Saturday, February 28, 2009

Doctors' Do Little

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Todays' newspaper read: "49 companies visited IIM-C in the four days of Phase 1 and three students accepted pre-placement offers (PPO) of over Rs 1 crore each from investment banks."
If you remember, last week The Indian Institute of Management - Calcutta, has raised fees for new students from Rs 4 lakh to Rs 9 lakh. The fee for the class of 2008-10 has been formally fixed at Rs 7 lakh, which means existing first-year students have to add another Rs 4 lakh each to the Rs 3 lakh they had paid at the time of admission. The 2007-09 batch was the last to be charged Rs 4 lakh for the two-year course. Batches from the 2009-11 course onwards will be charged the Rs 9-lakh fee.

After a huge failure in implementing the new reservation structure and even filling all the seats at the new IITs, the interim budget last week said - "In addition to 6 new Indian Institutes of Technology (IITs) in Bihar, Andhra Pradesh, Rajasthan, Orissa, Punjab and Gujarat which started functioning in 2008-09, two more IITs in Madhya Pradesh and Himachal Pradesh are expected to commence their academic session in 2009-10.
Teaching is expected to commence from academic year 2009-10 in four out of six new Indian Institute of Management proposed for the Eleventh Plan in Haryana, Rajasthan, Jharkhand and Tamil Nadu."
Now even after loud protests over the availability and salary structure of faculty at these places, lets see how things shape up. Hope the quality standards don't drop much.

But interesting to note that there is no mention of Medical colleges. I was wondering what could be the reason behind this, especially looking at the sorry state of hospitals and the tough competition in all medical entrance exams.

Our country provides one of the most affordable courses in the world and our doctors then fly abroad to get greater returns.
No wonder why there were had such strong criticism during the introduction of compulsory government service for medical students in the government medical colleges.
In all government colleges, the students need to sign a bond with the respective college to offer compulsory service at least for two years in rural areas of the state. The system was enforced to ensure that rural areas got sufficient medical services because most of the doctors refused to work in the backward and interior rural pockets. But, reports say that majority of the students decide to pay the fine and break the bond. And that too a large chunk of this fine is not properly recovered by the institutes.
Earlier this year, we had our Health Minister Mr. Ramadoss addressing at the annual AIIMS convocation "Please stay put in India. This country needs you very badly at this hour than ever and all of you who have graduated today are valuable commodity because you are the best in the world. We want you here in India because there is an acute shortfall of health resources in the country,"

All the State Governments complain that they are spending an estimated Rs.1 million for each student, and they end up working in private hospitals in India or abroad. The ratio of number of doctors to the population is one of the lowest in our country and we are never concerned about it. The cost of treatment in increasing every year, but the only the only solution being promoted is health insurance. The government is rolling out various low cost insurance schemes. No focus is being done on standardization of treatment and improving the quality standards.
From a commercial point of view, the investments in engineering colleges and B-schools is certain to give good returns while the same in medical college is certain to report losses year on year.

Frankly, the options in front of the government are few, either the it should tighten the norms for students to obey the bond or it should focus on other alternatives, for instance investing heavily in improving sanitation and quality of water. Basic facilities like public toilets, maintained from time to time, safe and pure drinking water, awareness campaigns for healthcare and medication should be promoted in all parts of the country. Remember most diseases in India are water borne. Thus, such investments would ensure long term benefits in the aspect of health and sanitation to the society.

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

The Oscar goes to Slumdog Millionare: The Credit goes to ??

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The incredible performance of Slumdog Millionaire at the Oscars brought in mixed reactions from world over. Some felt that the movie deserved it all, rest fought that it didn't..
But interested to note is the way the Indian politicians and British media are fighting to take credit of the success of movie. Here are some of the reactions:

Mr. Manmohan Singh:
"Congratulations, The winners have done India proud."

Mrs. Sonia Gandhi:
"They represent the finest traditions of our film industry and are an inspiration to all of us,"

Congress Spokesperson Abhishek Singhvi:
"a film of India, for India, by India" and also added that the "conducive atmosphere with emphasis on good governance contributing to an achieving India".
"We are celebrating it, not taking credit for the film". He referred to the first individual gold medal in Olympics by Abhinav Bindra, the Indian mission to moon, special status to India in the 123 agreement without signing the NPT, nine per cent growth rate and the country being the second fastest economy in the world, and of course the 8 Oscars for India-focused film as part of "Achieving India".


This seems to be a ploy similar to the one used by the NDA government before the previous general elections, just that the "Indian Shining" has now become "Achieving India".

British Prime Minister Gordon Brown:
“I am incredibly proud of the Oscar success of ‘Slumdog Millionaire’ and Kate Winslet, and I congratulate everybody who has contributed to the success. Britain is showing it has the talent to lead the world. I think we should be very proud of what are great British successes.
“It shows that Britain is leading the world not just in film but fashion, music and design - and long may that be the case - as a result of the great talent that we have,”

His reactions came in very quick, even before the Indians could snatch all the attention.

Here are different reactions from people more closely associated with the movie -

Danny Boyle

"There's one guy I should mention, we've mentioned a lot of people. I forgot a guy. The guy who choreographed the dance at the end of the film. He's called Longiness. And I forgot him off the credits. And I only found out about it two weeks ago. I'm an idiot and I apologize from the bottom of my heart, Longiness. Thank you so much. Finally, just to say to Mumbai, 'Unending, inseparable, unborn.' All of you who've helped us make the film and all of you of those of you who didn't thank you so much. You dwarf even this guy (gesturing to the statuette). Thank you very much indeed."


Frank Boyle (father of Danny Boyle)
"I think it's reasonable,He is not making films for me. He is making them for younger filmgoers so I won't say anything more about it. I really liked the music I thought it was wonderful."

Tanay Hemant Chheda
"It's unbelievable, it's still not sunk in. We are on the red carpet. Wow!"

Any guesses for what did my favorite performer in the movie had to say ??



Anyways, I think we all Indians should realise the fact that Slumdog Millionaire is essentially an English production, made in India. Let's not go overboard and call it an achievement or recognition of "Bollywood" in the West. So, the credit goes to all the people associated with the movie the Director, Producer, All the actors, the technicians, and support staff. And not to forget here, Vikas Swarup and his book "Q&A" (chosen as "The Most Influential Book of the Year 2008" by Kingstone Bookstore in Taiwan, the biggest chain store throughout Taiwan)which made all this possible..

Monday, February 23, 2009

Hyundai Assurance - A Certainty in Uncertain Times

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You must be aware that two of biggest auto makers in US were brought to the brink of bankruptcy last year, as auto sales collapsed amid a credit crunch and widening recession.
A recent forecast says that total auto sales will be between 10 million and 11 million units this year, which would be the industry's worst performance since World War II after adjusting for population growth.
GM was offered a loan package worth 13.4 billion dollars in December, but is expected to ask for billions more in aid in order to stave off bankruptcy.
Last week GM said it would cut 10,000 white-collar jobs worldwide this year, reducing its headcount to about 63,000. There were even reports that it would lay off 47,000 workers all over the world (excludes India thou' )and even shut down a number of factories at various places.
Chrysler was presented a loan package of four billion dollars, but it has said it hopes to secure an additional three billion in loans.
Now while everyone is looking upto President Barack Obama and his task force to steer restructuring of the economic condition and bailout the auto industry, here is an interesting commercial from Hyundai Motors.

"In times like these, buying a new car is a big commitment for most people..
So what about the company selling it to you? How committed are they?

Introducing the Hyundai Assurance.
Now finance or lease a new Hyundai; if you lose you income next year, return it to us with no impact on your credit..

A car company that stands behinds its customers
May be commitment is not so scary after all."


Overview:
Hyundai is the first automaker in the US to offer a vehicle return program that allows you to walk away from your loan or lease without having to worry about the negative equity. It lets you return your vehicle in case of certain live-altering circumstances. That's the Hyundai Assurance.

Program details:
Availability on all new Hyundai vehicles.
Availability to everyone regardless of age, health, or employment history
12 months complimentary on every new Hyundai vehicle financed or leased.
Covers up to $7,500 in negative equity

Coverage in case of:
Involuntary unemployment
Physical disability
Loss of drivers' license due to medical impairment
International employment transfer
Self-employed personal bankruptcy
Accidental death

We've got your back - isn't that a nice change?

Sunday, February 22, 2009

Diary of a Pakistani Schoolgirl 2.0

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Finally reading this article I am relieved.
I don't know what sort of bonding is this; but since the time I read her previous articles on BBC, I have been checking the site everyday to know about her and her safety. Swat has been in news everyday; first because of the continuous violence between the religious hardliners and people being killed, and now about the peace agreement, ceasefire and Sharia law, that was imposed in the region.
I really don't know how good will this be for the common people in Swat, for the people of Pakistan, for India or for the world community, but after reading this article I am atleast happy to know that the schools have reopen and peace has been restored in Swat.

Here is what she noted in her diary in the last 20 days.

SATURDAY 24 JANUARY: 'MAKING A GRAVE'
The only good thing that has come out of the war in Swat is that our father has taken us away from Mingora (the largest city in the Swat valley) to many other cities. We arrived in Peshawar from Islamabad yesterday. In Peshawar we had tea at one of our relative's houses before travelling to Bannu.

My five-year-old brother was playing on the lawn. When my father asked him what he was playing, he replied 'I am making a grave'.
Later we went to a bus stand to travel to Bannu. The wagon was old and the driver was using his horn excessively. On our way the vehicle hit a pot-hole - and at the same time the horn started blowing - waking up my 10-year-old brother.
He was very scared and asked our mother: 'Was it a bomb blast?'
On arrival in Bannu, we found my father's friend waiting for us. He is also a Pashtun but his family spoke a Bannu dialect so we could not understand him clearly.
We went to the bazaar and then to the park. Here women have to wear a veil - called a shuttle veil - whenever they leave their homes. My mother also wore one but I refused to wear one on the grounds that I found it difficult to walk with it on.
Compared with Swat, there is relative peace in Bannu. Our hosts told us that there was a Taleban presence was in the area but there was not as much unrest as in Swat. They said that the Taleban had threatened to close down the schools, but they were still open.

SATURDAY 31 JANUARY: WHO WILL AVENGE THOSE KILLED?
On our way back to Peshawar from Bannu I received a call from my friend. She was very scared and told me that the situation in Swat was getting worse and I should not come back. She told me that the military operation has intensified and 37 people have been killed only today in the shelling.

We arrived in Peshawar in the evening and were very tired. I switched on the TV and there was a report on Swat. The channel was showing empty-handed people migrating on foot from Swat.
I switched the channel and a woman was saying "we will avenge the murder of Benazir Bhutto". I asked my father who would avenge the deaths of hundreds of people of Swat.

SUNDAY 8 FEBRUARY: SCHOOL MEMORIES
I am sad watching my uniform, school bag and geometry box.
I felt hurt on opening my wardrobe and seeing my uniform, school bag and geometry box. Boys' schools are opening tomorrow. But the Taleban have banned girls' education.

The memories of my school flashed before me, especially the arguments among the girls.
My brother's school is also reopening and he has not done his homework. He is worried and does not want to go to school. My mother mentioned a curfew tomorrow and my brother asked her if it was really going to be imposed. When my mother replied in the affirmative he started dancing with joy.

MONDAY 9 FEBRUARY: PRECARIOUS
Boys' schools in Swat have reopened and the Taleban have lifted restrictions on girls' primary education - therefore they are also attending schools. In our school there is co-education until primary level.
My younger brother told us that out of 49 students only six attended his school including a girl. In my school, only a total of 70 pupils attended out of 700 students who are enrolled.
Today the maid came. She normally comes once a week to wash our clothes.
She comes from Attock district but she has been living in this area for years now. She told us that the situation in Swat has become "very precarious" and that her husband has told her to go back to Attock.
People do not leave their homeland on their own free will - only poverty or a lover usually makes you leave so rapidly.

WEDNESDAY 11 FEBRUARY: EXPLOSION WARNINGS
I was scared the whole day and also bored. We do not have a TV set now. There was a burglary in our house while we were away in Mingora for 20 days.
Earlier such incidents did not happen, but they have become rampant since the security situation in Mingora deteriorated so rapidly. Thank God there was no cash or gold in the house. My bracelet and anklet were also missing but I later found them. Maybe the burglar thought of them as gold ornaments but later found out they were artificial.
Maulana Fazlullah in a speech last night on his FM channel said that a recent attack on a police station in Mingora (the largest town in the Swat valley) was akin to a pressure cooker blast. He said that the next attack would resemble a cauldron exploding and after that a blast the size of a tanker exploding would take place.
At night my father updated us on the situation of Swat. These days we frequently use words like 'army', 'Taleban', 'rocket', 'artillery shelling', 'Maulana Fazlullah', 'Muslim Khan' (a militant leader), 'police', 'helicopter', 'dead' and 'injured'.

THURSDAY 12 FEBRUARY: HEAVY SHELLING
There was heavy shelling last night. Both my brothers were sleeping but I could not. I went to lie down with my father but then went to my mother, but could not sleep.
That was why I also woke up late in the morning. In the afternoon I had tuition, then my teacher for religious education came. In the evening I continued playing with my brothers amid fighting and arguments. Also played games on computer for a while.
Before the Taleban imposed restrictions on the cable network, I used to watch the Star Plus TV channel and my favourite drama was 'Raja Kee Aye Gee Barat' (My dream boy will come to marry me).
Today is Thursday and I am scared because people say that most suicide attacks take place either on Friday mornings or on Friday evenings. They also say that the reason behind this is is because the suicide attacker thinks that Friday has a special importance in Islam and carrying out such attacks on this day will please God more.

SUNDAY 15 FEBRUARY: DON'T BE SCARED
Some guests from our village and Peshawar came today. When we were having lunch, firing started outside. I had never heard such firing. We got scared, thought that the Taleban had arrived. I ran towards my father who consoled me by telling me 'Don't be scared - this is firing for peace'.
He told me that he read in the newspaper that the government and the militants are to sign a peace deal tomorrow and he firing is in jubilation. Later, during the night when the Taleban announced the peace deal on their FM station, another spell of more stronger firing started. People believe more in what the militants say rather then the government.

When we heard the announcement, first my mother and then father started crying. My two younger brothers had tears in their eyes too.

MONDAY 16 FEBRUARY: REOPENING?
Today I was very happy because the government and the militants were to sign a peace deal. Today the helicopters were flying very low too. One of my cousins remarked that with the gradual return of peace the choppers were coming down too.
In the afternoon people started distributing sweets. One of my friends called me to greet me. She said she hopes she could go out of her home now because she was imprisoned in her room for the last several months. We were also happy hoping the girls' schools might open now.

TUESDAY 17 FEBRUARY: HUSTLE AND BUSTLE
Today I started preparing for the examinations because after the peace deal there is a hope that girls' schools could reopen. My teacher did not turn up today because she went to attend an engagement.

When I entered my room I saw my two brothers playing. One had a toy helicopter while the other had a pistol made of paper. One would yell "fire" and the other would say "take position". One of my brothers told my father he wanted to make an atomic bomb.
Maulana Sufi Mohammad is in Swat today. The media are here too. The city is witnessing a lot of rush. The city's hustle and bustle has returned. May God help make this agreement successful. I am optimistic.

WEDNESDAY 18 FEBRUARY: HOPE SMASHED
I went to the market today. It was crowded. People are happy about the deal. I saw a traffic jam after a long time. In the evening my father broke the news of the death of a Swat journalist (Musa Khankhel). Mom's is not feeling well. Our hopes of peace have been smashed.

THURSDAY 19 FEBRUARY: PEACE NOT WAR
My father prepared breakfast today because my mum is not feeling well. She complained to my father, asking why did he tell her about the journalist's death? I told my brothers that we will not talk of war but peace from now on. We received the information from our school headmistress that examinations will be held in the first week of March. I have stepped up my studies.



Well I hope, the peace lasts forever, and every boy and girls lives a happy and fearless life.

Friday, February 20, 2009

DUBAI - Tourist Guide

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After fighting recession in the placement season, its time for the much awaited study tour at National Insurance Academy School of Management. As a part of their curriculum, the students visit an Asian country and try to understand the insurance practices in those markets. Last year, my batch visited Bangkok to know more about the Thai insurance market, and this year my junior batch is going to Dubai to learn about Middle-East markets.


Out of my curiosity, I happened to check various Dubai tourism sites and here are some of the tourist suggestions had I came across :

* Respect local cultures and traditions of UAE and never try to make a mockery of local traditions. Avoid commenting on dress of the local people.

* UAE is an Islamic country and so avoid tight and exposing clothing. Women should particularly wear modest clothes. It is not appropriate for men to walk along the street bare-chested. It is very advisable that females avoid wearing very short skirts or revealing top. It is advisable not to wear thongs as it may cause distress to the locals.

* Don’t eat in public places during Ramadan. During Ramadan all Muslims fast from sunrise to sunset, and eating, drinking and smoking in public areas during daylight hours should be avoided.

* Don’t carry any drugs in the UAE; with the slightest amount of any substance you could face the death penalty.

* Always drink bottled water that is easily available everywhere in UAE. Tap water is desalined and safe for drinking, but drinking bottled mineral water is advisable.

* When taking a photograph in Dubai, please bear in mind local people wearing national dress may take exception if photographed without their permission. Please avoid taking pictures of women.

* Don’t swear- as you can get fined and sent to jail !

* Homosexual practices are prohibited.

* Don’t touch anyone’s head as it is considered offensive in UAE

* It is against the law to walk in the street drinking alcohol or to be drunk in a public place.

* Indulge in some haggling while buying goods without price tags whenever you go shopping in UAE.

* Don’t be too passionate in public with your partner. Kissing and other public displays of affection – may get you in trouble with the police.

* Don’t make rude hand gestures if you're driving. Venting your frustrations either physically or verbally can result in your arrest.

* Don’t use your left hand while greeting or handing over things to people.

* Use sunglasses and sun cream, as sunburn is common in UAE and the heat sometimes can be unbearable.

* Don’t expect taxi drivers to carry change. Many struggle to provide change for any note greater than AED 50.

* Don't overstay your visa period, as you will be charged per day.

There are some of the Do's and Dont's specific to UAE, apart from the usual tourist guidelines with respect to their passports, visas, medical insurance, safety etc.

Thursday, February 19, 2009

Bangalore - Bitter, sweet symphony

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Mr. Manjunath (name changed) and his wife had decided long ago (back in 1970s) to settle in a peaceful city after his retirement from the government job that he was into. They had chosen Bangalore over the other choices as it had a good weather and all facilities that people in their older days may want. Close to 40 years later they regret their decision even as they continue to live in Bangalore and have come to terms with the life in this IT capital of India.
The tale of Mr. Manjunath is not unique. Like many others his age he had saved (the concept of saving for the future is something unique to India, recession may teach the west some Indian values) a little money for his post retirement life, taken a small 'home' in Bangalore and had thought of living out the rest of his days in the garden city.
The IT and silicon took over Bangalore and the little savings evaporated in no time. Mr. Manjunath was forced to find other ways to keep the income flowing into his household and he now owns a small shop selling groceries and condiments which is taken care of by his wife, himself and their domestic help (a small kid, some 11 years old).
Mr. Manjunath is still a happy man as he is proud that he's still independent and doesn't have to ask for monetary support from his relatives. However, the change in his facial expressions is evident when one talks to him about his past plans and how the city's development has robbed his post retirement peace plans.
Bangalore has also created new avenues for a number of people (not everyone is complaining). Mrs. Neelam is an independent woman who carries 3 cellphones with her (and they keep ringing all the time). Married into a marwari family at an early age, she was not able to graduate from a secondary school. Her husband, a government employee working in Bangalore, is today proud of his wife who earns much more than him. She started giving PG (paying guest) accommodations to young girls and boys who were flooding the Bangalore's already crowded streets a few years ago and the rest is history. At present she owns 3 buildings and has taken 6 more on lease where she runs her hostels and PG accommodations. She still finds it difficult to speak fluently in English but manages well in the five stars hotels and resorts of Goa where she goes every year to celebrate the new year's eve with her 'kitty' friends!

You could save a life!

4 comments
I got this as a forward in my inbox. The request was to forward it to all in my list I think CnC can help to make it to a larger audience.

Dear Friends,

The below 4yrs baby name POOJA was kidnapped by a person at some place and now she is under Kerala Police custody . Since the baby could not communicate her identification clearly, Police is struggling to find her parents. The flg information was given by the baby which may or may not be correct also. Requesting all to forward her photograph to the maximum people in India to identify her parents / relatives.

Hope this will cost only your time and will help one life.

Information given by the baby:

POOJA


Father's Name : Mr. Rajkiran
Mother's Name : Mrs. Munny Devi
Language : HINDI
Place : Nagaluppi (this was pronounced by the baby which Police could not find such a place. The place must be related to the mentioned name). She is having one younger Brother & Elder Sister.

VOTE FOR ??

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We will soon be hitting the Indian summers, the teams are getting finalized, the players are being auctioned, bought and exchanged, sponsorship deals are being signed, more investors are putting in their money, the venues are being decided, the dates are getting finalized and in no time we will get to see all action.
Well its not all sports here.. We all are getting so many updates about the IPL 2 scheduled somewhere in the month of April and getting ourselves ready for greater excitement than what it was last year.
But this time let us learn from our mistakes and not repeat them again.
Our next General elections are scheduled in May, 2009. The parties are nominating their candidates, the tickets are being allocated to various party men, people are switching parties, the alliances are being decided, the budget allocation has been done (a whooping 1,120 crores), the election manifestos are coming out, the advertisements and publicity are on, and campaigns are being held across the country.


Let’s be a little more responsible in deciding our priorities. Rather than analyzing on the IPL Teams and their strengths and weaknesses, let’s understand the leaders and their parties well. Let’s understand their principles and the election manifestos. Let’s be 100 % sure about the person before we allow him/her to make polices and take decisions for us. Let’s be clear in our minds about the person we are voting for, know his/her background, understand what he/she wishes to do, and how they plan to achieve the same, and then decide if they are capable of fulfilling all the promises or not.

Don’t be careless now and repent late. Let us all take an informed decision.

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

It’s not always BUTT obvious

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It’s not long since we had heated arguments over a ban imposed on the use of the national flag on sports gears, costumes and dress materials.
"The Prevention of Insults to National Honour Act, 1971 lay restriction on the use of national flag as a portion of costume or uniform by the members of public, in general, and sportspersons, in particular."
But in 2005, the then Information and Broadcast Minister, Jaipal Reddy amended the Act, and the restriction on the use of national flag was withdrawn.
Then on, Sachin Tendulkar was allowed to wear the flag on his helmet, Narain Karthikeyan was allowed to use his special F1 helmet with the flag designed on it, other Indian players in various sports were allowed to use flag on their sports gears and even as a part of a costume or uniform of any description but not as undergarment or below the belt.
Now look at the new jersey launched today by the Indian Cricket Team.


As it is, the colour and design of the jersey are very weird, on top of that couldn’t the designer find a better place to mention the Team Name – Name of our country, than the butt ??
Well, obviously all parts of our body are equal and we needn’t be partial to the upper half of our body compared to the lower, and even the law is not to have flag on below the waistline, no such rule against the name of the country; but then whatever said and done, one can look out for better places to flaunt the country’s name than this..
Lemme know if anyone liked this jersey..!!

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

4 YEAR OLD, RAPED AND MURDERED

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Is ours a progressing nation? Now, I have my own doubts..
A 4 year old girl was raped and murdered in our national capital today.
The victim, Bhanu, was daughter of a washerman was raped, murdered by strangling, by Daya Ram, a rickshaw puller and here body was found abandoned on Rakesh Marg, Delhi.

I am yet to digest this incident, whats happening to our country and our citizens?? Why are we acting like psychos?? Lets not talk about the rich culture, this is insane and inhuman. Its a matter of national shame !!
What should we do now?? A pink barbie campaign ??

I am an atheist but I can't stop praying -

"So come back as Jesus
Come back and save the world
That's all the future
Of every boy and girl
Come back as Rama
Forgive us for what we've done
Come back as Allah
Come back as anyone"

Sunday, February 15, 2009

Violent Times - A DAY

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Sitting here in my hostel room, and watching all that's is happening in my country, I am ashamed to see how badly we are struck between the two extreme identities – a modern citizen of a global family or an orthodox Indian who always carries with himself the misinterpretation of his religion.

Today - 14th of February, the day for Love turned violent in India, thanks to men wearing saffron clothes and calling themselves "moral police", and taking it as their responsibility to teach the modern Indians, the true Indian culture.
Bajrang Dal activists harassed siblings at Vikram University, Ujjain assuming them to be couples. Here in Pune, Shiv Sainiks have forcibly married off two couples near Khadakvasla Dam right opposite the National Defense Academy.
In Bhopal, police rounded up Bajrang Dal activists for causing trouble for couples celebrating Valentine's Day. The saffron brigade was threatening to marry off lovers found in public places. Thirty Shiv Sainiks were arrested in Gwalior, for creating a ruckus in a park with couples.
The worst was the incident where a Sub-Inspector dragged a girl (along with her boyfriend) by her hair to the police station. Jind Superintendent of Police B Satheesh Balan said "SI Moola Ram has been suspended and a departmental enquiry will be conducted by the DSP. The enquiry is suo-moto and the complaint has been filed by the SHO. Abuse of power and misbehaviour with the woman are the charges. The couple is ok and have been sent home. The inspector has committed a grave mistake and will have to face the music. This is an isolated case where a police official was involved and for that he will have to face the music,".

These are just some of the incidents that I got to know through news channels, so not sure how many more innocent people were tortured and harassed just for loving another fellow human being.

When I was trying to find out the root cause of all these incidents, all I could think off are the videos I saw in National Geographic about Taliban and how women are ill-treated in Afghanistan and parts of Pakistan, but then suddenly something struck in my mind and I happened to recollect a famous incident in one the greatest epic of Hindu religion – The Ramayana.
It is rather the reason because of which, Shri Ram and Ravan ended up in a war and eventually Ravan was killed. The incident goes like this –

"Shri Ram, Sita and Laskhman had spent close to 10 years in the Panchavati forests during their exile, but one day Surpanaka (Ravana's younger sister) disguised herself as a beautiful woman and proposed Shri Ram to marry her. Shri Ram called himself happily married and asked her to approach his brother, Lakshman.
Surpanaka went towards Lakshman and made the same proposal. Lakshman said - "I am merely his servant and remain under him. Marrying me, you too will have to be under him. So you have no chance here but you can marry my elder brother since he is a king and a king can have many wives."
She again went back to Shri Ram but was again sent back to Lakshman. Lakshman became irritated and said only such a man could marry her who has abandoned shame. This got her furious and Shri Ram signalled Lakshman who acting quickly severed her ears and nose."

So here are our own Hindu scriptures telling us about the treatment given to lovers and people who propose love to one another.
I was so dumbstruck to note that such an incident quoted in an epic which is one of the foundations of my religion. And now, we have people foolishly following only this part of the story and not all the morals that the story teaches us.

In the technology era, we needn't get driven by our scriptures. With increased interaction and information through various sources, we all get to know what is right and what is wrong. In this free world, one can chose what they want to do in their life; if someone is going directionless, then it should be the responsibility of their parent, friends and relatives and to the max the police force to get a person on right track. Its an individual's choice whether they consume alcohol or not; no one has right to stop him/her as long as he is not creating trouble. We don't need moral police in our country, that too taking violent steps against people who are committing no crime. There are so many criminal and terrorist activities which are happening in our country, violence can be used against them and to stop further damage and bring back peace. What is important as an individual is that, each one of us should understand our duty and be accountable for all our actions. Rest of the things would just follow...

Thursday, February 12, 2009

Kitabe Bahutsi Padhi Hogi Tumne.....

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With Valentine’s Day approaching, the situation in our country is chaotic. While most people are criticizing the action of Ram Sena and other Senas, some of them even buying and couriering Mr. Mutalik more and more pink chaddis as a campaign against moral policing; and some are busy planning their own way out to celebrate the day for Love.
For people looking for an innovative idea and as well help the society in a long run, here is sometime interesting coming from UK.
The British Library is the national library of the United Kingdom and one of the world's greatest research libraries. The library has launched a unique Adopt a Book scheme to give your heart's desire a unique and ethical Valentine's Day gift, whilst helping to preserve the world's greatest book collection for future generations.
A perfect gift for all the Shakespeare lovers, one can try the beautifully bound and illustrated copy of William Shakespeare's A Midsummer Night's Dream (1901), or Emma Marshall's Shakespeare and his Birthplace, a stunning illustrated guide to Stratford upon Avon as Shakespeare would have known it. Oscar Wilde's House of Pomegranates (1915), his classic collection of fairy tales, is also available to adopt for those who want to bring a bit of magic into their romantic lives.
Click here for the entire collection
Conservation is required to preserve both treasures from the past and modern items, many of which are deteriorating from age and continual use. By adopting a book one can help to protect these items for decades to come.
There are a number of adoption packages:
1. For a minimum donation of £25 the person will receive a personalised certificate that records the name and title of the book they have adopted.
2. For £75 they will also receive a voucher for a public tour of the British Library for two people.
3. For £150 they will also get a permanent personalised bookplate inserted into your chosen book, recording the gift for as long as the Library exists.
4. For £250 they will be invited to a special 'behind the scenes' tour of our Conservation Studios at which they can meet their book and the conservators who worked on it.
5. For £500, your name will be inscribed on the British Library's Adopt a Book Benefactors List.

Thursday, February 05, 2009

Pratibha Patil, another 'pratima' of inaction !

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Honourable President of India, Shrimati Pratibha Patil, was in Bangalore a few days back (sorry I don't remember which day it was!).

If you are one of those people who have never wished for a president like Mr. Obama, or never thought that it was important who was running the country as long as your salary was fat enough to feed your dogs, then you will continue to have presidents like Mrs. Patil who fail to make their presence felt on any platform (quite miserably). The news that the president was in Bangalore was covered by the newspapers but very few people knew about it. She was here for inaugurating some new facility of Apolo hospital. For a president as jobless as her it wont be surprising if she would be available for the inauguration of a CnC 'Guess who?' quiz!!!
Your next PM or President would have 'pratibha' or would be just another 'pratima', you decide! Jai Hind!

Cheap and Chalu - 2.0

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Cheap and Chalu seems to be the new mantra of modern India.
Today Indian government unveiled the new $10 laptops which would give a big boost to the education facilities at our rural and backward areas.

While the world was going gaga over Nicolas Negroponte’s One Laptop per Child (OLPC) and the XO machines, launched with a mission "To create educational opportunities for the world's poorest children by providing each child with a rugged, low-cost, low-power, connected laptop with content and software designed for collaborative, joyful, self-empowered learning", here is India's answer to it, that too at one-fifth of the price.

Before this this, it was Chandrayaan, our satellite developed by ISRO which silenced all the critics from all corners of the world and proved itself to be 100% efficient is its very first attempt. May be it’s the confidence of the ISRO team, that they launched it without even taking an insurance cover!

Last year, Indian IT and Computer hardware major, HCL created news with the then cheapest Laptop called MiLEAP X for just Rs 13,990.

Indian telecom player Spice unveiled a groundbreaking product range of mobile including the world’s cheapest phone, called the People’s Phone - a mobile handset, sans screen display for as less as Rupees 500. The people’s phone coincidentally also comes in a braille edition.

Even Indian defense weaponry is one of the cheapest in the world. The new American F/A-22 Raptor stealth fighter costs Rs 480 crore. The Rafale multi-role jet being inducted into the French Air Force and Navy, in turn, notches about Rs 270 crore. The price tag for the French Mirage-2000 and the Swedish JAS-39 Gripen also hovers between Rs 130 crore and Rs 160 crore. In contrast, despite huge time and cost overruns, the indigenous Light Combat Aircraft "Tejas" costs only Rs 100-110 crore. Can't comment of their relative performance though..

Now I needn’t quote TATA Nano here, the whole world knows about it.

What’s common between all the above is that, we try to develop our indigenous technology which is cheap and efficient just like the famous incident – while Russians used pencils, NASA spent millions of dollar to develop a “space” pen for its astronauts.
From an economist’s point of view, what can help India further in this cause - is that we have such a huge domestic market that we can go for higher economies of scale. With the growing economy and the increase in purchase power of people we can expect sales for all products and services to grow higher. The establishment cost for all such productions are just one time investments.
Thinking of it, if we plan to make every citizen of our country get essential clothing, we can actually make it is possible. All we need to do is establish a large loom and continuously generate the same cloth (same texture and colour), now this cuts a lot of cost and then adding a little subsidy or cross subsiding it, we can make sure that we do not have any naked Indian.
Likewise we can have shoe factory, producing the just 1 type of shoes (or chappals) for all.
Similarly for food, if we have a baking house to manufacture the same type of bread for all people below poverty line and distribute it through out the country via proper distribution channels and reach it would solve the starvation to a great extent.
The list is endless; if we keep encouraging innovations and also try achieve such economies of scale we would definitely be able to provide better services and more importantly at very low cost.

Tuesday, February 03, 2009

3 Pak women rape a man

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Karachi police have registered a case against three unidentified women who allegedly abducted a man and raped him over four consecutive days, and later throwing him near Qayyumabad River in an unconscious state.
The Daily Times, reports about the victim Khalil, a 23 waiter at a restaurant was asked by few women to deliver food at their house as they were facing problems to come daily. He recollects the incident - “I agreed and they told me to sit in the car so that they could show me the house. They gave me a sweet which was laced and once I was at their house, they gave me milk that had a drug due to which I fell unconscious,” narrated Khalil. He said when he woke up he found himself disrobed with the women forcing themselves onto him and torturing him.
According to assistant superintendent of police Asad Raza, the women sexually assaulted Khalil for four days, and then threw him near Qayyumabad river. “His condition is really bad ... his genitals are bleeding and he cannot walk properly,” said Raza. He also reported that the women belonged to rich families of Karachi’s Clifton area so the case might get complicated.

Monday, February 02, 2009

Guess who ??

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Post you replies in the comment box. The photos of the winner(s) will be published on CnC !

Colleges Closed in Tamil Nadu

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Minutes back a cousin of mine pinged me to tell that her college, a leading b-school at Chennai has been closed and her exam scheduled for tomorrow stands cancelled.
I was shocked to know the reason - the state government of Tamil Nadu has ordered all government and private colleges and hostels to close for an indefinite period.

This decision came early today morning while people on CnC were busy reading about situation in Pakistan and others were discussing about yesterday’s cricket match between India and Sri Lanka.

A Tamil youth, Muthukumar had immolated himself in protest against Lankan troops’ operation in the island country. Muthukumar worked with a Tamil journal, in his four-page dying declaration asked students not to allow anyone to bury his body and instead urged them to use it as a tool to further the cause of Sri Lankan Tamils.
This action stirred loud protest by the student community against the LTTE supremo V Prabhakaran and also India for its alleged military support to Lanka.
More than 10,000 people including students and political and social activists on Saturday attended his funeral. PMK founder Dr S Ramadoss, MDMK general secretary Vaiko, CPI leaders D Pandian and R Nallakannu, VCK president Thol Thirumavalavan, Tamil National Movement leader, P Nedumaran and several others were present at Muthukumar's Kolathur residence in suburban Chennai. Shops and commercial establishments in the area downed shutters to condole the youth's death.
The protesters torched a state-owned bus near Vellore, while 225 people were arrested in Thanjavur when they tried to lay siege on the Air Force station. They were protesting against the alleged use of the Air Force station for sending arms to Lanka.
BJP and Nationalist Congress Party have backed a newly-formed Sri Lankan Tamils Protection Movement's call for a general strike in the state on the 4th of February, seeking ceasefire in Sri Lanka. Interesting to note the date coincides with Sri Lankan Independence Day. The aim of the movement is to protect Tamils and protest against their genocide in the island republic.

Sitting here at Pune, I did barely get to know about all these developments. Our 24x7 news channels did talk about protests in TN, but then they never highlighted the gravity of the situation. Now that all colleges and hostels have been closed, things might even turn worse. The State and Central government should now act to the situation and issue a public statement to clarify their stand on this issue and try to restore normalcy at the earliest.

Sunday, February 01, 2009

The girl who silenced the world.

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I don't think words would be necessary in this post after you watch the video below.


Comments are invited.

Diary of a Pakistani schoolgirl

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I am sure all of us feel that it’s high time that India takes strong measures against Pakistan. We are being too soft on terror and handling the situation very diplomatically.
We have given evidence to them, gave them rights to conduct their own investigation, didn’t use force and for that matter didn’t give them a deadline to eliminate terrorist camps.

On 8th of January, there was a front page article in Times of India on “The advance of Taliban” and it showed in terms of distances in kilometers how close our cities are to places occupied by Taliban.

But it was today that I was so moved by an article on BBC Urdu online - extracts from a diary of school girl Pakistan. Her firsthand description of things happening around her made me realize that I was a little wrong in identifying the enemy. It’s not all Pakistanis that I should keep cursing, ordinary citizens there are in a crisis. The Pakistan, with whom we had fought 5 wars, is now fighting hard to avoid a hostile take over by the extremists. God knows how and when this would change and what’s in store for future.

"Diary of a Pakistani schoolgirl"

SATURDAY 3 JANUARY: I AM AFRAID
I had a terrible dream yesterday with military helicopters and the Taleban. I have had such dreams since the launch of the military operation in Swat. My mother made me breakfast and I went off to school. I was afraid going to school because the Taleban had issued an edict banning all girls from attending schools.
Only 11 students attended the class out of 27. The number decreased because of Taleban's edict. My three friends have shifted to Peshawar, Lahore and Rawalpindi with their families after this edict.
On my way from school to home I heard a man saying 'I will kill you'. I hastened my pace and after a while I looked back if the man was still coming behind me. But to my utter relief he was talking on his mobile and must have been threatening someone else over the phone.

SUNDAY 4 JANUARY: I HAVE TO GO TO SCHOOL
Today is a holiday and I woke up late, around 10 am. I heard my father talking about another three bodies lying at Green Chowk (crossing). I felt bad on hearing this news. Before the launch of the military operation we all used to go to Marghazar, Fiza Ghat and Kanju for picnics on Sundays. But now the situation is such that we have not been out on picnic for over a year and a half.
We also used to go for a walk after dinner but now we are back home before sunset. Today I did some household chores, my homework and played with my brother. But my heart was beating fast - as I have to go to school tomorrow.

MONDAY 5 JANUARY: DO NOT WEAR COLOURFUL DRESSES
I was getting ready for school and about to wear my uniform when I remembered that our principal had told us not to wear uniforms - and come to school wearing normal clothes instead. So I decided to wear my favourite pink dress. Other girls in school were also wearing colourful dresses and the school presented a homely look.
My friend came to me and said, 'for God's sake, answer me honestly, is our school going to be attacked by the Taleban?' During the morning assembly we were told not to wear colourful clothes as the Taleban would object to it.
I came back from school and had tuition sessions after lunch. In the evening I switched on the TV and heard that curfew had been lifted from Shakardra after 15 days. I was happy to hear that because our English teacher lived in the area and she might be coming to school now.

Swat has been a centre of militant activity

WEDNESDAY 7 JANUARY: NO FIRING OR FEAR
I have come to Bunair to spend Muharram (a Muslim holiday) on vacation. I adore Bunair because of its mountains and lush green fields. My Swat is also very beautiful but there is no peace. But in Bunair there is peace and tranquillity. Neither is there any firing nor any fear. We all are very happy.
Today we went to Pir Baba mausoleum and there were lots of people there. People are here to pray while we are here for an excursion. There are shops selling bangles, ear rings, lockets and other artificial jewellery. I thought of buying something but nothing impressed - my mother bought ear rings and bangles.

FRIDAY 9 JANUARY: THE MAULANA GOES ON LEAVE?
Today at school I told my friends about my trip to Bunair. They said that they were sick and tired of hearing the Bunair story. We discussed the rumours about the death of Maulana Shah Dauran, who used to give speeches on FM radio. He was the one who announced the ban on girls attending school.
Some girls said that he was dead but others disagreed. The rumours of his death are circulating because he did not deliver a speech the night before on FM radio. One girl said that he had gone on leave.
Since there was no tuition on Friday, I played the whole afternoon. I switched on the TV in the evening and heard about the blasts in Lahore. I said to myself 'why do these blasts keep happening in Pakistan?'

WEDNESDAY 14 JANUARY: I MAY NOT GO TO SCHOOL AGAIN
I was in a bad mood while going to school because winter vacations are starting from tomorrow. The principal announced the vacations but did not mention the date the school was to reopen. This was the first time this has happened.
In the past the reopening date was always announced clearly. The principal did not inform us about the reason behind not announcing the school reopening, but my guess was that the Taleban had announced a ban on girls' education from 15 January.
This time round, the girls were not too excited about vacations because they knew if the Taleban implemented their edict they would not be able to come to school again. Some girls were optimistic that the schools would reopen in February but others said that their parents had decided to shift from Swat and go to other cities for the sake of their education.
Since today was the last day of our school, we decided to play in the playground a bit longer. I am of the view that the school will one day reopen but while leaving I looked at the building as if I would not come here again.

The Taleban have repeatedly targeted schools in Swat

THURSDAY JANUARY 15: NIGHT FILLED WITH ARTILLERY FIRE
The night was filled with the noise of artillery fire and I woke up three times. But since there was no school I got up later at 10 am. Afterwards, my friend came over and we discussed our homework.
Today is 15 January, the last day before the Taleban's edict comes into effect, and my friend was discussing homework as if nothing out of the ordinary had happened.
Today, I also read the diary written for the BBC (in Urdu) and published in the newspaper. My mother liked my pen name 'Gul Makai' and said to my father 'why not change her name to Gul Makai?' I also like the name because my real name means 'grief stricken'.
My father said that some days ago someone brought the printout of this diary saying how wonderful it was. My father said that he smiled but could not even say that it was written by his daughter.

FRIDAY 18 JANUARY: NO POLICE IN SIGHT
My father told us that the government would protect our schools. The prime minister has also raised this issue. I was quite happy initially, but now I know but this will not solve our problem. Here in Swat we hear everyday that so many soldiers were killed and so many were kidnapped at such and such place. But the police are nowhere to be seen.
Our parents are also very scared. They told us they would not send us to school until or unless the Taleban themselves announce on the FM channel that girls can go to school. The army is also responsible for the disruption in our education.
Today a boy from our locality went to school and he was told by the principal to go back home because a curfew was to be imposed soon. But when he reached home he came to know that there was no curfew, instead his school was closed down because the army was to move through the road near his school.

MONDAY 19 JANUARY: ARMY IN THEIR BUNKERS

Five more schools have been destroyed, one of them was near my house. I am quite surprised, because these schools were closed so why did they also need to be destroyed? No one has gone to school following the deadline given by the Taleban.
Today I went to my friend's house and she told me that a few days back someone killed Maulana Shah Dauran's uncle; she said that it may be that the Taleban destroyed the schools in anger at this.
She also said that no one has made the Taleban suffer but when they are hurt they take it out on our schools. But the army is not doing anything about it. They are sitting in their bunkers on top of the hills. They slaughter goats and eat with pleasure.

The Taleban routinely carry out public floggings in Swat

THURSDAY 22 JANUARY : VERY DANGEROUS SITUATION
I am quite bored sitting at home following the closures of schools.
Some of my friends have left Swat because the situation here is very dangerous. I do not leave home. At night Maulana Shah Dauran (the Taleban cleric who announced the ban on girls attending school) once again warned females not to leave home.
He also warned that they would blow up those schools which are used by the security forces as security posts.
Father told us that security forces have arrived at the boys' and girls' school in Haji Baba area. May God keep them safe. Maulana Shah Dauran also said in his speech on FM radio that three 'thieves' will be lashed tomorrow and whoever wants to see can come and watch.
I am surprised that when we have suffered so much, why people still go and watch such things? Why also doesn't the army stop them from carrying out such acts? I have seen wherever the army is there is usually a Taleban member nearby, but where there is a Taleban member the army will always not go.

SATURDAY 24 JANUARY: NO NAMES ON THE HONOURS BOARD
Our annual exams are due after the vacations but this will only be possible if the Taleban allow girls to go to school. We were told to prepare certain chapters for the exam but I do not feel like studying.
As from yesterday the army has taken control of the educational institutions for protection. It seems that it is only when dozens of schools have been destroyed and hundreds others closed down that the army thinks about protecting them. Had they conducted their operations here properly, this situation would not have arisen.
Muslim Khan (a Swat Taleban spokesman) has said that those schools housing the army would be attacked. We will be more afraid of having the army in our schools than ever. There is a board in our school which is called the Honours Board. The name of the girl achieving the highest marks in annual exams is put on this board. It seems that no names will be put on it this year.

The army is accused of not doing enough to protect schools

MONDAY 26 JANUARY: HELICOPTER TOFFEES
I woke to the roar of heavy artillery fire early in the morning. Earlier we were afraid of the noise of helicopters and now the artillery. I remember the first time when helicopters flew over our house on the start of an operation. We got so scared that we hid.
All the children in my neighbourhood were also very scared.
One day toffees were thrown from the helicopters and this continued for some time. Now whenever we hear the choppers flying we run out and wait for the toffees but it does not happen anymore. A while back my father gave us the good news that he was taking all of us to Islamabad tomorrow. We are very happy.

WEDNESDAY 28 JANUARY: TEARS IN THE EYES OF MY PARENTS
My father fulfilled his promise and we reached Islamabad yesterday. On our way from Swat I was very scared because we had heard that the Taleban conduct searches. But nothing of the sort happened to us. It was instead the army who conducted the search. The moment we left Swat our fears also subsided.
Many are opposed to the militants' policy of closing girls' schools
We are staying with our father's friend in Islamabad. It is my first visit to the city. It's beautiful with nice bungalows and wide roads. But as compared to my Swat city it lacks natural beauty. Father took us to Lok Virsa museum and I learnt a lot. We also have such a museum in Swat but I don't know if it will remain undamaged from the fighting.
My father bought popcorn from an old man outside Lok Virsa. When the vendor spoke to us in Pashtu my father asked him if he was from Islamabad. The old man replied: "Do you think Islamabad can ever belong to Pashtuns?"
He said that he hailed from Momand Agency, but because of an ongoing military operation was forced to leave his abode and head for the city. At that moment I saw tears in my parents' eyes.

Well we should now understand the situation that people like her and her family are facing. The international community should wake up and help such innocent families. In the name of religion, and misrepresentation and misunderstanding of the holy scriptures ordinary people are getting exploited and are losing their homes, peace and happiness.