Sunday, March 29, 2009

Behenji-the queen of India?

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The question has been raised many a times. “What if Mrs. Mayawati became the Prime Minister of India?” We all have our versions of answers to it. When I raise the question on CnC, I know that my readers are mostly above the poverty line, have access to the essential resources that are needed to sustain a healthy-happy life (the access to internet gladly a recent addition to the ‘essentials’ list) and can read and write English (which is still a ‘phoren’ language for most of India.
I want to ask another question here, “Why can’t ‘Behenji’ become the Prime Minister of India?”
A friend I was talking to suggests that it is a matter of shame. It is hard for the educated Indian to accept someone like Mayawati as the Prime Minister. I’m trying to explore the reasons that this ‘shame’ constitutes.
English: She has not been able to exhibit her command on the English language. Some argue that the Indian PM would need to convince a global audience on a number of issues and English is the language of the world. On the contrary, many ‘world’ leaders do not speak (or understand properly) the English language. The fact that Behenji addressing election rallies in Tamil Nadu and Andra Pradesh is testimony to the fact that she has indeed evolved into a leader of national caliber and language has not been a bar.
Vision: Many feel that Mayawati lacks a vision that may be needed for a person before she dons such a post. She has in fact shown a tremendous vision and has been able to unite the ‘dalit’ of India across the borders of states. And unlike the previous ‘dalit leaders’ she has slowly incorporated even the higher classes into BSP’s voting class and the contestants.
Corruption: Mayawati has been in the midst of all sorts of controversies related to issues of corruption. The Taj corridor, the expensive birthday parties, the personal wealth are all pointers of how funds have been mishandled by BSP in Uttar Pradesh. There are very few political parties or politicians who have a clean record in India. I’m not justifying her wrong with the wrong of someone else but it would be interesting to see how she reacts when she’s the queen of India!
‘Dalit beti’: The story of Mayawati is amazing. A girl child in a dalit family in Uttar Pradesh dreaming to become the PM of India is amazing in itself! But what adds to her achievements is how she has tried to evolve after each little step. The way she commands respect from all the regions of India (be it only ‘dalit respect’) is commendable. There are very few leaders who have been able to do such a thing. The ‘Behenji’ who spoke of ‘Tilak, tarazu aur talwar; inko maaro joote chaar’ is now talking of a political party which has broken the barriers of caste and creed in India. ‘Brahmin’ voters voting for the ‘dalit’ candidate and dalit candidate winning on upper caste populated constituencies is quite a feat.
Whether Mayawati does manage to become the PM of India in this election or not is something all of us would watch out for, but her emergence as a political authority across India is undeniable. It may take an ‘MGR’ to become an ‘Amma’ but it certainly takes much more than ‘Kanshiram’ to become a ‘Behenji’.

Saturday, March 28, 2009

Dogs of Bangalore

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bangalore stray dogs
Bangalore has been many things to many people. A retiree's paradise, a garden city, the Indian silicon valley, an outsourcing hub and so many other names are given to this city which has outgrown its own resources in so many ways. Another thing that may be added to B'lore's credit could be the dog lovers that the city has in abundance. And where there are dog lovers there are dogs, and oh so many of them!
In a survey done in 2001, it was estimated that Bangalore has a dog population of more than 3.25 lakh out of which a majority (61%) are strays. And there is no reason to believe that this dog population has not grown proportionately with the human population.
The dogs of Bangalore are relatively healthier than the usual (my yardstick were the dogs in Uttar Pradesh and Tamil Nadu and the dogs in both these places under-perform when compared to the ones in Bangalore!). And when a dog is healthier it is also more dangerous. I'm your ordinary dog lover (the kind of person who likes dogs, loves them and does pretty ordinary things to prove his love like feeding them a piece of biscuit sometimes) so I don't have anything against these animals (after all we have been living with dogs in harmony for generations) but there are times when these little bastards (forgive my language but I really did mean it and don't have a substitute for that word) can team up against you and challenge your 'freedom of (harmless) walk' in their neighbourhood.
Ask any guy/gal working in a call centre in Bangalore and all of them would have a harrowing tale to tell about how they were 'attacked' by a hound of dogs while they were returning late night from work. I've had a similar experience twice (thought of going out for a walk at 2:00 AM with a KF can in hand) after which I decided to make those neighbourhood hoods my friends and tried not to forget them whenever I was having biscuits. Life has been much easier around my house since.
Some hard hitting facts are there about dogs and the city of Bangalore.
  • Very few pets in Bangalore are registered.
  • Most stray dogs (86%) are rabid.
  • Bangalore has a dog:human ratio of 1:12 (old stats, things are worse now).

But, whatever said and done, a dog lover is a dog lover for life. Bangalore has more dog shows than any other city in India. The average number of dogs per house in Bangalore is much higher than any other city in India. Dogs of Bangalore are much healthier than those of any other city (based on experience, please correct me if I'm wrong).
Finally, since this article talks about dogs and the love that the city of Bangalore shows towards them I leave you with a picture that I found stuck on a tree here in a park a few days back. If you are able to find 'Tiger' and report it to its owners CnC would earn some karma points!
tiger missing bangalore

Friday, March 27, 2009

Book a TATA Nano Online

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After listening to reports about the recent rush on the websites of TATA motors and TATA Nano, I was curious to check them.
http://tatanano.inservices.tatamotors.com

The website looks simple with loads of features. Along with all the details about the vehicle, picture gallery, the variants, the price list, booking, press release, message from their Chairman, even communities like forums/blogs and even popular networking sites like Orkut and Facebook.

Some of the features of Nano are as follows -
• Mileage: 23.6 kmpl as per ARAI
• Exceeds Indian Safety Standards
• Spacious Interiors
• Top Speed : 195 kmph
• Smallest turning radius : 4m
• High Ground Clearance : 180mm
• High Gradability : 30 %
• Power Windows
• Central Locking
• Fog Lamps
• 3 variants - Nano, Nano CX (AC with Heater) and Nano LX (AC with Heater)
• 6 colour variants
Some basic feature like Tubeless Types and Fog lights are not even available in Marutis and Santros

But the best part is that, it has even come up with online booking, which I don’t think we have had in Indian auto industry. Day by day, we see a huge rise in number of internet users and buyers on net, so online booking facility of Nano is really a good move. All credits to the TATAs.

Apart from booking your Nano online, you can also "build" it on the company website, which means that you can select the colour, decals, wheels, fog lamps, seat covers, and dashboard. Along with this, there are features like free downloads, contests, and so on. Talking about downloads, Tata Nano lovers can download wallpapers of the car. These pictures include images of the Tata Nano from the Geneva Motor Show, The Who's Who of India and the World Take a Look at the Tata Nano, The Tata Nano Launch Event at the Delhi Auto Expo, and the Standard and the Luxury versions of the car along with its interiors. One can view YouTube-powered videos of the car too.
As reported by The Economic Times, Tata Motors will sell the Nano not just through Tata car dealerships across the country, but also through retail outlets like Westside and Croma, both of which belong to the Tata Group.

Thus, the Tata Nano has a strong online presence and its novel website is just adding to it. Though I checked the site to look for reasons for it to crash soon after the commercial launch, it found it pretty fast and user friendly. But then now after looking at this feature, I am more anxious to see how it would handle traffic once the booking starts.

Thursday, March 26, 2009

Congress Manifesto

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On Tuesday, the Congress President Sonia Gandhi released a ‘low on reform and high on populism’ manifesto. Some of the Highlights of Congress manifesto are as follows:

• Enactment of a National Food Security Act ; 25 kilos of wheat or rice for Rs 3 a month to those below poverty line.
• Maximum possible security to each and every citizen.
• Highest level of defence preparedness and further steps for the welfare of the defence forces and their families.
• Accelerated process of police reforms.
• Increase in the daily wage paid under the NREGA from Rs 80 to Rs 100.
• Health security for all.
• Comprehensive social security to those at special risk.
• Quality education affordable to everyone.
• Nationwide skill development programme.
• Expansion of schemes for improving the well-being of farmers.
• Democratic and professional functioning of cooperatives.
• Greater impetus to empowerment of weaker sections of society.
• Control of communalism and caste atrocities.
• Sharp focus on the special needs of children, especially the girl child.
• Making elected panchayat institutions financially strong.
• Connecting all villages to a broadband network in three years.
• Special focus to small entrepreneurs and to small and medium enterprises.
• Maintenance of high growth with fiscal prudence and low inflation.
• Introduction of goods and services tax from April 1, 2010.
• A completely new look to urban governance.
• A new deal to our youth to participate in governance.
• Protection of India's natural environment and steps to rejuvenate it.
• Massive renewal of science and technology infrastructure.
• Judicial reforms to cut delays in courts.
• To continue to be sensitive to regional aspirations
• Energy security for the country.
• Steps to preserve and promote our heritage.
• To continue independent, pro-India foreign policy.
• To intensify the involvement of overseas Indians in development.

For the full text, click here

Interesting to note that, it doesn't focus much about the CHANGE as Obama's campaign did, nor does it mention a word about economic slowdown and revival strategy.

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Jaspal Bhatti comes up with "Recession Party"

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After enthralling the audience with his dance moves on Nach Baliye, one of our best-known comedians, Jaspal Bhatti has now decided to contest the elections from Chandigarh. He launched his own ‘Recession Party’ and would only aim to become the Prime Minister.

Some news items had I could collect, from various sources, about his first speech are as follows:
* He first declared that he would not spend a penny on elections and the crowd laughed at him. He immediately clarified that he just meant the spending out of his own pocket.
* Funds from any party that wants to cut their opponents' votes are welcome. Those wants to make pre-poll alliance deals with our party may also fund us.
* Recession fund would be created and those who are still insulated from the heat of recession would be requested to donate. Keeping in mind the world wide recession, our party will not put undue pressure on businessmen, builders and traders to collect the fund forcefully. They can donate us at their will.
* Those who support us now with their sweat, soul and money will be given ample chance to reap the benefits when we come to power.
* I make it clear that I am jumping into politics to beat the recession and improve my own financial health.
* We hope all jobless, out of business and underpaid people will create our solid vote bank.
* People in the past have voted in favour of Sat Pal Jain, Pawan Kumar Bansal and Harmohan Dhawan. I request you to try me once. I assure I won’t be more ineffective than any of them.
* Our Aim: we will create more slums in and around Chandigarh to win the parliamentary and more Oscars as well. The beauty of the city will stand out more shiningly amidst cluster of slums.
* We will not to divide the votes on the basis of caste, creed or religion. Instead we will create a wedge between the foolish and the intellectuals. We do not want the votes of so called intellectuals who after getting victimized in the hands of their leaders support them every time.

The supporters of Recession Party came up with loud cheers and number of slogans like : -

Tauba yeh recession, tauba be-rozgaar
Tera political atteyachaar
Ghar bikwa ke sadak pe la doon
Lakhpati se kangal bana doon
Recession ka nikle yeh dhooan
Seene mein jalti hai armanon ki arthi
Arre paanch saal mein dekho kya hoga
Sonia khele kursi se
Mamta se haath milaye
Maya maya karte sab par
Mayavati haath na aye
Rajnaath aur jaitli jhagre
Advani ko bhukhaar
Tuaba tera ....


Jaspal Bhatti also told the media that their party would soon release their party manifesto although it will only be a customary exercise and the public should not believe in what they say in the document.

I am wondering if our Political System has really become such a joke? or is it just that the man is doing what he does the best ?

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

THE OBAMA DECEPTION

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Obama has become a synonym for good leader and a new inspiration for the youth world-over. I happened to come across a friend, whose excuse for not being interested in the coming General Elections is because we don't have someone like Obama as Prime Minister candidate.

In international relations theory, the term "new world order" refers to a new period of history evidencing a dramatic change in world political thought and the balance of power. However, in conspiracy theory, the term "New World Order" (the capital letters are distinguishing) refers to the advent of a cryptocratic or totalitarian world government.

Just released in the US, Alex Jones's The Obama Deception, is a hard-hitting film that completely destroys the myth that Barack Obama is working for the best interests of the American people.

The title of this film is slightly misleading because it is not a film about Obama per se, his questionable character, or even the legitimacy of his presidency in light of the questions surrounding the true origin of his birth. It does cover some of his campaign messages/promises and his subsequent reversals upon assuming office.
The film tries to establish that the international banks are planning to loot the people of the United States and turn them into slaves on a Global Plantation.

Click to watch the trailer

So yet another of those interesting conspiracy theories that I love watching. Waiting for it to release in India or atleast to grab a DVD.

Monday, March 16, 2009

Design a Symbol for Rupee

4 comments
I visited the website of Ministry of Finance to have a look at the Monthly Economic Report, but what i came across was something more interesting!
The Ministry has began a public competition to formulate a design for the Indian Rupee. We do use abbreviations like Rs or INR (Indian Rupee), but unlike major currencies we don't have a symbol.

The contest, open for all resident Indian, closes at 1300 hours on 15th April 2009.. For more details click here.

When i googled more about the competition, I came across mixed views from international community. Some feel it to be obvious indication of emergence of a new player in the global economy, while others blamed the competition format. It's the same route that Russia went down in the 1990s, in its search, so far unsuccessful, for a symbol to represent the rouble.
There were also many doubts raised about the implementation of the symbol. According to one estimate, when the euro was introduced in 1999 it cost Europe's biggest companies more than $50bn to update their computer systems to deal with the changeover.

But I am sure we would work our way out and try to come up with a cheaper technique to upgrading our systems and codes.
One suggestion to all people: focus on graphics and technical application as well. Try to understand and analyze how would it look on the web, keyboards, LED Screens and even on mobile phones.

Sunday, March 15, 2009

Find out charges against MPs

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Couple of days back, I was ashamed to see a report by Centre for Media Studies, which showed how Money is being used to lure voters and its phenomenon was spread across all demographic groups - young and old, poor and rich, urban and rural.
A shocking 47 per cent voters in Karnataka accepted money to vote in 2008 Assembly elections.

Today, the Election Commission has disqualified 3,423 candidates for not filing the details of the expenses incurred during the last Lok Sabha or recent assembly polls which they contested. Of them, a major chunk of 1,075 candidates are from Uttar Pradesh and 616 from Bihar who had contested the assembly polls in these two states respectively.

To know about charges against MPs in your area, you can send an SMS to 567678 typing NCPINCODE and you will receive a response regarding the criminal charges against the current MPs from your area.

Please spread awareness about this service by sharing it with others.

Saturday, March 14, 2009

Virtual fame, real money ;)

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The new media has made quite a few people 'disturbingly' famous overnight! What they do once they become famous is another issue but the ways in which they get fame is worth reading about. A lady writes some negative stuff about one Barkha Dutt and becomes famous after being sued by her, another person impersonates as Steve Jobs, gets famous, decides he needs to tell the world that he's a fake Steve, gets all the more famous, and the examples are countless.
There is a 'Numa Numa' guy who 'lip-sung' a Romanian song and people found it to be irresistibly funny. What followed was millions of views, one of the most subscribed channel, stage shows and MONEY. Interestingly, the lip-sung version of the song overshot the popularity of the original song by leaps and bounds! While the original song features the ideal slim, trendy singers running around in amazing locations, this guy is fat, is wearing a sweat shirt and sitting on his chair with a backdrop of an unimpressive room.

Another fame 'victim' is 'Fred'. He is a normal 16 (or something) year old with an ability to speak like a 6 year old (that's what he says, to me it sounds more like some duck in DuckTales). In his videos he is a 6 year old, hyperactive kid who lives alone with his mother (who I think is a drug addict). Each of his videos are impressive, funny and very funny! From youtube he has now moved to TV. BBC carried his story some time back, he does programs for a few TV channels, stars in video songs (search for Kev Blaze and fred on youtube)etc.

Then there's this guy (again from youtube) who takes up challenges from his viewers. In one of his recent challenges he was asked to paint his whole body purple. His 'challenge completed' video was a featured video in youtube. Lots of views, lots of fame!

Bloggers' meet at St. Joseph's, Bangalore organized by IBNMS.

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St. Joseph's Bangalore
BlogCampBangaluru was my first 'blogging un-conferences' organized by IBNMS and it got me hooked beyond doubt.

It had a sluggish start (Saturday morning 9:30 is quite an ask for Bangalore, the city which celebrates weekdays like Christmas) with people trickling in slowly as we began. Pramodh from Injoos started off with his presentation on how bloggers can find a business model around what they 'love' to do. Followed by a gentleman who has been a veteran journalist with Hindu and has recently given up his job and switched to blogging and online publishing as his bread and butter! Mr. Anand Parthasarthy is an old man with an energy that puts quite a lot of people, (like me) who love to call themselves 'young', to shame and his years of experience in the traditional journalism has backed his decision to switch to blogging as a money making device.
Seagate, the principal sponsors behind the event, came in next. It's an organizers plight to have the sponsor talk delivered by a monotonous 'corporate' guy without passion for his product! Even the funny anecdotes by Ajay failed to keep the spirit of the meet up :( I'm yet to see Steve Jobs live so can't generalize the statement but most 'corporate' announcements or releases have failed to impress me, that's why I look forward to reading about the product when my favourite blogger does a post on it!
There was a talk by Ajay Jain, the person behind this particular blog meet, on how the relationship between PR and the blogging community is finding new meanings and what needs to be done to strengthen the bond. Amit Gupta talked about 'Blogging beyond english', I was surprised to know that there was such a big community which blogged in other Indian languages (you can check the Blog Camp wiki for the presentation).
Dr. Ashish Gupta (if I write all that he 'is', I wont find place to write anything else, so I'll just say that he's been a Venture Capitalist of late) expressed his ideas on the difficulty (and near impossibility in the current scenario) for a blogger to find an investor to fund her. We have our own ideas though and IBM's arrogance was Xerox's, Apple's (and so many others like them) chance to make money in a market which the 'big guys' didn't even realize existed!
There were 2 speakers who personally impressed me a lot. A 67 (I guess, based on the fact that he retired in 2004) years old gentleman, Mr. Prabir Ghose who started blogging very late in his life and is now an authority on the web and a charming young gentleman, Mr. Keerthi Kiran who is one of the few people who has tried to contribute to the society by empowering others (like him) to take an affirmative action.
If you are under the age of 25 and want to make a difference to the country you live in and are proud of, do visit Grass Routes and find out more about it.

PS: Its a shame that the head count kept going down as the day progressed. Lets blame it on those who left early, they were at the wrong place to start with :). It was a great platform to get in touch with people who think like you (or 'un-like' you but 'think' at least), Seagate sponsored lunch was one of the best 'cold pizzas' I've had ever 'cuz of the company I had it with!
blog camp bangaluru

UPA Government's Report to the People

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I am sure you would have come across people who associate themselves with Political Parties and vote loyally for the same party over the years.
Out of my curiosity, I happened to visit some of these Party sites to find out if there are any Principles set and followed by all the parties in India and how far do these parties stick to them.
And it wasn't surprising to note that, not all parties have a true philosophy and those who do, it is only on paper.

During this search mission, I came across something interesting. As as MBA student, we did check and analyze various companies just on the basis of their annual reports but here is the Report of UPA government to its people.

Even I felt the file to be bulky, but mind it guys its a must read..

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

e-mail Aaya Paisa Laaya

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I am sure each of us would have earned millions of dollars and pounds online, be it Yahoo or Google, lottery prizes keep pouring in our inbox. Sometime back I even won was a lottery by FIFA World Cup 2010, South Africa.
But today I was surprised to receive an interesting mail -

"Dearest

I believe you are a highly respected personality, I am writing this mail with tears, sadness and pains. I know it will come to you as a surprise since we haven't known or come across each other before considering the fact that I sourced your email contact through the Internet in search of trusted person who can assist me.

I am Cecilia Garang 24 years old female from the Republic of Sudan, the Daughter of Late Dr. John Garang. Before my late father’s death in Uganda on 31st of July 2005, was vice president and former rebel leader of Sudan and was kill by Sudan President Omar al Bashir in helicopter crash. You can read more about my father in the link below. http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/africa/2134220.stm.

I am constrained to contact you because of the maltreatment which I am receiving from my step mother. She planned to take away all my late father's treasury and properties from me since the unexpected death of my beloved Father. Meanwhile I wanted to travel to Europe, but she hide away my international passport and other valuable documents. Luckily she did not discover where I kept my father's File which contained important documents. Now I am presently staying in the Mission in Burkina Faso. I am seeking for long term relationship and investment assistance. My father of blessed memory deposited the sum of US$12.7 Million in one bank in Burkina Faso with my name as the next of kin. I had contacted the Bank to clear the deposit but the Branch Manager told me that being a refugee, my status according to the local law does not authorize me to carry out the operation. However, he advised me to provide a trustee who will stand on my behalf. I had wanted to inform my stepmother about this deposit but I am afraid that she will not offer me anything after the release of the money.

Therefore, I decide to seek for your help in transferring the money into your bank account while I will relocate to your country and settle down with you. As you indicated your interest to help me I will give you the account number and the contact of the bank where my late beloved father deposited the money with my name as the next of kin. It is my intention to compensate you with 20% of the total money for your assistance and the balance shall be my investment in any profitable venture which you will recommend to me as have no any idea about foreign investment. Please all communications should be through this email address only for confidential purposes.

Thanking you a lot in anticipation of your quick response. I will send you details in my next email for you to know me well.

Yours Cecilia"

Monday, March 09, 2009

Is every moment a moment of pride for us ?

2 comments
A day's diary in Bangalore (but it could be just another city in India for just another person like me (or you)!)

Morning 10:00 AM :
I get on an auto, minutes later I realize that the metre is faulty. He charges Rs. 90 for a distance which is usually some Rs. 60. I argue and close the deal at some 70 bucks. He is happy, I'm relatively happy.
Afternoon 2:00 PM :
I need to get a couple of certificates attested. I go to a local hospital. There is a board which says, "No attestations would be entertained." Just below that sign board sits a man on a desk. His desk is full of many certificates that have come for attestations. His rate to get it done by the hospital authorities is just Rs.500 to Rs. 1000 depending on the number of certificates and your urgency.
Afternoon 3:00 PM :
I board a government bus. The bus conductor asks me Rs. 10 for a distance which costs Rs. 15. I am surprised. He takes the money but refuses to give me a ticket and with a sly smile says that he gave me a discount.
Evening 5:00 PM :
An office colleague is getting posted to another city. He cheats his landlord with Rs.4,000 and sneaks his way out of his apartment to the airport.
Evening 7:00 PM :
Another auto driver gets into a trouble with me. This time I make sure he gets to a traffic police guy. I'm off after paying the usual, legitimate amount. Out comes a Rs.100 bill, goes into the traffic policeman's pocket and everything else starts to run normal.
Night 9:00 PM :
I want to cool the day off with a can of beer. The shopkeeper refuses to sell the beer at MRP (maximum retail price). I go to another shop, here the rate is a little less but exceeds the MRP again. Another shop, same result. I refuse to buy. I am pissed (its not always about Rs.5 extra for the beer can right?).

I'm so proud of everything around me. I'm proud of slumdog's success. I'm proud of Sachin Tendulkar. I'm proud of myself, my family and my friends!

Sunday, March 08, 2009

Earth Hour 2009

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There are lots of things I can think of doing in dark for an hour. You?
This year India will join rest of the world by observing 'Earth Hour' to save energy as well as environment on March 28. Let's make passionate love to our planet and turn off the lights for an hour.

931 cities and towns in 80 countries have already committed to VOTE EARTH for Earth Hour 2009, as part of the worlds first global election between Earth and global warming.
WWF are urging the world to VOTE EARTH and reach the target of 1 billion votes, which will be presented to world leaders at the Global Climate Change Conference in Copenhagen 2009. This meeting will determine official government policies to take action against global warming, which will replace the Kyoto Protocol. It is the chance for the people of the world to make their voice heard.
Earth Hour began in Sydney in 2007, when 2.2 million homes and businesses switched off their lights for one hour.
Here is a glimpse of Earth Hour 2008 :



This year India, especially Delhi and Mumbai will participate, he said adding that WWF was getting support from the government as well as the corporate houses. Lights would be switched off or dimmed at 11 PVR cinemas in Delhi and Mumbai and corporate offices.
Its a call to stand up and take control over the future of our planet.
Let us also VOTE EARTH by simply switching off lights for one hour, and join the world for Earth Hour - Saturday, March 28, 8:30-9:30pm.

Diary of a Pakistani Schoolgirl 3.0

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The seventh grade schoolgirl from Swat, Pakistan writes again -

SATURDAY 21 FEBRUARY
The situation in Swat is calming down gradually. Firing and artillery fire has also reduced. But people are still scared and they are afraid that the peace deal might be broken.
There are rumours that some Taleban commanders don't agree with this deal and say that they will keep fighting till their last breath. My heart beat rises when I hear such rumours. Why are they doing this? They say that they want to take revenge for Jamia Hafsa and the Red Mosque, but we are not the ones responsible for what happened there so why don't they take revenge on people who are responsible?
Moments ago Maulana Fazlullah (a pro-Taleban cleric) announced on his FM radio that he is lifting the ban from female education. He announced that girls can go to school till exams which are to be held on 17 March but they have to cover themselves.
I am very happy to hear this as I never thought this would ever happen.

SUNDAY 22 FEBRUARY
Today we went to Mingora's "cheena" market where one can only find things for women. We were very scared on our way to the market as the Taleban have imposed a ban on women going out for shopping.
On entering the market we were shocked to see that there were only a few women there, where as earlier it used to be a very crowded place and women used to push each other

MONDAY 23 FEBRUARY
When I got up I was very happy knowing that I will go to school today. At school some girls were wearing uniform whereas others were in casual clothes. During assembly girls looked extremely happy and were hugging each other.
After assembly the headmistress advised us to cover ourselves properly and wear the burqa because it is a condition put by the Taleban.
There were only 12 girls present in my class because some have migrated from Swat and some were not sent to school by their parents because of fear.
Four of my friends have already left Swat and another told me today that they are also moving to Rawalpindi. I was upset with her and asked her not to go as there is a peace accord and that situation is getting better gradually. But she said that conditions were very uncertain.
I am very sad. Four of my friends have already left and the last one is also leaving.

WEDNESDAY 25 FEBRUARY
My mother is not feeling well and father is out of town for a meeting so I prepared the breakfast and then went to school.
Today we played a lot in class and enjoyed ourselves like we used to before.
Nowadays helicopters don't appear frequently nor do we discuss much about the army and Taleban. In the afternoon my mother, cousin and I and went to the market. There was a time when I used to like wearing the burqa but not any more. I am fed up with this because it is a hindrance in walking.
There is gossip in Swat that one day a woman was wearing a traditional burqa. She fell and when a man tried to help her she refused and said "Don't help me brother, as this will bring immense pleasure to [Taleban leader] Maulana Fazlullah".
When we entered the shop in the market where we used to shop the shopkeeper laughed and told us he got scared thinking that we might be suicide bombers.

FRIDAY 27 FEBRUARY
I was so glad to see my two friends in school today. During the operation they had gone to Rawalpindi. They said that there was peace in Rawalpindi and the standard of life was also good but they both were anxiously waiting for peace to return in Swat so that they could come back.

MONDAY 1 MARCH
Attendance is getting better day by day and today 19 students were present out of 27. Exams are scheduled for 9 March and we try to spend more time studying.
Today I went to Cheena Market with others and shopped a lot because one of the shopkeepers was shutting down and had a clearance sale. Most of the shops in Cheena Market have been closed down.

Teachers greet each other in Mingora as a school reopens

We sleep well because there is no shelling these days. It is said that the Taleban are still carrying out their activities in their areas. They also loot the relief goods meant for the displaced persons.
My friend told me that her brother was quite amazed to see his acquaintance searching vehicles at night along with the Taleban. Her brother said that his acquaintance works as a labourer in the morning and along with the Taleban at night. Her brother asked him why he was with them if he was not a Talib. He replied that he earns in the morning and then at night while working with the Taleban.

TUESDAY 3 MARCH
My younger brother does not like going to school. He cries while going to school and is jubilant coming back home. But today he came back home crying and he said that he was scared. He said that whenever he saw someone he got scared that he might be kidnapped.
My brother often prays "O God bring peace to Swat and if not then bring either the US or China here".
There was another skirmish between the army and the Taleban and such incidents have taken place in the past few days. Today I heard the sound of mortar shells. People are again scared that the peace may not last for long. Some people are saying that the peace agreement is not permanent it is just a break in fighting.

WEDNESDAY 4 MARCH
Today our teacher asked us how many girls listen to FM radio and most of the girls said that they used to but not anymore. But few girls said that they still listen to it. Girls were of the view that once FM radio transmission is stopped only then peace can return to Swat.
The Taleban say that they use FM radio to propagate teachings of the Koran but commander Khalil after a brief teaching of the Koran subtly switches over to threaten opponents. Announcements regarding fighting, activities and murders are made on FM radio.
During our recess today we saw helicopters flying. The helicopters fly very low over our school. Girls called out to the soldiers and they waved back. Soldiers seem to be tired of waving now.

International Women's Day

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8 th of March, celebrated as International Working Woman's Day (IWD), is a major day of global celebration for the economic, political and social achievements of women.
The day is an official holiday in Albania, Algeria, Armenia, Azerbaijan, Belarus, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Brazil, Burkina Faso, Cameroon, China, Cuba, Georgia, Italy, Israel, Laos, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, FYROM, Moldova, Mongolia, Montenegro, Romania, Russia, Serbia, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan, Ukraine, Uzbekistan, Vietnam, and Zambia, and is observed by men giving the women in their lives - mothers, wives, girlfriends, daughters, colleagues, etc., flowers and small gifts.
In some countries (such as Romania) it is also observed as an equivalent of Mother's Day, where children also give small presents to their mothers and grandmothers.

In Italy, to celebrate the day, men give yellow mimosas to women. Yellow mimosas and chocolate are also one of the most common March 8 presents in Russia.
In Bosnia and Herzegovina, Brazil, Croatia, Hungary, Romania, Moldova, Macedonia, Montenegro, Poland, Bulgaria, Slovenia and Serbia the custom of giving women flowers still prevails.
In countries like Portugal and Romania, it is usual, at the night of 8 March, groups of women celebrate in "women-only" dinners and parties.
The United Nations supports this day and coins new themes for each year. Some of the global United Nation themes used for International Women's Day to date:
- 2009: Women and men united to end violence against women and girls
- 2008: Investing in Women and Girls
- 2007: Ending Impunity for Violence against Women and Girls
- 2006: Women in decision-making
- 2005: Gender Equality Beyond 2005: Building a More Secure Future
- 2004: Women and HIV/AIDS
- 2003: Gender Equality and the Millennium Development Goals
- 2002: Afghan Women Today: Realities and Opportunities
- 2001: Women and Peace: Women Managing Conflicts
- 2000: Women Uniting for Peace
- 1999: World Free of Violence against Women
- 1998: Women and Human Rights
- 1997: Women at the Peace Table
- 1996: Celebrating the Past, Planning for the Future

I am sure in India as well; we will get to see many functions, rallies and other awareness drives. We Indians treat our country as a woman and call her Bharat Maata. Over the past few years, women in our country are really bringing great laurels in all fields.

While I was going though the website: http://www.internationalwomensday.com/
I happened to note the following Gender Facts:

Global Issues
• Females in developing countries on average carry 20 litres of water per day over 6 km
• Globally women account for the majority of people aged over 60 and over 80
• Pregnant women in Africa are 180 times more likely to die than in Western Europe
• 530,000 women die in pregnancy or childbirth each year
• Of 1.2 billion people living in poverty worldwide, 70% are women
• 80% of the world's 27 million refugees are women
• Women own around only 1% of the world's land
• AIDS sees women's life expectancy of 43 in Uganda and Zambia
• 5 people are added to the world's population every 2 seconds
• Women are 2/3 of the 1 billion+ illiterate adults who have no access to basic education
• Suicide is a leading cause of death for Chinese women, and China is the only country in which the suicide rate for females is higher than for males.


Innovation
• Globally women comprise 42% internet users (Italy 37% ... US & Canada 51%)
• In OECD countries women comrpise only 30 per cent of degrees in science and technology
• Women's representation in computer and information sciences workforce is around 30% globally
• Female inventors still only account for around 10% of the US inventor population

Business / Finance
• Women control $14 trillion in assets and this should grow to $22 trillion over next 10 years
• Women comprise 21 of the 37 million people living below the poverty line in the US
• Only in Japan and Peru are women more active in starting a business than men
• Women spend more time researching before they invest than men do

Media / Arts
• Only 21% of all news subjects (people interviewed or whom the news is about) are female
• Women less than 1% department heads, editors, media owners but third of working journalists
• 80% of UK purchasing decisions are made by women but 83% of 'creatives' are men

Work
• Women do two-thirds of the world's work but receive only 10% of the world's income
• Women's education is the most powerful predictor of lower fertility rates
• One year out of college women earn 20% less than men and 10 years later 31% less
• Women on average are away from workforce for 14.7 years compared to 1.6 years for men
• The biggest EU gender pay gap is in Cyprus and Estonia at 25% then Slovakia at 24%

Government
• 56% of women who voted supported Obama compared to only 49% of men voted for Obama
• Until 20 years ago there had never been more than 5% women MPs globally
• Benazir Bhutto was the first woman prime minister of a muslim country (assassinated 27/12/07)
• From the 27 EU member states, UK ranks 15 for women's representation in national Parliaments
• From 1945 to 1995 the percentage of women MPs worldwide increased four-fold
• Although women make up 51 percent of the world’s population, they hold only 16 percent of parliamentary and congressional seats worldwide.

Before, I end, I would like to clarify that I am not trying to support or criticize the fact that we have “Women’s Day”. It’s not been a month that my post on Valentine’s Day brought questions like – “Do need to celebrate such days? Well I don’t know how far its right or wrong. It’s just another celebration. So as long as it’s not harming any one and bringing cheers to people, I don’t mind it.

Saturday, March 07, 2009

Goli soda is dying :(

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goli soda
Pepsi, Coke and others have intruded India to such an extent that they seem almost our own now! I'm not against any MNC, in fact I get my salary from one such MNC in India, but I do tend to get a little nostalgic at times when I find all the smart marketing wiping away our 'old' products. Today was one such moment when I saw 'goli soda' in front of my company's futuristic campus.
goli soda
For those of you who are unaware of what 'goli soda' is, it is carbonated water sold in glass bottles. The USP of 'goli soda' is its unique way of packaging, with a marble acting as a 'cap' to keep all the fizz inside. To 'open' the bottle one has to push the marble aside in a special way to free the water inside. The bottle has a unique design and it is an art to open the bottle without breaking your finger. For Rs. 5 it is one of the best refreshing drink you can have on a sunny day.
The sad thing is that these goli soda vendors and producers are fast disappearing. In urban India it is almost an impossibility to find one. The coming generation may alienate itself from the special flavour of goli soda and lime with masala, unlocked by the famished fingers of the lungi clad vendor if we continue to dance only on 'phoren' songs until another Slumdog Millionaire is made by some 'firangi'!

Thursday, March 05, 2009

Political parties trying to ride the youth wave

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obama whitehouse
Within hours of taking the oath, the President of United States of America, Barack Obama, launched a new version of www.whitehouse.gov . The message was clear, the new president is tech-savvy and knows that so is the electoral college which voted for him. The new website has features like announcement about his government's policies, his government's opinion on important issues, the agenda, a peek into the administration side of things, etc. Besides these there is the presidential blog. One of the most amazing features of the site is that the users are allowed to vote and comment on important issues and their votes and opinions are taken into consideration while formulating any law for the land. The people of US also get to subscribe to their President's youtube channel, RSS feeds from his blog, streaming video of his speeches and a lot more.
This is an expected move from a young President from a country where the depth of Internet connectivity is such that almost all its citizens are touched by the Web 2.0 phenomenon and are using Internet not just for sending emails but in all areas of their lives.
electronic voting machine india elections
Things are quite similar in India even when Internet penetration is nothing compared to the First world countries (we are the first democracy to have electronic voting machines remember?). The 'great India election' dates were announced just a couple of days back but the ads campaigns have started long back for most political parties. BJP has again emerged as one of the pioneers when it comes to leveraging the power of Internet to stir up the tech-savvy voters of India. Almost everywhere you point your mouse these days, Mr. Advani's face is just a click away! (He's been able to make a lot of visits to CnC as well). With Arun Jaitely again in command for the election campaign (or at least the tech side of things for now) we can only see more and more of 'Vote for Advani' ads floating in the cyberspace. With most political parties realizing that election this year would be won based on which way the youth on India swings, everyone is trying to give a 'fresh appeal' to his/her party. Congress has been projecting Rahul Gandhi (the cute dimpled, stylish and supposedly dynamic 'Rajkumar' of the congress) as the hope for the youth of India, though staying clear of any internal complexities and commotion of showing any inclination to project him as a Prime Ministerial candidate for the future. BJP, on the other hand, void of any major 'young' names as of now, is making the old (and may I add, just about one more general election left types) Advani run up to gyms and spas all over the country to pick up dumbbells. He has also been visiting colleges in BJP-friendly states like Karnataka to 'advice' them on how they can play a role in bringing about a change (by making sure that India does not 'change' its old customs, traditions and pre-conceived notions about women-in-the-pubs). In one such address here in Bangalore last week the college students were made to sit for the function who later decided to boo the 'national leaders' when they started giving out 'gyan' to the young minds; most of them opted out of the meeting to catch up with some shopping in the commercial street or a sip at the nearest CCDs.
The message is clear, all political parties are trying their level best to capture the attention of the youth of India. Many young leaders are being considered for tickets, entertainment taxes are being cut in Karnataka, in states like Uttar Pradesh and Delhi congress is conducting special recruitment drives to catch young talented political minds, BJP is flooding the cyberspace with flash ad blocks.
With campaigns like Lead India and JagoRe.com things do look better this time. If the elected Indian political scene again shows the weakness that it has long been associated with, it would be for lack of options and not a dearth of young voters. With 'Jai ho' fast replacing 'Jai Hind' in the young circles of the country, it may perhaps be time for a government that promises to do something at the grass-root level to improve the situation of the nation that is going to be and not just speak about the legacy of Indian culture and the power it used to be in the times when the world was not connected enough to know about it!

Wednesday, March 04, 2009

Let's make this vote count

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The Times of India is set to launch Lead India ’09, a country-wide campaign across all our newspapers, with the aim of ensuring that better candidates are put up and elected in the coming elections. The campaign will first try to put pressure on political parties to feature better candidates, by mobilizing the opinions of lakhs of thinking individuals around the country; and then act as a Voters’ Guide to help voters make a more informed choice, through detailed investigation of all key candidates in 40 urban constituencies.

Join me in this campaign and take an oath -

I swear that this time I will stand up.
Not for what I believe in, but for what I don't.
This time I will vote. Not for, but against.
Against my own Helplessness.
Against my own lazinessness.
Against two words called "Chalta Hain".
Against short cuts in queues.
Against cheating in exams.
Against Kharcha Paani in offices.
Against powerless inquiry commissions.
And powerful vote banks.
Against religion in politics.
Against illegal constructions
and legal loopholes.
Against every cynic. Every non-believer.
Against the belief that nothing will change.
Against the feeling that my vote cannot make a difference.
Against every excuse for not voting.
I will do this without fear or shame.
Because only by voting against all that is destroying our todays, will give my children something to vote for tomorrow.


For further details click here

Let's become the change agents in this historic election.
Let's think loud for the next two months !!

Tuesday, March 03, 2009

Intel: Recession may hit technological advancements!

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It may seem ridiculous to think that the economic slowdown may be powerful enough to hold back technological evolution and advancements but, sadly, the current recession has done exactly that.
Intel which sells its products through vendors of various electronic products may not be under a direct influence of recession but the piling inventory at its clients factories may soon start showing up as delay in the coming hardware releases by Intel. It is believed that the popular vendors of computer goods have been pressing Intel to delay the release of its newer technologies as they have not been able to clear the huge inventory which has the older Intel chips inside them. With the new technology entering the market the vendors would be forced to compete with the standards of the changing market and this may put a greater pressure on the already crumbling electronics goods industry.
For Intel to survive the economic crunch, it may be necessary that they don't delay the next release too much as competitors may snatch the near-monopoly that Intel enjoys right now. On the other hand rolling out a new product would create a further slowdown for the electronic goods majors and smaller players (with reasonably smaller inventory issues) would be the biggest gainers.
Thanks to the model on which Michel Dell built his company, Dell should survive without much problems with its unique inventory control mechanism and a customer demand centric approach for placing orders with its vendors. Smaller players in the electronic chip making industry may be seeing this as a chance to challenge the Intel authority.
The biggest gainers would be the customers with bigger discounts and 'nicer' offers expected in the consumer electronic market.