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October 1, 2010

Please extend the SMS ban.

Filed under: India, news — neosurya @ 09:11

22nd Sept – More than 30 SMS messages on my phone “The best deals in town” “Dinner for two at Rs 150” “Incredibly cheap homes only 26 lakhs (in the middle of  nowhere)” “Problems with your boss, wife, girlfriend? Call ABCD” “Get masala girls for cheap” WTF.

23rd Sept – Two messages. (The Govt. had banned Bulk SMS messages ahead of the Ayodhya verdict [1])

24th Sept – Two messages.

25th Sept – Two messages.

and so on….

Till

30th Sept – Two messages.

The verdict is out [1, 2]; most cities seem calm [1, 2]. It seems like the SMS ban will now be removed, and I will have to contend with the regular stream of people trying to sell me masti, Desi girls, food, and everything else under the sun. This is my humble request to the powers-that-be to restore the ban.

I know it wont be heard though :-/.

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June 21, 2010

Concrete development.

Filed under: gandhian principles, market, nature, news, social change — Tags: — neosurya @ 15:37

Visited a “green” venture by a local developer. The guy even asked us tips to make the place greener; they claimed that some folks from Canada had bought a 1 acre property there, and a businessman from Dubai was going to come in a day or two. One of us was an avid byker, The developer asked him for the brand of international bikes that would be appropriate for his brand. He had ducks in artificial ponds, ostriches, turkeys (from turkey)??? The place was guaranteed to develop, would give us great returns, he promised. Wonderful. On the return journey, we mulled over the development that was unfolding about 70 Kms from Bangalore and about 15 Kms from Kanakpura.

As we passed by the concrete pillars built on Outer ring road near Agara Kere, we wondered how “green” these were, and how green would the construction in the village near Kanakpura. BTW, there is no mention of the village on the developer’s website.

And, I also wonder how we became developing nations, and a few other countries became developed nations. Is it because of all the concrete, the air-conditioning, and all the medication that they are getting, or is it because of their obesity. I guess when all toilets in a country get air-conditioning, the nation can be called well-developed.

I remembered an article in the Hindu about how impoverished African refugees were being developed. Or were they?

In Kandikiti, where Jean Lupanga’s family lives, a group of 20 villagers won a $4,000 grant last year to start a pig farm to help orphans. The group bought nine pure-bred hogs, built them a residence nicer than those of most people and posted volunteers to guard it round the clock. They also bought 10 bicycles, vaccines for the pigs and paid their members to attend training sessions.

More than a year later, they have not sold a single one of the white, floppy-eared, European-bred pigs. In a village where scruffy local pigs trot freely among the huts, the group’s leader fell silent when asked who could afford such expensive pork.

And then, this article on corporate, colonial, and now Asian interests in Africa:

About Africa’s role in the world, the old colonial mindset seems to be alive and kicking. Recently a senior French minister called Africa “our El Dorado”, a legendary city of gold. France reportedly wants to ensure broader influence in Africa, seen as “a frontier for profit-making.” Many American, EU and Chinese companies seem to share this perspective.

Will Indian companies be different? Will they give to Africa as much as they receive from it, if not more? This is perhaps what Ratan Tata had in mind when he recently recalled that South Africa had been a victim of “exploitative and extractive enterprise”. He suggested that India and South Africa could have “a different relationship”, one based on mutual benefit and genuine partnership. His advice applies to all Indian companies operating in Africa, not just in South Africa.

May 21, 2009

News summary May 21 2009

Filed under: democracy, India, news — Tags: , — neosurya @ 06:37

‘Ultimate fighting’, a sport with few rules, has raised a storm in Germany
TOI, Bangalore Edition, Editorial page

Just when I was beginning to think that news has become boring, did something very titillating appear in the editorial pages. Apparently:

‘Ultimate fighters’ are men who maul each other with bare knuckles and feet in octagonal cages, a setting straight out of Mad Max. And they can go all out in terms of brutality. About the only thing a UFC participant can’t do is bite his opponent or gouge out his eyes.
….Why do men no longer kill each other in duels, sword fights and other blood-andgore exploits, as they once did with little or no social disapproval? The reason is a civilising process that turned man from savage to human being.COUNTER VIEW:

That the level of violence on display in the mixed martial arts franchise can be difficult to stomach for some people is understandable. But the contestants are willing participants and the viewers are not coerced. They are acting out of free will and there are simply no grounds to deny them that right. Fears that it will contribute to a culture of violence are overblown.

There is an element of hypocrisy on display as well. If Ultimate Fighting is to be reviled, what of boxing? The contestants in the latter wear gloves but it can be every bit as bloody. There are well-known instances of serious injuries and even death in the ring. Or what, for that matter, of bullfighting? It does not make it any less of a blood sport because animals, not humans, are being butchered.

One author wrote against the Ultimate Fighting sport, while the other wrote for it. I wonder how much the prize money would be for the winner of this game. And also, which ads would appear during the “breaks”.

An unfinished agenda
TOI, Bangalore Edition, Editorial page

The article is mainly about decentralizing power from Delhi, and the oft-repeated quote that democracy has to come from bottom up. It claims that the Congress will lead to increased strengthening of the Panchayat and Nagarpalia (local governments). Excerpts from the article:

It has long been obvious that India needs more decentralisation. The freedom movement required rallying an entire nation. A centralised political organisation fighting for one cause was needed. After independence, a different political pattern was required. Mahatma Gandhi convened a meeting of Congress leaders in Sevagram in March 1948 to discuss how the organisation could reform itself to meet the challenges of social and economic development. Though he was assassinated in January, the meeting was held as he had desired. The record of that meeting was published in 2007 in a fascinating book, Gandhi is Gone. Who Will Guide Us Now?
In the meeting, Vinoba Bhave made a case for a new form of organisation unlike the hierarchical entities then considered necessary for government, political parties and large businesses. It would be a network of local organisations. He explained that only such an organisation could preserve the spirit of service whereas hierarchical entities would dissipate their energies in internal matters and power politics.
Acharya Kripalani supported Bhave’s argument. “Without decentralisation, democracy is an empty falsehood,” he said. “Centralisation brings bureaucracy. Bureaucracy and technocracy are both equally the enemies of democracy.” Others in the meeting, however, wondered how activities managed in the loose manner Bhave proposed could ever be ‘scaled up’ to have a widespread effect.

India is diverse and has huge challenges of sustainable social and economic development. Unlike China, it also has political plurality and democracy.

But the critical requirement is to decentralise power. Rajiv Gandhi moved amendments to the Constitution to pass on power to panchayats and urban local bodies. Politicians and bureaucrats, however, will not let go of the power they have. Therefore, it is for Congress leaders to fulfil the unfinished agenda.

The writer is quite supportive of the Congress. When I woke up today morning, DD had a long infomercial about Rajiv Gandhi and the Panchayati Raj. Here is an excerpt from his speech: PDF file. NREGA is a good scheme created by the Govt. But it also has a dole out model built in. I wonder if these well-meaning ideals may turn socialist.

Hillary trashes 30 years of US policy towards Pakistan
TOI, Bangalore Edition, page 18
One more reason why humans fight:

“I think that it is fair to say that our policy toward Pakistan over the last 30 years has been incoherent. I don’t know any other word to use. We came in the ’80s and helped to build up the Mujahideen to take on the Soviet Union in Afghanistan. The Pakistanis were our partners in that. The Soviet Union fell in 1989, and we basically said, thank you very much; we had all kinds of sanctions being imposed on the Pakistanis,” Clinton said at a White House event where she announced an emergency $ 110 million aid to Pakistan for the humanitarian crisis in Swat.

Nearly 20,000 slots still left in H-1B visas
TOI, Bangalore Edition, page 18
I guess one can still go to Buffalo after all !!!

7-yr-old found dead in state BJP chief’s car
TOI, Mumbai Edition, page 1
The excerpts of this article should say it all:

Maharashtra’s BJP boss Nitin Gadkari was embroiled in a nasty controversy on Tuesday following the discovery of the body of a seven-yearold girl from one of his cars and allegations that the class III student had been raped.

a local doctor had been summoned to Gadkari’s home immediately after the body was discovered. The doctor declared the girl dead and Yogita’s body was then taken to her home in a rickshaw by her mother and sister. The girl’s father Ashok Thakre said that he was shocked when he saw his wife Vimla entering their home with Yogita’s body. “We rushed her to the Government Medical College and Hospital,’’ said Thakre. Surprisingly, no one bothered to inform the police and a case was filed only after a local activist, Kishore Ingle, intervened late at night.

“It was hot and she (Yogita) could not endure the heat with her frail heart. All other theories behind her death are politically driven,’’

May 18, 2009

News summary – May 18, 2009

Filed under: India, news, sensex scircuit breaker — neosurya @ 23:34

Enter: Old Faithfuls, Young Turks
TOI Bangalore Edition, Page 1

A stable Govt. for the next few years. On 17th May, there was also news that Advani will be stepping down. Regional parties, who till recently were considered to be indispensable [1, 2] are now being pooh-poohed. Ah, for the world of unexpected events. The market is sure to respond +vely. And it sure did; the sensex rose by more than 2000 points in a little over a few minutes to 14,272.63 [1, 2].The circuit-breaker system designed to stop the sensex from growing arbitrarily kicked in twice today, and trading was finally suspended at about 12:00 noon. More about the circuit breaker system and how it is intended to help investors can be seen here:[1, 2]. No, I do not own any stock. Life sucks, right???

Tamil Tigers finally concede defeat
TOI Bangalore Edition, Page 1

The Sri Lankan forces have found Prabhakaran’s body [1]. Several pictures of his family are presented here. More images of the destruction with earlier reports of the death of his son, Charles Anthony.

Love for Vivekananda, clean politics
TOI Bangalore edition, Page 5

Article about Trilochan Sastry , the founder of Association for Democratic Reforms (ADR). He is a bachelor with multiple advanced degrees working towards better electoral reforms.

150 MPs with crime cases in new LS
TOI Bangalore edition, Page 8

The title says it all, need I say any more? Quote from the article:

An analysis of the affidavits filed by contestants reveals there has been a 22% increase in MPs with criminal cases compared with those elected in 2004. About 150 newly-elected MPs have criminal cases pending against them. These include 73 who have serious charges under various counts of the IPC pending against them.

300 crorepati MPs in new Lok Sabha
TOI Bangalore Edition, Page 9

Another set of numbers about our elected reps. Apparently:

The maximum number of crorepatis were found to be from Congress (137), followed by BJP (58), SP (14) and BSP (13).

May 15, 2009

Newspaper summary May 15 2009

Filed under: bangalore, India, indian elections, news, Uncategorized — neosurya @ 06:56

I do not think I would be consistent with the summaries; they take way too much time. But anyhow, it is an honest revival.

SC awards techie Rs 1 cr damages for medical negligence

TOI, Bangalore Edition, page 1

A story about one Prashant S Dhananka, 39, in whose case the supreme court ruled in favor of a compensation of Rs 1 Cr. for gross negligence during chest tumor removal. He was paralyzed waist down after a surgeon damaged his spinal chord during an operation. He was initially ruled to get Rs 15 lakh amount awarded by the Andhra Pradesh high court.

II PU students can change college: HC

TOI, Bangalore Edition, page 2

A Pre-University Education department circular prohibits a student who joined PUC in 2009-2010 academic year from shifting from one college to another when they move into second year in 2010-2011. The Karnataka high court stayed the application of this circular for students who have joined I PUC in 2008-09.

This could be closely related to the dismal PUC-2 results recently seen. Apparently, many NRIs are also moving back to India due to recession and other factors, especially from the middle east.

Traffic curbs on Saturday

TOI, Bangalore Edition, page 3

Interesting to note that traffic would be diverted in view of “Lok Sabha election counting”. Wow. Rule for the people really wants people to make sacrifices.

BDA’s Arkavathy Layout is in no man’s land. While landless farmers will soon lose health cover under the Yeshasvini scheme as they do not have documents, it is an endless wait for those allotted plots

TOI, Bangalore Edition, page 4

Once lush fields and farms were bulldozed and so was the livelihood of nearly 15,000 farmers. This month-end, their Yeshasvini health insurance cover will end. This means they cannot get free medical facilities anymore. Reason: they’ll no longer be farmers as their ‘paani’ (land document) will cease to exist.

The once-rich landlords’ wives who would look after the labourers and the cattle, are now forced to do menial jobs. “One blessing in disguise is that there are many apartments around the villages. Our women do household chores, eat leftovers. It’s very painful,’’ says Patalappa.
The plight of Appaiahanna is pathetic. He owned 12 guntas where he grew jasmine and reared a cow. His family, wife and two children, led a contented life by selling flowers and milk. Today, he has no land and goes for construction work at an apartment site. He pulled out his children from school unable to support their education and they are doing barbending work at the site.

Wednesday, I was having a discussion with folks from office who insisted that urbanization was solving the caste problem. I wanted to say that Urbanization is likely to create other problems; caste has to be solved organically within a rural setting. Could not express the thoughts then, this article explains a few problems that urbanization could cause.

They own plots but cannot build a house on it

TOI, Bangalore Edition, page 4

The other end of the story:

H G Prakash, 76, an ex-serviceman and son of a freedom fighter from Subramanyanagar, made at least four attempts for a 30 ft x 40 ft plot there. His first attempt under the ex-serviceman quota was not even considered. He finally succeeded in getting a plot allotted and it took him another two years to register it, after countless visits to the BDA office. His struggle still continues, and as time goes by, his hopes of building a house are slowly fading. He paid Rs 2.3 lakh for it and Rs 2,000 more for the little piece of additional land around it. Little did he realize the long struggle ahead until he submitted his building plan for approval on October 10, 2008. He still can’t do anything with the land because of the reserved Supreme Court judgment.

There are nearly 8,800 such people who own land but can’t build houses on it. Some are paying a steep interest on money borrowed from banks and other financial institutions. The BDA scaled down the allotment from the initial 20,000 sites to 8,800, but the disturbing wait continues for allottees. “Our money is locked. My father availed of a loan for the plot and with no progress on the layout, what are we to tell the bank?,’’ says Sanjay.

HC: police need common sense, if not intelligence

TOI, Bangalore Edition, page 4

SC frees Varun of NSA charges

TOI, Bangalore Edition, page 4

They say that the BSP Govt. was vindictive. Going by earlier comments that Varun had gained sympathy, this whole NSA thing would have been a “favor”.

Times of India special pages on LOk Sabha Elections May 16 2009.

Times of India special pages on LOk Sabha Elections May 16 2009.

A Cursed Partnership

TOI, Bangalore Edition, Editorial page 14

Nice article on why Indian and US policies on terrorism are different. The article gives eight reasons, but the last one sums it up nicely:

Eighth, the US has exerted undue pressure on victim India. Secretary of state Hillary Clinton has disclosed the reason why New Delhi did not take the mildest diplomatic action against Pakistan after Mumbai: “We worked very hard, as did the prior administration, to prevent India from reacting”. She indeed wants India to suffer more Mumbais silently, saying America has “a lot of work to do with the Indian government, to make sure they continue to exercise the kind of restraint they showed after Mumbai…” Doing deals with militants and paying growing amounts of ransom money to Pakistan are no way to fight terror.

Mountains need legs

Business Line – Life – Page 3, by Shyam G. Menon

Shyam Menon has written a very humorous article, highlighting an interesting aspect of our society. It is not just about ecology, it also relates to  how human endeavors are concentrating on titillation more than anything else. Excerpts:

Several Englishmen had walked up to Everest Base Camp (EBC) and played a match of cricket on a nearby plateau resembling London’s Oval, 17,045 ft high in altitude. Their reward — potential entry into the record books for the highest altitude at which a field sport has been played.

….

It is harder still to accept that no field sport was ever played when EBC is said to resemble a small tent city in peak season. Nevertheless a record is a record; this was the first time anyone went specifically to play a proper cricket match and not climb the mountain. The team had a Guinness Book official along to ratify the proceedings, reports said.

….

If I were Everest and looking down after all this at a full-fledged game of cricket at EBC, I would strain every sinew in my mountainous body to heave my bulk off the ground and flee further into Tibet. Perhaps relocate far beyond, to the middle of the Taklamakan.

In an age when people play chess underwater, all it takes is one businessman to vault what those Englishmen did for publicity and record, into the stuff of a regular media circus. It may not be at EBC but somewhere else, equally picturesque and hospitable to showcasing a saga of athleticism for the cameras. Gnarled landscape, snow-capped peaks, television and plenty to gloat about low oxygen. Imagine the wealth of statistics for commentary!

Richard Kirtley, who organised the T20 match on the Queen’s birthday, said chasing the altitude record was “a quintessentially British thing to do”. There was no mention of owning up the consequence of examples set on a fragile environment rimmed by the most populous and freshly rich countries on the planet.

Doordarshan plans to offer Mobile TV services

Business line, Front page

We will now have motorists not just speaking into their phones, but even looking into their latest gizoms as they speed on our roads…

October 31, 2008

Assam blasts, MNS issue

Filed under: attack, India, news, times of india — neosurya @ 13:30

Read in the Times of India about the serial blasts in Assam. I have included screenshots of some of the pages in the pdf at this link. What have we come to….

Several articles talked about the Assam blasts.
The front page:
Assam serial blasts kill 66 9 Blasts In 30 Mins

Page 4:
City Assamese stunned at the scale of attacks

Page 13:
“‘Ulfa could have been wiped out’ Army Slams Flip-Flop Policies Of Govts In Tackling N-E Militant Outfit”

The Govt. has been handling this issue with loose gloves. This attitude has been there for several aspects, for example with handling of the MNS activities in Mumbai… The MNS issue is much smaller in scale, but the symptoms are same.


Articles about the MNS-sponsored “terror” in Mumbai:
Front page:
“Slap NSA on Raj, says Union cabinet”

Page 2:
“Father of dead UP man rejects state’s offer of Rs 2 lakh”

Related to a statement made by the father of the UP resident who was thrashed on a local train. Id suggest reading the entire article for the more interesting tidbits anout why he was beaten up, and why the Govt. offered the compensation.

“Patil takes on Lalu, Nitish Kumar”

Page 3:
“MNS mayhem: CM, dy CM under fire”

“Rly’s window angle may weaken its case: Lawyers”
The title does a good summary of the article content; it is lamentable that several authorities want to push issues under the carpet instead of finding the real solution. The article on ULFA extremists also speaks about a similar attitude regarding a different problem (Page 13): “‘Ulfa could have been wiped out’ Army Slams Flip-Flop Policies Of Govts In Tackling N-E Militant Outfit”

There is an article that throws light on how the Govt. can also be very efficient in tackling sensitive issues. Page 4 “Last two shrines on Santa Cruz Rd to be moved”; This one is about the success of MMRDA in moving shrines that fell on the link roads that are being developed. The shrines belong to different religions, and going by the article, the organization has been able to work across religious sentiments.

Page 7:
“Marathis are our brothers, says Rahul Raj’s father”
Rahul Raj is the dude who hijacked a bus at Kurla in Mumbai on Monday this week. By the looks of it, he got a heroes welcome in Patna. To quote the article:
“Bihar deputy chief minister Sushil Kumar Modi and PHED minister Ashwini Kumar Chaubey represented the state government at the cremation, which was also attended by Patna MP Ram Kripal Yadav and hundreds of others. The bier was carried by Rahul’s friends, even as the district administration had arranged a flower-bedecked truck for the purpose.”

Page 18, editorial article:
“Not Yours Or Mine”
The article is about how Mumbai and its spirit is being damaged by political parties which are trying to look for short term gains. It quotes a policeman saying: “Mumbai kisi ke baap ki hahin hai”.

There are also two half-page ads about Indira Gandhi; in essence a tribute to her martyrdom. One ad is on the 4th page by the “Ministry of Information and Broadcasting” and another on the 13th page by the “Ministry of Human Resource Development, Department of School Education and Literacy, and Department of Higher Education”. The money for this has probably come from the respective Govt. bodies.

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