Thursday, September 29, 2005

Give Ganguly a break?

Maybe, in the recent Ganguly-Chappell imbroglio Chappell was not less at fault. He is not known for his team management skills. Just as a great scientist may not be a good teacher, a great player may not be a good coach for Team India. Whether Ganguly should stay or not deserves debate and maybe he doesn't deserve to stay as the captain of the team or even in the team given his poor form. But that doesn't mean we don't give him the benefit of doubt and just because we think he should be out of the team take Chappell's word for granted.

As an aside, I just hope these kind of shameful events demote our cricket players from their current status of being only next to God. They are after all error bound humans!

Tuesday, September 27, 2005

Safe and Sound?

We are no safer today than we were four years ago [link needs QuickTime].

Natural Selection vs Intelligent Design

A nice post [link]. The link gives a nice introduction to what natural selection means and how today scientists can visualize, using DNA, what the theory of Darwin suggested to be a cause of all the diversity we witness in nature. It is amazing to know that random mutations occur and some of the mutations survive longer than others due to the circumstances that exist. It also seems that mutations occur anyways and are not encouraged or caused by changing environment. It is like you happen to pick a lottery ticket that wins. Most others pick the wrong tickets and loose. You keep investing in the game of lottery anyways. If you keep winning u keep getting stronger and survive longer than others who don't win as much. Just that the fittest of all the mutations (the winning lottery ticket, a selection amongst many possible mutations or lottery tickets) survives!

Yes, the process is a random process that is still being understood. I guess the cause behind the randomness is still a mystery. Once the cause is known the process will become deterministic?

Sunday, September 25, 2005

Groom Bazaar

IAS - 25 lakh, IPS - 25 lakhs, poor engineer - a few lakhs lesser. Engineering is costlier to pursue. Seems to be a loss making venture as there are IAS/IPS who are not engineers. The good old story.

Up north, grooms are categorised according to their stature. A Lucknow-based matrimonial agency, the professor elaborates, would typically place an IAS-IPS groom under the 'Lotus Category'.

Lotus carries more weight than the 'Marigold Category' of doctors, engineers, lawyers and lecturers. 'Rose' stands for grooms who have passed out from the IIMs and IITs. "These are the undisputed sultans of the wedding mart," the professor maintains.

Shameless bastards!


I would rather prepare my mind for the marathon of life than prepare my legs for the one on road. Should I run a marathon? Well, an on road marathon preparation requires a lot of mental preparation too. The legs have to be there. Not necessarily long, but strong. You run on your legs! You could start crawling once your legs consider the Marathon a lost cause. What if your mind says enough is enough? Forget the marathon, it happens when you try to jog just that extra round. You know you have the physical strength but the mind has its own plans. Twenty eight miles of running without the destination in sight should be difficult. The destination in view could propel the mind, I guess. But here there is nothing in site, for miles and miles all you see is road (discount the spectators, I guess after some running your mind blocks them all). You may even loose sight of your competitors after some time. Some have told me that all they want is to reach the finish line. Doesn't matter even if they make it after all the rest. Reaching the finish line is the goal. You are set against your own self. It is a fight against one's own limitations both physical and mental. A fight that everyone wants to win.

Wonder what gives up first. The mind or the body. I guess it should be possible to resuscitate the willing and trained mind but the body if tired beyond repair may be difficult to drag along. A marathon race I watched was the Olympics 2004 Women's Marathon which was won by Japan. Believe me the race was more exciting than one may expect a marathon to be. The short Japanese seemed to pack in a lot more than one would expect. The untimely exit of Paula Radcliffe when many expected her to win a medal in the race. All the action was tangible. One could empathise with the exhaustion that the athletes showed on their face. Sudden increase in the strides of a competitor would send your heart racing as if you were the one trying to run faster. Will she be able to keep running this fast, you would ask yourself. Reduced strides would confuse you. Is it the end of the road or is it just a part of a larger stratagem. The Japanese Noguchi had increased her strides quite a bit towards the end of the marathon as if she was trying to finish it before it gets too late. She was maintaining a fair distance from her opponents. Not sure whether she was being doubly cautious. What if someone showed a sudden burst of acceleration? Maybe it was her race against time. Probably, nobody will know. All I know is that she won and deserved the victory, not that the others didn't. I guess most of them there were victorious. Just that one of them topped them all.

Saturday, September 17, 2005

The "Sab Chalta Hai" Manoeuvre

I received an invite from the US consulate in Chennai. The letter said that my appointment had been scheduled for 9:45AM and that I should reach the consulate at 9:30AM. The letter made me feel at ease because the last time I had a visa interview was at the German Consulate at Chennai and the idea was to reach the gates earlier than the earliest. I reached Chennai from Bangalore early in the morning, booked a decent room in a motel at a walkable distance from the Chennai Railway Station, changed, had breakfast and left the motel at around 9AM to reach the consulate before 9:30AM.

What I saw at the Chennai consulate made me feel sad. I saw a long line of people standing at the consulate being controlled by all powerful herdsmen (I had earlier met a person in one of the narrow lanes of Carol Bagh, Delhi, who referred to them as Khaki Kutte. I was quite amused then but he was probably right with due apologies to the dog-kind). Most people in the line were of my age group, most of them applying for a student's visa to gain entry into the USA many of them accompanied by their friends and family.

My initial take on the long line was very naive. I thought that the long line was due to some delays at the consulate. Assuming that the appointments may have been delayed by an hour or two I stepped forward and asked one of the herdsmen as to when my turn would arrive. The man asked me to get back into the line saying that it would take a long time. Long time! How long? Asking was pointless. Well, I joined the line and after a bit of asking around realised that many people ahead of me were people who had appointments later than me, later not by 15 mins but by an hour or a couple of hours.

People with appointments at 11:45AM were standing at the very front (at 9:30AM) while I like a fool was stuck behind. I guess my chagrin and restlessness was quite visible that one of the herdsmen approached me with an offer. For a price of Rs 100 I could get to the front of the line, a position I should have held given my appointment time and the fact that the consulate inside the tall walls was not delaying processing. All negotiation was happening in the open view of people with above average education and wealth. Some of them proud of their exploits during the day and others wondering why they didn't reach earlier. Most of them should have been at home given that their appointments were at least a couple of hours away. Most of them looked God fearing, seemed to have begged for blessings all night long. The innocent looks on their faces masquerading the deep rooted moral malaise each one of them suffered from. None of them had the slightest shame that they were standing like cows being treated at will by the herdsmen. All they had to do was to stick by the appointment time printed on the letter from the consulate and they would have salvaged a lot of pride and would have been saved from the obvious humiliation. I guess they were too stubborn to feel the humiliation, people in their early twenties stubborn and desensitized given company in many cases by their more experienced and beyond repair parents.

In the name of getting street smart people end up being corrupt very young. I remember having boarded a bus with a few friends of mine (around 10yrs of age) when one of them suggested that some of us who looked less than 10 years old should ask for a half-ticket as the conductor will not be able to tell. The savings were to be minimal but why not make the smart move when one can. Give it a try at least!

There were parents who collaborated to divert the school bus route for their convenience, against the wishes of the school. It was not very difficult. All they had to do was pay a nominal amount to the driver for the detour. When I out of indignation asked them as to why they were doing something the school had strictly refused they were hurt and complained to my family of their son's rude behaviour! How kind of them that they were concerned about a stranger's child's behaviour! They were balming their conscience I guess.

Going back to the consulate, the consulate does not allow any stuff other than the required documents inside. There was this couple who was carrying a bag and some other stuff that they had to leave outside the consulate wall. So far so good. What I witnessed was evidence of the fact how wasted the herdsman and all others standing there were. The herdsman didn't like the fact that his pavement had been encroached by lesser mortals. The price the couple paid was that their stuff was kicked around at will, like a football. And again all this happened in the presence of hundred or more applicants. Well it was not happening to their luggage. So why bother. The kicking around of the stuff was probably kind of amusing. Good that no one stopped the rogue. The line had north, south, east and west Indians (many were there from Bangalore and Hyderabad, cities that are cosmopolitan). They were all united in their turning away. They included me too and I regret that in retrospect. I wanted to ask the moron to stop kicking around but resorted to the great Indian "sab chalta hai" manoeuvre.

A manoeuvre that we are so good at justifying and that is plain and simple selfish. One justification for any corrupt act being that since the government is corrupt what is the big deal anyway? Everyone is corrupt, that is the way the world is. We should keep up with the world etc. The problem with the manoeuvre is that we Indians can never claim individual freedom as claim to individual freedom and justice can't be an individual's effort. It has to be a concerted effort from the society (the educated middle class, the lesser mortals who are taken for a ride), the society needs to shout out loud in no unclear terms its right to individual freedom and justice for every single individual whose individual freedom and justice is at stake. People in the Bronx or Brooklyn, NY, (I am not sure) had decided to get together to patrol against hate crimes. The people included Blacks, Jews, Latin Americans. The Asians were conspicuous by their absence probably cocooned in a false sense of security turning a blind eye to anything that doesn't affect their individual selves!

All we can do is keep counting the many years of injustice meted out to us. Recently, I read about the Independence Rock fiasco where some thousands were taken for a ride by a whimsical officer. The organiser mentions that the entire rock loving crowd turned away from the venue disappointed but peacefully very different from what the scene that would emerge in case the occasion was Ganesh Chaturthi or Durga Pooja. I wonder why the crowd left peacefully and I don't intend to say that they should have gone around creating havoc venting their frustration in vain. Maybe they should have stayed there as a mark of protest, after all they were a few thousand. Was leaving a show of decency or just another easy manoeuvre? Would staying put have made any difference at all? Would the whimsical officer have thought twice before passing a similar order the next time? Would staying back have been more effective than just leaving and saying that this always happens to us? But then given our day to day conduct do we retain the right to protest or any justice at all?

Tuesday, September 13, 2005

The onus is on You!

“You must be the change you wish to see in the world.” - Mahatma Gandhi

Wednesday, September 07, 2005

Americans want answers!

Answers please! No more escaping responsibility and fooling around with the people.

Cooper to Landrieu: Americans Want Answers

Linked from

When The Saints Don't Go Marching In, a post that explains what the moral responsibilities of a government are and why the Bush govt lacks moral values.

Probably, the common people from the third world also need to ask such questions rather than get accustomed to lack of morals and accountability on part of their government as if it were just a part of their daily life! The third world much of which fought against foreign rule for centuries now needs to fight to remove the malaise within. Fight!

Tuesday, September 06, 2005

The crutch called faith!

In response to Atanu's opinion [link]. At a point in the post Atanu says

"I said that only feeble-minded people need the crutch that faith provides against the terrors of non-existence that follows death."

My opinion on the crutch called faith.

U say this without any scientific evidence at all or at least I don't see any or maybe it is just your point of view, which is fair enough.

"the crutch that faith provides against the terrors of non-existence that follows death"

Faith may provide a crutch for people to go about their day to day hassles, in this unforgiving and fiercely competitive world, with hope that there is some power that will take care, not sure how many of them keep the faith thinking of the day they will die. A proof of it is that the greatest and die-hard followers of any faith are found in the less prosperous sections of society. Many of them may not be living lives worth all the suffering. Maybe I should not be judgemental about their lives.

Anyway, having faith does not guarantee immortality, it may be better to stay on earth rather than end up in the fires of hell? Faith doesn't guarantee heaven, no faith does! Faiths that talk of reincarnation, at least some of them talk of Karma. In very naive terms and I am no great exponent of philosophy, all they say is that you will pay for your own deeds (good or bad, what is good and what is bad may be matter of trial). Shouldn't sound very good to most of these handicapped billions. Only ignorance of their faith can act as a crutch.

Vivekananda in fact said that man should contemplate death and not shy away from it. He was a man of faith no man in need of crutches. So was Mahatma Gandhi (where I am not using Mahatma to imply that he was godly) who may have acted as a crutch for many but was very confident about the faith he followed. Man does go through various phases in a life time that is comprehendible to this world. There may also be a phase beyond what we humans can comprehend, the existence of which has not been disproved yet. It is OK not to accept something that has been disproved by science but scientists cannot ask people or ridicule people who believe in stuff that science has not been able to disprove, in fact have no proof against.

Even Einstein, from what u have quoted (as said by Carl Sagan), despises people who think of immortality of their physical body or self not of reincarnation or after-life. Reincarnation doesn't essentially mean that Einstein should be born as a great scientist in his next life. All it says is that one is caught in the infinite cycles of life and death till one rises above his own ego only to realise the oneness of this creation. In fact it talks of loosing one's self (the soul included) to recognise the oneness (Well this is my understanding and may not be the absolute truth, if there is any).

As an aside, I have recently read some beautifully written articles on the blogosphere that give reasons on why creationism is unscientific and why there is no great intelligent blueprint behind all what is evolving [link - got it via India Uncut's link ]. But none of the people who supported the darwin theory of evolution just presented the ridicule of creationism. They had scientific discoveries made after extensive studies to prove their theory and disprove the theory of creationists who were without a proof.

Acceptable that we are not clear about what the truth is but then that is a handicap that science will overcome with time. Till then it is not fair to call people who believe in faith as ones who require crutches.

Sunday, September 04, 2005

The moral police is back

Well, not that I had not feared this [link]. Thou (the moral police) cannot understand why Sania Mirza wears the clothes she does on a tennis court but (and I am greatly obliged!) thou are proud of her achievements. A veil with just eyes popping out should be good for the game of tennis. Add ray-bans too. Maybe, Sania should order for such a veil and then thou shall be happy. I am sure the same moral police wouldn't have allowed women play part in any affairs of the society a few decades ago. Not sure how better the situation is today. Given Sania's rise and today's working class it will sound preposterous if they said that girls should not play in public, so they now want to have a say in the dress she wears.
One argument they give is that

"It is a sport, not a fashion parade. If people are troubled by her dress she ought to cover herself and play."

Eye opener indeed! Would it be OK if she were participating in a fashion parade or is there a suitable dress code for a fashion parade too! People are troubled! Which people, the God fearing ones? All they can see are the 18 year old girl's legs?

"because it will offend sensibilities"

Whose sensibilities? The sensibilities of perverts who want the world to change but will not amend their habits.

"Actually the conservatives are confused. They're not sure how to react to a phenomenon like her who also has a strong religious background. Mercifully, the Islamic seminary Darul Uloom's rule on the mandatory veil concentrates only on Muslim women contesting elections and not on sports,"

Excellent! After all since when have women been participating in sports. Surely not before the above rule was created else they wouldn't have missed on the sports clause. Will the moral police realize that the times have changed and for the better? Isn't it time for them to move along too? A cliched question, I guess! And why should that rule matter to Sania Mirza even if it were to include sport's women? Shouldn't the law of the secular land take care?
A zillion times it has been mentioned that the dress women wear has nothing to do with any atrocities committed on them. Not that there is anything wrong with what she wears. The moral police needs to find better jobs for themselves. A "better employment opportunity scheme" should be created for them, on these lines maybe [ link], hopefully then they will happily feed on the economic fabric of India rather than the social one! Closing of dance bars in Mumbai [ link], restrictions on live-band joints in Bangalore [ link], show of "strength" on Valentine's Day [ link]. Independent India?? Hmm...

Sania, just hope you are not another casualty of the moral police! Way to go. Glory beckons you at the US Open!

Can we the people do it?

21 years have indeed passed[link]. It has been 21 years of (c)ommissions, false reports, media rhetoric and I guess some true reporting too. I was wondering if the Sikhs in Delhi and Punjab can today come out in large numbers and protest against the government, a protest of the kind Cindy Sheehan [ link ] is leading against the war in Iraq. Further, if the sikhs come out and start protesting will people from other not affected communities join the protest. If there is one thing we as Indians can use against any government, it is our sheer numbers. Why don't I see any public protests? Not protests by organizations who supposedly represent the community but the common people of the community. Why? Even elections are rigged. Polls after an incident may not be any indicator of whether a govt should come back in power or not. The only tool we are left with is large scale protest.

If people can be gathered and instructed in no time to carry out pogroms why cannot normal people plan out protests? Where is the point in all the media coverage, blogger coverage that the riots have got if they do not lead to any action from the common man's side, ruling out that the govt will do anything at all.

Will it ever be See you at say the PM's office to launch protests! or will we keep counting year after another, crime after another?


Outsourcing of brides and bridegrooms from India[Link]. The world is flat [ Link] indeed! Well, it is getting flatter at least ;-)

Friday, September 02, 2005


It makes no difference where you live if you are poor. I especially sympathize with people or communities who have been lead to poverty via centuries of exploitation. Hats off to sections of media that have the courage to speak out for them. Is anybody listening? A few excerpts from the article Lost in the Flood as posted on [Got the link here].

Nearly every rescued person, temporary resident of the Superdome, looter, or loiterer on the high ground of the freeway I saw on TV was African-American. And from the look of it, they weren't wealthy residents of the Garden District. This storm appears to have hurt blacks more directly than whites, but the broadcasters scarcely mentioned that fact.

Race remains largely untouchable for TV because broadcasters sense that they can't make an error without destroying careers. That's a true pity. If the subject were a little less taboo, one of last night's anchors could have asked a reporter, "Can you explain to our viewers, who by now have surely noticed, why 99 percent of the New Orleans evacuees we're seeing are African-American? I suppose our viewers have noticed, too, that the provocative looting footage we're airing and re-airing seems to depict mostly African-Americans."


If the reporter on the ground couldn't answer the questions, a researcher could have Nexised the New Orleans Times-Picayune five-parter from 2002, " Washing Away," which reported that the city's 100,000 residents without private transportation were likely to be stranded by a big storm. In other words, what's happening is what was expected to happen [my emphasis]: The poor didn't get out in time...

To the question of looting, an informed reporter or anchor might have pointed out that anybody—even one of the 500 Nordic blondes working in broadcast news—would loot food from a shuttered shop if they found themselves trapped by a flood and had no idea when help would come.

I wonder if people in government could have provided buses for evacuation before the storm struck. They did after conditions in the superdome deteriorated. Didn't the government know the plight of the people who elected it?