invest in the country. I sincerely hope this is the motive behind "Swach Bharat Abhiyan" We shall all go along with those sincere leaders who wanted a clean India.


Tuesday, September 30, 2014

Mangalyaan, a product of success!!?

"Remember remember, the fifth of November
 of India, ISRO and an ambition..
 We all know the outcome of that ambition...
    -- Anonymus 

I am a student at one of the largest universities in Asia in terms of area. The distance from my hostel to the classroom is three kilometers. My classes start at 9 AM so naturally I start from my hostel at 8:55 AM on my bicycle. I guess in order to reach class on time and to listen to the lecture from the first word, I should know precisely how long it takes me to land down the stairs of my hostel, unlock my bicycle, ride as fast as I can, park it, lock it, run towards the classroom, take out the handkerchief, swipe my sweat, go to the last bench and sit. I should be very calculative in order to achieve all this under five minutes. Quite an achievement.

Now, imagine, instead of three kilometers, a distance of about 200 million times that. And a vehicle some hundred times the weight of my bicycle and ten thousand times the complexity. All this in 300 days. Hell of an achievement! This is exactly what those scientists in Bangalore, Sriharikota, Thiruvananthapuram, Ahmedabad, Hyderabad etc have achieved! The fact that India is the first country to put its satellite in Mars orbit on first attempt proves it. The statement made about Mars Orbiter Mission(MOM) or Mangalyaan by China, 'It is the pride of India. The pride of Asia' proves it!!

Picture sent by the MCC on Mangalyaan
On November 5 2013, the Mangalyaan was put into a heliocentric orbit by the PSLV C25, ISRO's most successful launcher. The idea was to keep it in Earths orbit, keep increasing the distance from Earth (apogee) and then fling it towards Mars. Once flung, the engine was shut off for three hundred days. Of course, the moment the 440 Newton engine successfully fired without complaining a day before the D-Day confirmed the success of the mission. Keep your car in one corner of the garage without disturbing it for a year and notice the difference. You will agree about the degree of achievement(more about the placing in orbit, later). The orbit is a 421 km by 77000 km one for the next six months. The payload consists of a Mars Colour Camera which already sent beautiful photos of the 'red planet.' The methane sensor and the infrared spectrophotometer will I am sure give a good amount of information about the methane, hydrogen, deuterium and the mineralogy of Mars. Even though MOM is 200 kms away from its counterpart, MAVEN(sent by NASA), it will still send down some really important data about the Marsian atmosphere. This is a brilliant step by India and the world, a huge leap towards Mars-kind!

One thing saddens me though. When multiple GSLVs failed, ISRO was criticised. This was answered by them recently by successfully launching a geosynchronous satellite. Those who did not stay with ISRO during their failures are now rushing ahead to congratulate us! To shake hands with us! Is this the result of success?? Only as long as the mission is a success are there praises about the project being cheaper than a Hollywood movie or about the charge per kilometer!! Failed? Forget consoling, you would get criticised for misusing public funds on an over ambitious mission to Mars. Everyone is praising ISRO on the success of MOM. What about during ISRO's bad times?? Are we ready to support it? In its good and bad times?? Only time will tell.

Nevertheless, all thanks to every ISRO scientist who made the INDIAN proud!
From the prime minister's words, "We have gone beyond the boundaries of human enterprise and imagination INTO THE UNKNOWN"

Wednesday, September 24, 2014

Patriotic or Nationalistic??

It is quite enlightening to hear people give the "subtle" difference between nationalism and patriotism.
"Patriotism means loving your country in a passive way.
 Nationalism means to show your love towards your country in an active and political way."
Thanks for the summary by those people who feel that Nationalism is a threat.
I did not care until now if patriotism and nationalism are different. I always "actively" loved my country. So probably I am a nationalist. I would not mind considering politics if its for my nation.

There is a pot analogy regarding this. A plant in a pot feels that it is lucky to have been born in that particular pot. Well, I say, that pot can be any pot. It need not be India you love. If you are born in China, you are free to love your country. By the way, for a plant grown in one pot, it is very difficult to transfer it to another pot. Most likely it will not survive. There is of course a bonding the plant gets with the environment it was born and grown in. The benefits of growing up in a diverse culture like India, the great grand mother of tradition are immense. That is what we love about our country!!

Patriotism is to love one's country in a passive way. So, does this mean that I go to the Middle East, earn millions, wish my friends on August 15 and feel that I am patriotic? If nationalism means that I stay in my country and take up an active role for its progress in whatever way I can, I go for it. No caste, religion, race. Only the country. Yes, I say, I shout and shout loud from my rooftop that my country is the greatest in the world. It is, for me. The budget talks in India must be given more focus than to stall parliament sessions to know what the government stance on Gaza issue is! However, just because I say I love my country (Nationalistic love!!, new word?) does not mean that I hate every other country. We(nationalists) stood by the innocent, non armed kurds of Iraq who were brutalised by the Islamic State of Syria and the Levant(ISIL). When Japan was devastated in the latest Tsunami, we 'nationalists' helped them in anyway we could. So was the case in thousand other situations. We love our country and mankind!

After all, we are mankind. But I have a certain jurisdiction only in which I can form my own laws and enjoy certain rights and importantly perform my duties duly. If I am seeking freedom, it is possible only in MY country. That is why the affection. I have certain liberty in and with MY country which I miss with other countries! This is the place where I can demand for employment and this is again the place where I can turn to for a supporting shoulder whenever I am in need. But what pains me the most is how selfish one can be, putting aside the nation that gave everything until then! People go to the middle east to make a lot of money and remain as a "passive" patriot. But when war tears up, India has to shift them to a safe place-India!!

What is wrong in actively loving one's country? I am eagerly waiting for the ISRO's indigenously built Mars Orbiter Mission to reach Mars. Such achievements make me want to be a part of the organisation. I know that NASA has achieved a lot more than ISRO. But the victory of ISRO gives immense satisfaction. After all, it is OUR taxes which helped build the country. I have a sense of ownership towards my country. We better help in its building as a nation. There might have been nationalists in the history who started wars but there were nationalists who won hearts!

Maybe I am a nationalist!! If I am, I am very happy about it. I love my country.

जननी जन्मभूमिश्च स्वर्गादपि गरीयसी

Saturday, September 20, 2014

Up in the Air...my first Journey alone on an airplane

"Just two thousand?!!?" It costs me almost the same amount for an AC class train ticket to Delhi. I will go by flight I thought, not realising that it would the first time I would be traveling alone on an airplane. I traveled once before but that was when I could comfortably stretch my legs in my seat without the occupant of the seat in the front warning me not to hit his legs! This time it was different. Because, all I knew about catching a plane was that it was no train journey where you could do the 'a minute before departure' arrival and jump into the train!

All I knew was to watch a flying airplane open mouthed. On my first journey when I was a kid, my mother took all the necessary steps for a flight journey and I only remember watching through the window, the vast green, brown and black blocks below. But as I sat inside the plane for the second time in my life, I realised how beautiful and worse a flight journey can be. But one thing always drives me crazy. The fact that at six in the morning, I am in Hyderabad and by eight, I am in Kochi or Delhi. It took me sometime on both the occasions to realise that I was hundreds of kilometers away from Hyderabad by the time I was fully awake. One fact that equally scares me is that if I get used to traveling by air in future, I might find train journey strenuous! I love both modes of transport and I haven't yet traveled in a ship!

Since this is my first time on a flight alone, I was in the airport by 3:30 AM to catch a 6:05 AM plane. As the 'metal bird' carrying me accelerated, my whole body warmed. As it took off, I felt nothing. But as I saw the things I felt huge on the ground gradually become small, I realised I was high in the air. I felt I belonged to the air. 'What a take off!! Maybe everyone felt the same.' I thought and looked around only to see that half of the passengers deep asleep and the other half reading the newspaper or waiting impatiently for the coffee trolley. My neighbour was angry about the sudden and hard take off!

The sunrise was spectacular. I did not care to close the window flap to watch it. It was not like the one at Kanyakumari but it was new and nice! I started taking pictures of whatever I never saw from the top. Hills, forests, clouds, reflection of the rising sun in water bodies and airplanes! The air hostesses were performing their routines trying their best not show their bored faces, hiding them behind smiles! The pilot was detailing us about our journey, turbulences and the time of landing and announced that we were just few minutes away from Delhi and would landing soon. Wow! So fast! It felt nice. What a journey!! I guess I belong to the air!

No. It did not feel nice. It started just then and it felt like hours. Ear pain! I have never experienced pain in my ears to such extent. Then I remembered that my mother stuffed cotton in my ears last time and gave me chocolates to chew. My thoughts were again interrupted by stinging pain in my ears! This vehicle does not even have a chain to pull in emergency!! I occupied the window seat and could not even move into the aile because the two persons beside me were happily sleeping. How!!? People were still were drinking coffee happily and chatting. How!?

We descended over Delhi, my ear throbbing at its maximum. The morning Delhi was already on the move on the ground. And none among them have ear pain. I could hear nothing through my right ear and I was sure it would remain so for atleast a day. It did too. Maybe I belonged to the ground. Then we landed which I thought was the hardest thing for me that day!!
'Now, that's a smooth landing,' said my neighbour. 

Sunrise amidst the clouds

Reflection- water bodies

Saturday, September 13, 2014

A Non-Stick University

The university has engrossed itself in a trendy flavour of pink for the past three days preparing for a massive event organised in it by the government of the newly formed Telangana. I was promised some fifty varieties of food unique to the state. But all I got is chicken, that too badly cleaned one. But it is not about the okay-ish food or the excellent cultural shows that I got to experience but it is about that pinkishness that the university, its walls and roads had to embrace, through posters and flags! Thanks to one of my very good friend, I realised the relevance of 'where-to-stick-the-posters!'

Its a door, not a notice board!!

After a talk about waste management, my friend, throwing her and another abandoned tea cup in the dustbin, commented on the poor state of the walls in the university. "I don't like posters to be stuck on walls." I asked, what was wrong in conveying message through a poster? A plain wall could be decorated with posters. She was not happy because,
1. Her undergraduate college had a better way to publicise posters. Apparently, they were never stuck on walls and were kept by the windows. Students later used them for rough work
2. The boards meant for sticking posters are not used properly and walls are used improperly.
3. The walls get really dirty

Looking at how every inch of the university walls are now covered with posters, I cannot agree less with her! I think there are other ways, much better ways to communicate with the "wall-media."-- Graffiti I don't think there is anything wrong in graffiti. Famous quotes should be written on walls but properly. Art students must be given a chance to put to use the stacked up colours for beautiful graffiti. They generally pass their time on flyovers. Go ahead. Fill the university walls. But keep it colourful and beautiful.  When our prime minister went to Kyoto as part of his Japan trip, a main point of discussion was Kyoto turning into a 'poster-free city.' Surprisingly but seemingly obvious, he was told that the Japanese values of cleanliness came from Buddhism. The PM then rightly pointed out that Indians might have conveniently forgotten the values of Buddhism.

When Buddhism offered solutions for cleanliness elsewhere in the world, why not in India, its birthplace!! Almost everybody is active on some social networking site. Posters can be posted on the sites and any communication through hard copy can be done with the help of pamphlets. Yet, there is a dire necessity of voluntary service. Service by both those who stick the posters and read them. For those who stick the posters to stick them in the prescribed areas, the notice boards and by those who read to say firmly that they only read those posters put up in the proper notice boards!
Or maybe, as a last resort use plaster to stick posters instead of gum!
As Kyoto pulls down the last two of its posters, let us pull down our first two and strive for a 'poster-free' university.

Wednesday, September 3, 2014

All Time 15's!!!

"If a snake is not poisonous, it should pretend to be venomous" said Acharya Chanakya. I did not read a lot of books and most of the famous and important books which one must read. However, since the time has come for me to tell everyone what I read and which are my favourites, I pretend to have read a lot of books.
I had no internet for one week and a lot changed since. I now realise that sensations can spread in a very short time. The #ALSicebucketchallenge way of nominating people has spread to various crazy things. One of them, this favourite book nomination and as I, with a mask of a 'venomous snake' am putting forth my ten favourite books. I only started reading very recently and of course read only fiction and not much beyond. Anyway, I give a shot.

I do not include my favourite epics like Ramayana and Mahabharata and other similar ones related to different mythologies; Fascinating books like the Arthasastra, IndicaLilavati and Mathematica and most importantly The Fountain Head  especially, Fundamentals of Physics by Haliday, Resnick and Walker only because I half read and half listened to these books.

Other than these, my best ten include (no order),

7. Trinetrudu, by Suryadevara Ramamohana Rao .... brilliant and inspiring two books. Narrates an inspiring story while giving live examples.

13. Kanyasulkam, by Gurajada Apparao ... for it being one of the best among the telugu literature and is very thought provoking.

9. The Harry Potter series ... of course it will be there on the list. Just one thing about this.. a must read for any body.

12. An Anthropologist among the Marxists, by Ramachandra Guha ... For telling through examples how a true patriot should be, would be and had been!! Though it is too Gandhian, well, after all it is Ramachandra Guha on the line.

4. Not a Penny More, Not a Penny Less and A Prisoner of Birth, by Jeffrey Archer ... What an amazing story teller. The stories show the royalty of the British and they are so neat and perfect. In these two books, the plots are very beautiful.

11. Night Without End, by Alistair Maclean ... Believe me. On a 40-42 degree hot morning, as I was travelling in a packed compartment of a train to Guntur from Hyderabad, I read this book which is based in Greenland and I literally shivered as the author never cared to drop me back in the hot, crowdy train!!

5. Salvation of a Saint, by Keigo Higashino ... What a brilliant plot. If I felt I enjoyed reading his 'Devotion of Suspect X', I enjoyed this book ten times as much. Such a simple yet brilliant plot and especially when a Physicist is the one who cracks the case, it gets more interesting!!

10. Worshipping False Gods, by Arun Shourie ... for being the only book which dared to question B.R.Ambedkar's role in the Indian independence. Though I firmly believe in the only mission Dr.Ambedkar took up, I really think there are certain priorities and the country comes first!!

6. How I taught my Grandmother to Read and Write, by Sudha Murthy ... one of the first books I read. I did not know who Sudha Murthy was back then and like this list, I did not read the book in an order and it came quite as a surprise when I came to know who her husband is. Such a great, yet simple lady!!

15. Lilavati's Daughters, by Rohini Godbole,Ramakrishna Ramaswamy ... just for one reason. For introducing to me, one of the fantastic scientists I have ever seen, Dr.Rama Govindarajan. She is full of knowledge but none of unnecessary pride!

1. The Guide, by R K Narayan ... I could write many other books of his, but all are reflected in this one masterpiece

14. Kite Runner, by Khaled Hossaini ... I have read this sheer brilliant book, for A thousand times over

3. The Shiva Triology, by Amish Tripathi Such fantastic research and very good narration in keeping par with scientific explanations

8. Why are Things the Way they Are, by G Venkataraman Just for it being a 100 and odd page book with simple explanations.

2. Rafa, My Story, by
Rafael Nadal with John Carlin Purely for my love for Rafael Nadal. He however gives such a fantastic insight into his life, so much as telling about his arrangement of bottles during matches that it took me steps closer to him.

I am very sad for leaving out "The Monk who Sold its Ferrari," by Robin Sharma; "The Percy Jackson series," by Rick Riordan. That is it and I am trying to read more. Seriously!! :)


Saturday, August 23, 2014

Namma City...Bengaluru!!

I never wanted this to happen. I never thought that this place would feature on my favourites as much as my birthplace or the place I grew up in or the place I badly want to visit. Its not a tourist destination like Mussorie or Manali. Its not a better place for business than Mumbai, nor is it a piligrim center like Madura or Madurai. I don't know why but it caught my attention and imagination. I was sure I would just finish of my two month work there and leave until I set my feet on the Bengalurian soil three months ago. But the Garden city proved otherwise. Whether it is because it is a multi cultured city with non-Kannadigas more than the native Kannada speakers, or because it is green, or because it was the wonderful two months I spent for a project there, I am happy I went to the 'silicon valley' of India.

I did and do feel that Bangalore is nothing like Hyderabad. For one thing, it is very costly. Secondly, I did not find in Bangalore, as much variety of eatables and cuisine at desired rates as I did in Hyderabad. But the most important thing in complete contrast to Hyderabad is, Bangalore sleeps too early, by ten in the night. I was almost struck in one end of the city at 9:40 PM when I saw that the roads were deserted and the transport facility was minimal. And I wanted to go to the Majestic, the central railway station! However, the chief minister of Karnataka kindly allowed pubs to be open as long as one in the midnight. But in Hyderabad, you get buses even at 11:30 in the night.
The climate is nothing like Hyderabads. It is supposed to rain in the rainy season. Be cold in the winter and summers should be hot! But if the temperature does not touch 40 degrees in mid summer, it is a condemnable act!! How do we enjoy the first rain if the summer is not hot?!!?

The food is not as varied as in Hyderabad. Those people know only to add onion and tomato in almost everything. Every possible food item. I ate so much tomato that I got bored of tomatoes now. But I loved the native Thatte Idli. It is very good. One has to eat it in bangalore. The Dharwad peda and Mysore Dosa are quite famous. But Thatte Idli is to be eaten. So is Bisse bela baath. In the end, it is the native food items that are very good. And coffee. Speaking of natives, all the "natives" I met are people who migrated from Andhra Pradesh and long settled in Bangalore. This Kempegowda-built city is full of telugu people and gardens! Every one kilometer or so, you find a garden. Especially the feeling one experiences while walking along the side paths of Indiranagar and through its gardens at six in the morning is wonderful. Every road is lined with trees on either side. And there are footpaths too. And you don't find encroachment of the footpaths by the hawkers and vendors.

Though I do not belong to the field and do not appreciate it, I could do nothing but marvel at the size of population that was involved in the IT field and the separate section of the city devoted for it. But Bengaluru is not only an IT hub. I felt it is the science hub of the country too. The Indian Institute of Science and the Raman Research Institute still give me the goosebumps. They are grand. One appreciates research as soon as he steps into this wonderful institute. I used to just go and sit under that tree of C.V.Ramans at RRI. It is a beautiful institute. I need not mention the science museum or the planetarium. And Bangalore is the aerospace hub of the country. ISRO, NAL, HAL all are based in this city. So, it is wrong to call it just the IT hub of the country. Or silicon valley of India to that matter.
It is Bangalore. Bengaluru! Namma Bengaluru

True, my stay in this city was only for two months and I have seen so less of it to either say good or bad about it. But fifty days is good enough to get nostalgic about this simple, yet a five hundred year, grand old city. I did not like the food and climate here, though every 99999/100000th person does. But I did like the city.
Maybe because of Dr.Kirit Yajnik, the guide I worked with in those two months at National Aerospace laboratories, maybe it is because of F.R.I.E.N.D.S, old and newly made. Or maybe because it is due to the wonderful sense of music the city has. The art galleries I visited. The brilliant music concerts I attended. I enjoyed listening to music, be it Carnatic or western classical or rock. Maybe it is the magic of the city. It accepts everything and everybody and does not ask you where you are from!

Namma team...RCB!!

Tuesday, August 19, 2014

Beyond those 22 yards!!

"ABYSMAL!" is how the Hindu described Indian cricket team's performance in the test series of the England tour. I would say its the best. It is because, now is the time. Now is the time, a time when the Indian cricket team boasts of no legendary player in it, a time when all the players have collectively failed, a time when the women team of India has beaten England, a time when while cricketers are failing, the rest of the sports persons are succeeding. A time when Kabaddi (a 45 minute game, consisting of two seven player teams!) is now followed better than cricket. A time when India, for the first time has got a podium position at the International chess olympiad! Changing times, probably!

Begun with the world cup victory in 1983, cricket had provided entertainment to lakhs, inspiration to thousands, job satisfaction to hundreds and big time money for tens of people. Inspiration maybe from events like the 1998 Sharjah Coca-cola cup or the 2000 Hero cup or maybe from true greats like Rahul Dravid, Sachin Tendulkar, Anil Kumble, VVS Lakshman, Ganguly and Kapil Dev to name a few. Those events are past and these people are past retirement. 
Now is the time for the entire country to shift its devotion from only cricket to all sports. C'mon, India is probably the only country to have such a large number of religions. But come to sports, why be loyal to only cricket, consider it your only religion and have only one God? God doesn't retire, he keeps reincarnating doesn't he? Maybe he reincarnated in Tennis? Badminton? or maybe Discuss throw?  Ironically, the shocking and 'impossible-to-achieve-ever' by any team defeats come against the British at the time when we celebrate Independence!!

This is major Dhyan Chand
The home ministry proposed major Dhyan Chand's name, who is considered the 'Hockey wizard' and who was applauded by Adolf Hitler at Berlin in 1936 and praised by Don Bradman as "That guy scores like runs in cricket!"  to the Prime Minister's Office to recommend the President to present the hockey legend with the Bharatratna posthumously. It feels so very sad to know what he said about Indians. "maybe the world will remember me. But I am sure India doesn't!" No more shameful act when his name was put aside for the award. Not that a Bharatratna conferred upon him after some 35 years of his death would do him any good but it would really be an inspiration to thousands(?) who are playing any sport other than cricket and is moreover more appropriate for the highest civilian award in India.

It is clear that any game other than cricket has been neglected in our country till now even though we have known about legends like Dhyan Chand, P.T.Usha, Viswanathan Anand, Vijay Amrutraj and Prakash Padukone. I hate the concept of commonwealth games. However, that we stood fifth amongst the commonwealth countries with medals in various sports is a good sign for athletics in the country. Badminton, squash, boxing, wrestling, weight lifting, discuss throw, shooting and archery. Woah, there are a lot of games which can hopefully be taken up as careers in our country! I would love to see India doing really well in football, tennis, cycling and swimming, all my favourites and unfortunately not the country's favourites! Its time we take such issues as serious as growing more trees!

"Commertialisation of sport is the democratisation of the sport" said Andrew Young. Maybe true but I am not sure if it happened in the case of cricket. How come the Indian Cricket League (ICL) was banned then? However, I feel that "Commertialisation of sport is increased publicity of the sport." But is it not applicable to every sport and not only cricket? Why do we not give ourselves a chance to show our potential beyond cricket? Beyond the 22 yard pitch? Beyond those fifteen and odd countries? Beyond imagination?

Happy Independence Day (I know!!)

Saturday, August 2, 2014


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The great festival of Trees!

Vanamahotsav literally means, 'the great festival of trees.' It is celebrated at that time of the year when the farmer looks for hope in the skies; the school children look for fun, joy and the occasional holiday; the city dweller prays for his and his motor vehicle's safety lest he never knows where a pothole on the road is - the monsoon time. It was initiated by the then food and agriculture minister, Kulapati K.M.Munshi, to increase the forest cover in India. Though at a meager rate(something like 0.5%), the forest cover has been rising through the decades. India is still among the ten highly forest-rich countries. The forest cover is about 24%, higher than the suggested 19%, but less than the golden mark, 31%. But with the GDP and a significant portion of the population dependent on forests, it is in the best interests of any political party coming into power to maintain the forest cover we have.

The brave women of Garhwal, Uttarakhand
Vanamahotsav is a one week festival at the beginning of July. But since the monsoon is always late like most of the Indians and Indian trains, I, a true Indian, generally celebrate it by the last week of July. Fortunately, I was taught to plant a sapling and importantly, take care of it until it grows significantly, instead of chopping down huge trees, plant a million small plants, call the media, gain publicity, enter the Limca or Guinness records and leave those million "just-planted" to rot! I can proudly talk about the plants I took care of, and feel sad for the tree I could not save from being cut! Adieu to Amrita Devi and the women of Garhwal Himalayas in the 1970s, now, in 2014, with increased awareness about nature and deforestation and with the Chipko movement taking various shapes and forms, there is a lot more to feel happy and pleased about.

Some fifty to hundred years back, every one was taking of colonies, slavery, supremacy, war and subsequent industrialisation and probably not many talked about environmental issues, with exceptions like Mahatma Gandhi. Hence, now we are talking primarily about environment, global warming, climate change etc.(sadly, we are still talking of wars too!) Any international conference, climate change is a topic which finds itself in. Realisation I guess, or probably a necessity for survival since we are vulnerable and no longer "the fittest!"

The following pictures of barren Hyderabad in the nineteenth century by Raja Deen Dayal show what the level of awareness was back then. All the Nizams, kings and the British-generals were interested in was only hunting down hundreds of Tigers just for fun and of course posing for a picture (a luxury) with the hunted tiger. I think the world is better now than a hundred years back and really hope it gets better in the coming years.

All but rocks: Secunderabad in the late 19th century

 If Hyderabad was only a rocky place with a lot of water scarcity, we need not feel bad about urbanising it and making it relatively scarcity free.

The surroundings of Hussain Sagar are greener now

It is very much possible to preserve various natural gifts and at the same time develop. A lot of profit can be made from forests.

Hyderabad...but without those high rises!


Sunday, July 20, 2014

Oslo Accords..off the records!!

The Israel-Palestine war is as old as the India-Pakistan war. The names rhyme too! Well, thanks to the British, who before leaving both the regions did a unjust division. Division of India was much better than that of Palestine. The anti-semitic world (well, not once, but many crusades took place didn't they?!) was very hostile for the Jews back then. One cannot blame them for trying to have a state for Jews. Nor can one blame the Palestinians for wanting to have the place they were living for themselves. Wrong place probably! The Jews should have chosen Canada or Alaska. But again, Jerusalem is the birth place of the Abrahamic religions (Zionist things!). Right place probably!

Sons of Abraham!

I heard that the actual conflict started with communal clashes in the region after a Jewish guard accidentally killed an Arab. The Arabs then killed and looted. Both the groups started stealing horses and other valuable items from each other. It took both the sides 45 years after partition to sit down for a peace treaty, the Oslo Accords, born in Oslo, signed in the White House lawns with Bill Clinton as the witness. A Nobel peace prize was given away to hype it more even though the peace treaty never talked about the real problem of a Palestine state and the position of Jerusalem. Result? The Jordan prince flies his plane over Jerusalem. That's it. And the Israeli prime minister gets assassinated.
Oslo Accords off the records.

But the present war has not got much to do with the Israel-Palestine conflict. The Hamas, though elected democratically in the Gaza strip has gone to the extremes in targeting Israel. Unfortunately, Israel is ready for any attack and is successfully defending itself from the thousands of rockets being fired into Israel and has built a "Iron shield dome." Just because Israel is able to defend itself does not mean it should remain quiet and not counter strike. Life is very difficult when one has to run for cover whenever they very often hear the familiar wail of the siren warning them of a rocket strike. Schools, banks, weddings, markets, offices. Everywhere its the same. Life for the Israelis is full of  siren cries.
rockets are frequently fired into Israel as far as Tel Aviv

The Hamas which controls the Gaza strip does nothing but fire rockets into Israel. As a result Israel controls supplies into this place. Even Egypt, once ruled by the Muslim brotherhood is taking all measures possible to stop supply of rockets to the Gaza strip through tunnels. A wall of steel is being built underground! The densely populated Gaza is thus suffering from hunger, poverty and unemployment. So, they retaliate and again fire rockets into Israel. Back to square one. The overcrowded Gaza strip is easily affected by air strikes. Life for Palestinians in Gaza is full of hunger or agony cries.

Yet, the Hamas is reluctant to accept a ceasefire agreement proposed by Egypt. The Hamas supporters fired rockets from Egypt as soon as the truce was announced by Egypt. The rockets by Hamas are targeted at any Israeli, Israel warns the civilians before air strikes. And the Hamas is using humans as shields?! Irony is, the media and few political parties in India have made this issue a religious one, thus supporting Hamas and them using human shields! The parliament is stalled over international issues and not on internal issues. I am sure this happens no where in the world except in India. As the prime minister of Israel has rightly put it, "Israel uses missiles to protect its citizens and Hamas uses civilians to protect their missiles."

I guess the Iraq and Syria crisis has led to the cut off of the rocket supply to Hamas from Iran. Whatever it is, innocent people especially children are dying. Hamas is to be blamed for this more than Israel. Why not trade rockets for food?? You give a three year old a cookie, he will eat it. Give him a gun, he will still try to eat it. So, better concentrate on hunger.

Tuesday, July 8, 2014

Rail Budget...SENSEX falls!!

The new, techno powered government has extended its arm over the railways too. Today's rail budget seemed a very light and safe one where the government justified its move to increase fares (I agree. The other government did it last year too, no one protested) and then introduced new things to the railways, ones which don't consume lots of funds. Not many new lines. I guess the dream project, the diamond quadrilateral requires quite some money. And, the Indian railways do not have any!! For every one rupee earned, 94 paise was spent leaving a surplus of only 6 paise! Not a lot of money I guess.

The BJP-led government hasn't forgotten that e-governance has been their main agenda in the election campaign. e-ticketing to support 7200 tickets per minute is good and the irctc website now would be lesser appalling as 1,20,000 users can access it at the same time. Well, Brahma Vishnu Shiva have listened to your prayers, irctc users. But I was under the impression that irctc survived on the money it got on cancellation charges!! What now? And, wifi in A1 category stations! wow, I stay close to Secunderabad station. Hoping it is an A category station, I am going to sit on the railway platform with my laptop whenever I need internet. There are plug points on the platforms. So much at five rupees for the platform ticket, which again could be purchased online!! Woah!

Chanakya was quoted. The sweet news that an equivalent to the entire population of Australia is travelling in trains everyday in India has been reassuring actually. Delhi and Mumbai benefit and the "telugu twins," Andhra Pradesh and Telangana get some railway committee set up. We have been hearing about cleaner trains since my childhood days. Has to come from within!! Of course clean trains will run on profits. No doubt! The surplus is very less and there are dream projects on their minds! We shall see how it goes and how the budget betters in the coming years. I remember sensex gaining 1200 points after the railway budget few years ago and today, it fell by over 500 points, the worst in many days.

While much was not expected in the railway budget (seriously, after fare hikes??), I guess the removal of 5400 unmanned railway crossings, paperless charts, milk transport, internships for students and most importantly, ultrasonic track problem detector are the highlights of this budget. Overall, I feel this is a simple budget which focused on technical aspects which maybe the reason of less investments. Now, Indian railways should start chugging towards profits. Looking forward for the financial budget.