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September 27, 2008

What India needs…

Filed under: India, politics, social change — neosurya @ 08:25

This post is related to an email exchange with a classmate from Engineering College.
The full post is here:

I have reproduced my reply here:

This attitude is self-destructive. The divisive shit in our country is more an attempt by external “friends” to destabilize the nation, than by a situation that developed in-house. Unfortunately, our people are falling for it hook line and sinker. We are ourselves pushing each community into its own corner. There are divisive people everywhere in the political scenario, both among Hindus, Muslims, and other religious communities. It is they who benefit from divisions, not the common man.

In addition, this is not simply a question of one community. It is a question of how India as a Govt treats its many castes, sub-castes, religions, and cultural differences. What is happening to one community in Gujarat is being played out to others in North East, to someone else (Pandits) in Kashmir, to Gorkhas in Darjeeling.

India proactively needs to to straighten its law, get rid of caste, religion and un-necessary weight from its governance, and take care of the Indian citizen. It is imperative to not divide citizens into North East, article 370, upper caste, lower caste, section *.* etc…. We need Patels, Tilaks and Azads as examples at this time, not a Nehru, not a Gandhi, and definitely not a Modi or a Geelani.

There are deep reasons for the last paragraph, and to learn more, please check out: BTW, I am taking the liberty to send this to some of our friends. I am +ve you must have sent the earlier email to some of our folks from school, and it would be nice for them to hear both sides of the coin.

– SP

Let the Christian-dominated nations say something about Hindus, and our so-called “Nationalistic Hindus” will realize how it feels. Hindu mainstream had been a target of popular Western Govts in the past, though it is mellowed down in the current time and age. If that happens again, the danger of leaders like John Howard will become evident. If you read our religious history, this was primarily why Vivekandanda was worked up during his time. His approx words in a talk: If every Hindu would take a handful of mud and throw it at the west, it is less than the collective mud you have thrown on our civilization.

Hindu bashing is not something that is not happening. Look at the school books scandal in California.

BTW, before anyone gets bright ideas – I have the utmost respect for all our leaders. Especially Mahatma Gandhi. I just think that the current era needs someone like Patel more than Gandhi. I am also skeptical of finding a Gandhi. If our generation creates a Gandhi, I would be surprised, but very pleasently surprised. Waise, आजकल दुनिया में आत्माओं की कमी है, महात्मा कहाँ से मिलेंगे; There is a dearth of souls in this world, from where will we find a “great” soul.


September 25, 2008

IT or MIT: Information Technology or Mis-Information Technology

Filed under: common man, science, social change — neosurya @ 07:46

A friend sent me a blurb about section 49-O. There are lots of emails circulating that 49-O is a section where people can tender a -ve vote and thereby cause a re-election. The emails are simply forwarded by individuals who do not bother to verify facts.

The bad part of it is that it is called Information Techology, and it can also spread Mis-Information. This is not true just in the context of rumors, it is happening in professional circles as well.

My office has a comprehensive system to process payments. I have not yet recieved rent, salary, or any other payment for the past several weeks. The “system” does not have the ability to tell HR when these payments will be made. Due to reliance on computer-driven “IT” systems, HR cannot pick up a phone and ask the relevant department when a particular payment would happen. They have to send an email, register a ticket and wait for a confirmation. 🙂

All the same, IT has significant advantages if people use it carefully. This mis-information in part could be because of human nature. For example, we spread rumors very easily without thinking of consequences. Information Techolology has made it all the more easier to do it. Similarly, most IT systems are designed to be air-tight, take control away from the human, and put the onus on software. This arises out of mistrust of the human’s ability to do the correct thing.

Some corrective action may be taken by casual internet users themselves. If a false claim is made on a blog/email, we should at least think of letting the author know. Of course, this centers around wether one has time or not. :-D. In fact, I myself could be wrong about certain things. Feel free to comment.

PS: The erroneous blurbs on 49-O are here:

The real story may be found here:
or better yet, here:

September 23, 2008

Tuition center work at Bangalore

Filed under: association for indias development, NGO, social change — neosurya @ 04:11

A report that I prepared on the tuition center for AID-Bangalore:

Had an exciting time teaching kids in a tuition center at a slum in Bismillah Khan Nagar near Jayanagar. Will be doing this every Wed from now on.

September 21, 2008

Hero Thunder MTB.

Filed under: cycling, environment — neosurya @ 11:53

I finally bought a two-wheeler, and I am liking it. The bicylce is a Hero Thunder MTB, all aluminum, light weight, Shimano Tourney 3X7 = 21 gears, Full Aluminium mudguards. It is very nice. I had to fit in a carriage to carry my laptop. The bike itself was around 6.4K and with VAT, a dynamo light, bell, carriage, and lock it came to around 7K. I purchased it from the Madiwala RR Cyles.

The Aluminum carriage was significantly expensive, about 600 bucks, so I went for an iron carriage taken from a hero hercules. It is heavy, but I can live with it; The bike itself is very light weight. Bicycling in Bangalore involves negotiating an obstacle track with boulders, dividers, and short stairs in buildings. The weight makes it easy for me to pick the thing up. It also is very fast and responsive. The bad part is that it bounces a bit on bad roads, but that happens to every bike without shocks.

I had tried something with shocks earlier; they do stop some jerks, but are not all that useful. Also, picking up the bike, having a full-metal mudguard, and carriage is critical for me. Shocks do not give us that, though the new Hero Octane can apparently come with full aluminum mudguards. With rear shocks, the frame is slightly inconvenient to lift the bike for a long time. The Atlas Ryder is available with front shocks, but somehow the MTB felt lighter and better.

The gears are flawless and behave as expected. Their true nature may be evident after a few months of use.

The build quality of the bike could have been better. Reflectors on the pedals have plastic screws, and one of the reflector broke off within a day of riding. The front reflector also broke, but that was bound to give away some day. It is best to have reflector stickers all over the bike.

The dynamo is self contained, very functional, and does what it is supposed to do – Let the guy coming from the opposite direction know that there is a bicycle somewhere in front. I would prefer to have a dynamo that has a lot less friction, and is more silent, but maybe I shall have to build it myself. I do not know of a place in India that will sell high-quality ones. A few sites with details about dynamos:

I ride about four Kms to work each day – ST bed layout Kormangala to Forum. It takes about 15 minutes to bike. It is less than the time taken for my colleagues on cars, motorcycles.

September 14, 2008

A nice party, stupidity during apartment purchase

Filed under: bangalore, India, social change — neosurya @ 09:28

I went to Sudhir and Arathi’s place last night. Met with JD (Jaideep), Ilango, his wife Jeeva and had a very nice time. I bought a brand of vodka called Shark tooth from the Total mall. Very good quality and 750 ml at approximately Rs. 350 is pretty reasonable. Slept at Sudhir’s place for the night and left for Vijaya and Harish’s house at about 10:30 AM.

Today, Vijaya called me home for lunch. I took bus 331 from HAL to BTM, got down at Jayadeva hospital and took a rick to get to their house from there. It was an 11 rupee ticket to get to Jayadeva hospital from HAL. The rick from Jayadeva/Shopper stop to IIM incidentally was 20 rupees. From Vijaya’s house (IIM) to Shoppers stop it was 5 rupees. In an auto, each trip seems to be four times as much, or even more than that.

At around 3:30PM, Harsha picked me up from Shoppers Stop and we went for the AID meeting at Guru Moorthy’s house. The meeting went very well. Later in the night, I and Harsha left for dinner and then went to a friends’ house. We had planned to meet Dwiji’s father, and discuss urban building violations. Talking to him showed how deep the rabbit hole goes, and how one mans fight can very quickly turn into a wall that seems unsurpassable. People were rather stupid when it comes to apartment purchases. Senior Guru told us how people would buy flats without checking proper documentation and get into trouble. He also indicated how landlords are penny wise and pound foolish. For example his next door neighbor who is filthy rich, converted a residential property into a commercial zone. After getting commercial property conversion, he extended his building beyond the approved plan. When other residents complained to officials about the flouted building rules, he first reacted callously. The Govt. finally caught up with the act and ordered it to be demolished, and the rich guy is now holding the feet of other residents. There were many other cases he talked about where the ending was not very pretty. He suggested that I collaborate with IofC-Bangalore that is interested in these issues.

One part of me says that if people wish to flout Govt. rules, there should be a method of letting them do it. In fact, if commercial establishments were totally disallowed in residential areas, one would not have the local grocer, or any other neighborhood stores. These establishments which are often within walking distance and a great convenience in India. There should also be a way by which illegal constructions would be disallowed from participating in any Govt support, or would need to pay a very high premium to avail of such prices. Govt. could also sponsor a system similar to the policies that Income Tax dept. uses to let people convert black money to white; for example illegal constructions can be regularized by paying 150% of the property value as maintenance charges per annum. Their water etc could also be more expensive.

In any case, an aspect that Indians ignore is that when we become corrupt for short term gains, the problem gets back to us very seriously. I realize that it will be very difficult for me to operate in an urban scenario where there is increased apathy of the law. Corruption exists elsewhere too, but in rural areas it is possible to live clean. Apathy towards law seems comparatively lesser in rural settings, where people are more relaxed. Maybe it is a better setting for me, I do not know as yet.

September 10, 2008

Young country

Filed under: India, social change — neosurya @ 06:11

Dwiji and Sudha helped me move my stuff around today. We met near Raheja complex at around 2:00, and he took me around collecting my stuff. Bags from BDA complex, Kormangala; Cylinder from Jyostna’s sister; stove from Sitaram. My house has been setup with halpe from family and friends :-D.

We spoke at length about urban issues in Bangalore. Sudha suggested that the chaos is a part of a growing, young nation. Chaos was an integral part of New York city, Seattle was burnt to the ground and a new town had been developed on top. In fact, remanants of the old city with its’ lawlessness are now a tourist attraction in modern downtown Seattle.

September 9, 2008

Just got an apartment

Filed under: bangalore, personal — neosurya @ 14:05

Ok – I have an address in Bangalore.

All white, including payment of brokerage. I open the window and see a sky. Regulars in Bangalore know what a luxury it is to see something other than concrete 4 feet away from your apartment window.

Nice 2 BHK, includes backup power, 24 hour water, gym, and the rent aint too bad.

September 5, 2008

Sick, without a co-pay

Filed under: health care, health insurance — neosurya @ 14:11

Being sick sucks…

Have a temperature that see-saws between 99 and 101; Went to a doctor today. This is probably the first time I have paid for a doctor in India with money I have earned.
It was 100 rupees for the visit, and approx 100 rupees for the medicines.

For the same thing in USA, it would have been $10 co-pay. The actuals would have been between $200-400. A significant part of the cost is towards paperwork and the manpower associated with the insurance, administrative and legal overheads. A few interesting articles on overhead costs in the US health system: 1, 2.

An extract from this blog: “UnitedHealth Group (UNH) had a “medical loss ratio” of 81.73%; i.e. for every $1 million of premiums that it took it, in spent 81.73% (roughly $817,000) reimbursing claims. This left it with with a little over $183,000 to cover advertising, marketing, underwriting, salaries, etc.—plus profits for investors.”

September 1, 2008

Warangal – Laknavaram cheruvu

Filed under: travel, warangal — Tags: , , , — neosurya @ 10:56

The locales in Warangal are very beautiful and the bounty of nature inescapable. Today we visited Laknavala cheruvu or Laknavala Lake (wikimapia link), a beautiful land-locked water body with lazy, green islands strewn in between. The lake has suspension bridges to one of the islands, and several jetties on the bridge and along the lake end. There was a boat tied to one of the jetties, and it would have normally been made available to the general public. During our visit, the district collector was also scheduled to make a visit to the area, and the boat had been reserved for his use.

On our return drive we encountered buffaloes returning from grazing, huge numbers of them. It did not seem likely that our tiny vehicle could not negotiate the bovine traffic, and we waited around for solace. Along came an APSRTC (Andhra Pradesh State Road Transport Corporation) bus, and we got right behind it. The buffaloes could ignore our puny little 1000cc alto, but there was no way the very capable representative of APSRTC could be ignored. Incidentally, the buses are labeled on the sides with the words “palle velugu”; which means “village light”. The buses here are divided into a few categories: palle velugu that stops at nearly every location on the road, Express that has a few stops between major cities, Deluxe, Super deluxe, and Garuda. Garuda are volvo buses that travel between major cities and do not take any passengers between the start and destination stops. I use the Garuda buses between Bangalore and Hyderabad.

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