Wednesday, February 28, 2007

Why can’t we Indians follow rules while driving?

There are 5 main reasons for this, as I see it:

  • Sheer size of our population
  • Size of our country
  • Cultural and language differences
  • Education
  • Impatience

How do the above influence our driving skills (or the lack of it)?

Size of our population

We are around a billion people and counting. Although 80% of our population
lives in the rural areas, economic factors are beginning to drive more and more people to the cities in search of a better life. This is increasing the population in cities where existing infrastructure, more often than not, is creaking under the burden of additional population. To put this in perspective, apparently Bangalore attracts around 3000 migrants everyday and adds 5000 vehicles everyday! The more the population, the more vehicles on small roads and therefore more chaos!

Size of our country

India has an area of 3,287,590 square KM or 1,229,737 square Miles, with a billion people. To get some perspective around this number, the US has an area of 9,631,420 square KM or 5,984,685 square miles with 300 million people, which is around 3 times the area of India with a third of our population! So obviously the density of people per square mile or KM is very high in India.

Pause, to think of the consequences!

Cultural and Language Differences

India has 23 scheduled languages and various dialects as recognized by our constitution! So assuming that a truck driver from North India has to drive to the South or vice versa, the chances of the driver speaking in any language apart from the native language he speaks is infinitesimally small! Most of the signage in India is in the local language of the state the driver is in or in English! Chances that a driver would have got a license by paying out bribes are pretty high! Pray, tell me how will anyone understand the signage?


India has a literacy rate of 65.38%, so again think of the truck driver – chances that he being educated is small, chances that he knows a language different from his native tongue, tends towards zero.


Anyone who has lived in this great country of ours or anyone who has visited here will attest to the fact that everyone is always in a hurry! In the morning, yes there could be an office emergency, call or a meeting – in fact I was talking to a friend of mine and he has a very interesting theory around this – He opines that the urge to “get there” (read as being successful) and “get there” first is so overwhelming, simply because there at least a million other people who also want to “get there”. This I can accept and live with!

How in the world can you explain the peak hour chaos in the evening? More often than not, most people are getting home after a hard days work – why can't people chill out, listen to music or do anything to relax – Nope, everyone is yet a hurry!

So it is going to be implausible that the population of the country suddenly tapers off, the size of the country suddenly expanding, the cultural and language differences disappearing, the education levels suddenly skyrocketing and certainly impossible for the impatience to dissipate and replaced by patience. Ergo, we as country will continue to remain as we are!

Monday, February 26, 2007

Digg, Technorati

Why do so many people want to be Dugg or Technoratted?

More often than not, if
Digg figures out that you have written about them, the blog somehow makes it to the most read! The case seems to be the same with Technorati! This is something, that I did not come up with, but is actually an article – My apologies, but am unable to find the article again, otherwise would have certainly linked to it!

I have gone through a lot of articles on “How do I popularize my Blog?” or a variation of the same title and I have not got anything which is remotely useful.

Agree, content is king – but I have realized that blogging is now done based on the current hot topic is! What if, I do not want to write about a current hot topic because there are 10000 other sites which have already written about it, some 20000 news channels which have already talked about it – I would be just another! I thought that was pretty counter intuitive (Just because you have written what is being talked about by everyone else and therefore no one visits your site!)– Apparently not – If you want to be read, write about the same hot button issue!

Secondly, add comments on other sites – Hell I have, but don’t see any results!

Submit to
Google and Yahoo – Did this at least my page now comes up!

So the choice is yours – Do you want to whore your blog? Or are you writing for the sake of the pleasure writing gives you?

Based on the answer (You need to be honest!) decide what you want to do!

I have done this so that, hopefully, writing this will get some traffic to my site!

American Foreign Policy: A Deadly sin?

Greed based foreign policy

The American foreign policy has been mainly greed based. How different is from any invading country in the centuries gone by is anybody’s guess!

US has so many interests in the Middle East is because of the oil that they have – had they not got any oil, would they have been so interfering? We all already know that the Al Qaeda has its roots from American funding! Today, it has come back to haunt them!

North Korea – they are interested again, because of its proximity to China. China increasingly is becoming powerful and with so many American businesses entrenched in the Chinese landscape; they do not have enough bases close enough to China. The closest bases that they have are in Japan, the Philippines, to an extent in Afghanistan which, however, is distracted by the Al Qaeda chase! They do have bases in Pakistan but that again is busy with Bin Laden! Therefore bases in North Korea and Taiwan will be strategically important options, which explain their enduring interest!

With regards to Iran, it boils down to oil as usual. The Americans are by far the largest consumers of oil and they will need options. Whether they will attack Iran or not, is yet to be seen especially with the tough stance that Iran is taking with respect to its nuclear enrichment program!

The Civil war in Iraq

The senate, which in 2003, gave their blessing to Bush on the War on Iraq, is now talking about withdrawing the same support – yes, the setup of the senate has considerable changed since then, but do they have an option of getting out of Iraq anytime soon? Personally, I don’t think it is possible, considering the fact that Iraq is now embroiled in one of its worst civil wars in a long time, with the paranoia that the Americans have (could be well placed) about the Iranians and its designs in Iraq.

The Presidents swear that they will “Preserve, protect and defend the constitution of the United States”! How they are doing this by waging war in Iraq, well, your guess is as good as mine!

If the Americans do leave without stability in Iraq, history will not be kind to them!

Friday, February 23, 2007

Celebrity Big Brother: All about the money, honey!

So I am writing about the Celebrity Big Brother one month after the hoopla dies down because:

  • I did not have a blog back when it actually happened!
  • I wanted the hoopla to die down!

So was it racism or bullying?

Racism as defined in a dictionary is: a belief that race is the primary determinant of human traits and capacities and those racial differences produce an inherent superiority of a particular race.

Bullying is defined in a dictionary as: to affect by means of force or coercion.

So what was it?

My view on it was, at the point in time, that it was case of plain bullying. Anybody who has gone to school can vouch for this! How many times, when you were a child at school, did you get imitated about the way you walk or talk or anything that you do on a regular basis? How many times did you get verbally abused? I am sure it has happened and will happen in the future – Another form of this is ragging, which at least all students from India, who have had the opportunity to attend college, had to go through! So did Shilpa Shetty go through anything different from this? No!

So what really happened?

I was at the time, when Celebrity Big Brother was on TV, in the UK and I had no idea that Shilpa Shetty was a part of it and I am sure, millions in India also did not know! So when I saw Shilpa’s name all over BBC and other news media, I heard about it and got sucked into watching the show! At the point in time, apart from Shilpa and her travails, the only other news worthy item was about David Beckham’s move to the LA Galaxy from Real Madrid.

So the media really blew it up and why? Indians in the UK are a minority. That is when the media in India took it up and started a domino effect! One thing lead to another and at the point poor Gordon Brown was in India and all the poor man, slated to become the next PM, (if Tony Blair does decide to step down) was asked about were his views on the show! He is a politician and he will have to pander to the minority community in the UK and so he did! That led to the Indian Prime Minister making comments and then Tony Blair! When these kinds of people make comments on anything – it becomes news, whether we like it not (Come on, Britney Spears shaving her head became news!)

But what was the show about? It was about a group of people asked to live under the same roof for a period of time and their activities are shown live (Just like Jim Carey’s life in the movie “The Truman Show”) and the most un-popular person is voted out by the watching public! It was truly one of the most inane and boring show I had seen! So the ratings of the show went through the roof when the media started calling the show, the producers and Jade Goody and her friends racists. It did just what the producers wanted and did not get! Voila – Jade Goody and everyone else are out and Shipa Shetty wins a ton of money! For the same ton of money that everyone was competing for! How is it any different from most office promotions – most people would be back stabbing other folks covertly who are competing for the same one promotion! I would like to see the popularity of a show where people are closeted together where everyone has to be nice to each other! Who are you kidding?

Stirring up a hornet’s nest

We Indians are a bunch of hypocrites!
In my opinion we Indians are so racist, we even have a caste system like none other in the rest of the world! Brahmins are, even to this day, considered the purest of everyone, hell, my mom will not even let me cook eggs at home! She will not go to a restaurant which serves non-vegetarian food, at least while she is India! The country’s politicians will exploit the very caste system during elections! The same people who whipped up passions during the time Celebrity Big Brother was on air saying that Britain is racist.

So if Jade Goody wanted to win, and if she has to resort to bullying, who can fault her – there was a ton of money at stake!

Thursday, February 22, 2007

Wanderlust: Palolem, Benaulim - Goa!

Meera and me needed a break and our close friends Harish and Payal joined us to head to the sun soaked beaches of Goa in December 2006.

We drove from Bangalore to Goa, a good 12 hour drive.

We reached Palolem (South Goa) at 5PM in the evening and Palolem was simply breathtaking in the evening. It is an idyllic, crescent shaped beach of white sand (surprisingly!) where the waves are just as lazy as the people who were on the beach and you would inevitable become after just a night! The startling thing about the beach is that it has very few Indians staying at the beach (Goa has more popular beach for the masses – Baga, Calangut, Anjuna et al!). This beach is mostly frequented by Europeans, Americans and Israelis some staying over for as long as 3 months!

We did not have a place to shack up at and so the boys went to look for a joint where we could stay and the women decided to do – well what else – but window shop!

We finally found a place called Fernandes where we got beach shacks for Rs.1500 per night per couple after haggling (and you need to). The entrance to the shack was a restaurant, walk through the restaurant and there were 9 shacks all with attached bathrooms. Each shack had a bed with a mosquito net, a fan, a closet. Very basic but clean. The most amazing thing about the shacks and is the same for any one of them – is that the sea is actually not more than 20 steps away from the restaurant!

The place was run by Sanjay – who was so helpful with all of our needs and
we had a few! Sanjay was simply amazing – he would get up at 8 AM everyday, get himself his morning cuppa and begin to work on his Sudoku skills. He had a whole book of Sudoku puzzles!

So we would get up everyday at around 8AM, have a very leisurely breakfast and head straight to the sea! Came back for lunch and well, what can I say – a place like Palolem deserves a siesta! Wake up in the evening and get a beer/cuppa depending on whichever way our throats wandered!
We did this (which was NOTHING!) for 2 days and then decided to go to Butterfly beach, look for a few dolphins (is an amazing sight!) on day 3 and on day 4 did nothing again!

We then moved to the Royal Goan Beach Club at Benaulim, which is about 35 KM from Palolem. This was a typical 3 star resort with some fantastic facilities, but is mostly for folks who cannot rough it!

We then decided to see a few places around Benaulim so went to see an old heritage mansion, built in the nineteenth century. It is one of the magnificent legacies of Portugese architecture. It had Italian patterned tiles, china wares and vases, very intricately painted, stained glass windows made of mother of pearl shells! It still has some of the old furniture, prominent among these is a lovely Lovers seat, where the women could not resist but take a snap! It houses Goa’s first private library and the sheer number of books boggles the mind!

The next day we drove to the Basilica of Bom Jesus and what a cathedral it was! It holds the mortal remains of St. Francis Xavier. The casket housing the body of St. Francis is made of silver. It is considered as one of the finest examples of Baroque architecture in India. The Basilica was built in the 17th century.

The next day, we decided to indulge in some water sport and we headed to the beach. We were excited to do para sailing – unfortunately the wind was not blowing in the right direction, but we did jet ski and it was exhilarating!
The time came for us to say goodbye with heavy hearts and return to the usual grind! Needless to say, the trip was dedicated to Bacchus!

Wednesday, February 21, 2007

American Media: Trivializing News and too internally focussed?

Is the American media trivializing news and are they too internally focused?

ON late Sunday night, India time, there was a major terrorist attack on an Indian train (connecting India and Pakistan) killing 66 people and injuring many others. One of American biggest and highly popular news website carried the news item as a byline in its “Latest News” section while the main story was dealing with how 4 people and a pet were rescued after they got stuck in a snow storm!

If the same attack happened on American soil or was targeted at American interests anywhere in the world, God forbid – we have too much bloodshed already, even if the casualties were far smaller, it would have made headlines!

Most American news channels, newspapers and websites are so internally focused that it seems that the news is getting trivialized!

The biggest news, recently in American media – Britney Spears has shaved her head! Give it a break folks – Leave her alone – It might do her a world of good!
All news organizations seem to be focused on making profits and news such as this, while useless and not giving any useful information sells!

This also seems to be a malaise affecting the American education system! The system is also so internally focused that most students at school do not even study various about countries, their cultures. Most Indians study the gamut of world civilizations, Indus Valley, Egyptian, Chinese etc. to the American civil war, American and the French Revolutions, the rise and fall of communism, World Wars etc.

Shouldn’t the media have the responsibility to teach people about various countries and cultures? The media mainly focuses on the city where it is in, the state, the US and countries where US has huge interests (especially Middle East, Israel) or where the Americans have or had their hands in a conflict (Iran, Iraq, North Korea, Vietnam).

IN the era of the internet blurring the borders across each country to make the world a global village, ignorance is certainly not bliss!

Tuesday, February 20, 2007

Break from the "Old Boy" tradition?

So the world might finally see a woman (Hillary Clinton) (I believe it has happened before, but do not remember any hoopla around it!) and an African-American (Barack Obama) (This I do not remember ever happening though a lot of folks wanted Colin Powell to run, if my memory serves right, but never happened) running for Presidency of the Worlds most powerful nation!

So has the US decided to break away from the "Old Boy" network that most US presidents are from? I used "Old Boy" here, even after knowing that it is very British, but after all, it was the British that was once ruling America - where will the tradition go?

There are so many polls being conducted by various media whether the citizens of the country are ready for such a big change! It sounds ridiculous - I am sure the electorate of any country would not mind who si in charge if the nation is well led!

Well pardon me, but its not really as if the USA is the first country to have a minority as a head of state (and I use the word loosely - I am not sure if Women can be called a minority at all!).

Britian had a Margaret Thatcher, Germany now has Angela Merkel. Even third world developing countries had people like Eva Peron, Indira Gandhi, Golda Meir (though I am not sure if Israel qualified as a Third World country at the time), Chandrika Kumaratunga, Benazir Bhutto etc. It wasn't such a big deal for those countries - India, even today, has a Sikh (Dr. Manmohan Singh) as the Prime Minister and a Muslim (Dr. APJ Abdul Kalam) as the President! Even the current Pakistani President, Musharaff is a Mohajir (Indian Muslim moved to Pakistan during Partition)!

So why is this really such a big deal in the USA? This is really the first time that the so called "Old Boy network" is being broken to get some fresh perspective in American politics.

If Condoleeza Rice decides to run (is in fact being denied vehemently by her!), it could be a mouth watering prospect to watch 2 women fighting for the Presidency in 2008, though Hillary Clinton might fall back on the Bill Clinton Old-Boy network!

New Zealand Trashes Australia 3-0 in the Chappel-Hadlee Trophy

New Zealand has just walloped Australia 3-0, in the concluding game of the Chappel-Hadlee trophy today.

Needing to chase an unbelievable 347, contributed largely by a superb 181 by Mathew Hayden, they chased it down with 3 balls to spare with Nathan Bracken being the culprit - sending down two full toss balls to help the Black Caps finish the game and complete the white wash against the Aussies for the first time.

Australia have another injury worry - Mathew Hayden has a fracture in his big toe and will need to see doctors on when he can resume playing.

Well played New Zealand. You have now opened up the race to the World Cup.

Monday, February 19, 2007

India and Pakistan

Isn't it time for both India and Pakistan to bury the past and move on?

The world is moving on so why not us? Why is there a need for us to continue to fight?

A bomb blast today on the "Samjhauta Express" (which translates to "Understanding Express") killed 66 people, most of them Pakistanis! On an Indian news website, I saw that a lot of Indians have been raving and ranting about the fact that Pakistan is responsible, yada, yada, yada. The blast has killed Pakistanis and yet we (Yes, I am Indian) want to blow Pakistan off the map! What sense does it make?

Pakistan has been burdened with the sheer weight of history on their backs! Give them a break, while we need to also take a break from this overwhelming hatred! We all have better things to do - why not come together to make the two countries economically stronger to take on the world?

The world is getting poised for Asian nations to start dictating on a global scale GDP and here we are at each other's throats! The amount of money each country ends up spending on military budgets will instead help in alleviating some hunger, can go a very long way in educating young people - Why oh why are we so intent on killing each other?

Time is on our side - lets utilize it well!

A hopeful Indian!

Aussies in trouble?

Are the Aussies in trouble just before the World Cup?

Trouble could be too strong a word and its more like a spot of bother! Remember that Ricky Ponting and Adam Gilchrist will definitely be back, Andrew Symonds will be back, but might not return in his full capacity and with regards to Brett Lee - there are no answers as yet!

Having said that, they had every other bowler who will be playing the World Cup appearing in the Chappel-Hadlee series and they looked ordinary! So is this the end of the Aussies' era of dominance in World cricket?

It will be naive to even think the thought given the fact that the Aussies always hit back strongly after losses and their trip to the carribean will, I suspect, be no different.

What this has however shown is that the Aussies can be beaten, which means that the World Cup, will not, hopefully, be a one horse race.

It remains to be seen if the other teams, have the will to fight and get their name on the ultimate trophy in One-Day Cricket.

Friday, February 16, 2007

Open Letter to Stephen Fleming (New Zealand Cricket Captain)

Dear Stephen,

Thank you for giving Australia a hiding today! A win by 10 wickets!!! Whatever happens during the remainder of the Chappel-Hadlee Trophy, it does not matter, although you have my complete support for the rest of the tournament and suspect about 1.5 billion other cricket fans all over the world!

With the World Cup looming in 4 weeks time, having the Aussies on the backfoot, at least gives the rest of the teams (yours and mine included) a great chance! At least it is not going to be one horse race (yes, i still hope!!).

For once someone, South Africa right now, can topple the Aussies from the number 1 ranking in any form of the game, provided you win the next two matches!

May God be with you!

All the very best!

While I know it sounds very defeatist, the Aussie dominance shows how far behind the rest of the teams are! Frankly, at this point in time, I don't care!

An honest Indian fan!

New Climate Pact

So finally we have a new Climate pact that will save and preserve the planet for our future generations. We might actually, if this becomes a law, give a decent legacy to our children (never mind the other not so great ones!).

My bone of contention is that there apparently was a consensus on the fact that developing countries also will need to face targets for cutting greenhouse gas emissions as well as rich/developed countries.

My question is: How did the so called rich countries get rich in the first place?
Ans: Industrialization

What is the main driver for industrialization? Greenhouse fuels such as coal, petrol, diesel etc.

So since the World War II when the world began to industrialize, countries which had some amount of money during that period in time, started using up more of these fuels to, fuel their economies! Presto - they became rich! Nada a thought to what will happen to the atmosphere, global warming, yada, yada, yada!

Suddenly countries such as the US, which refused to sign the Kyoto protocol woke up to the actual reality of global warming and why? Most of the rich in that country did not have a ski resort to go to as there was no snow during their holiday season - Thanksgiving through to the New Years. When it did arrive, in late January 2007 and is still very much winter now (as on February 16th 2007), it brought some devastation with it!

So we suddenly have Mr. George Bush referring to the climate and its effects in his State of the Union address!

So what is the prospect facing developing countries because of this?

Developing countries do not have enough freedom to get rich because they have curbs but the developed countries had no such rein to hold them back!
My thought on this: While I completely agree with the fact that developing countries also should have targets to limit emissions, i firmly believe that the developing countries should have much more stiffer targets than developed countries do!

Secondly, when responsible developing countries (Key word: Responsible) decide to go the Nuclear way - Kindly do not put a spoke in their wheel - They need all the energy they can get!

Thirdly, because of the mess the rich countries have already contributed to, they should have a fund for developing cleaner fuels in the developing countries!

While, I might sound jingoistic, why should any citizen of this world be deprived of getting rich while the rich constantly get richer?