Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Year 2008, what a year it has been…

This is the last day of the year 2008. The year will be remembered for many events that have shaken the world (most likely the Economic shockwave). I would probably look into some of my personal favorite events that have impacted my very own country India, and as well my state Assam.

2008 has been a mixed bag for India. This year terrorist activities have peaked with multiple serial bomb blasts in different parts of the country and also the heinous attack on innocent civilians of Mumbai, the financial capital of India. It has been a tremendous year for Indian sports. For the first time in Olympics history India has bagged 3 medals, and the first-ever gold medal in individual category by India’s ace shooter Abhinav Bindra. Cricket which is a religion in India also got a big boost with the Indian cricket team’s stellar performance which has elevated it to the world top teams in all version of the game: shortest (T20), shorter (One-Day) and longer (Test). The successful completion of Indian Premier League (IPL) was also incredible. Vishwanathan Anand made us proud by retaining his World Chess title.

India also made significant stride in the technology space by setting a world record by sending 10 satellites into orbit in a single launch. India also joined the history book by launching Chandrayan-1, a spacecraft on a lunar exploration mission. A part of the mission also hoisted the Indian national flag at the surface of the moon.

In the diplomatic front India successfully signed the Civil Nuclear deal with the United States. This provides India the unique access to world’s nuclear fuel and technology. With India struggling to meet its power demand, this will be a big boost towards achieving power self-sufficiency.

Indian business had a tough year. Though the Tata’s were successful with the deal with Ford to acquire Jaguar and Land Rover, it has to unfortunately pull out of the (hugely anticipated car of the year) NANO project in West Bengal. That was a big setback for the sentiment of the Indian business community. This added to high inflation, peaking crude prices and global economic slowdown makes it a tough year for Indian business. The stock market responded by hitting rock bottom from its peak at the beginning of year loosing nearly 60% (most peoples including me lost money). The opening of the Jamnagar refinery by Reliance was a big boost to end the year. It is the world’s largest refinery.

In the cultural front Bollywood did pulled out some big hits (though I didn’t liked most of them). Parvathy Omanakuttan brought pride to India by being the first runners up in Miss World 2008. Aravind Adiga made us proud by winning the Man Booker Prize.

I am welcoming 2009 with my fingers crossed. Wish you a Happy & Prosperous New Year 2009.

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

Do politicians care for common people?

If you were in touch with the media and news channel in the last few days, you would have seen heavy bashing of politicians by both media and the common people. There is a heightened state of hatred for politicians after the Mumbai terrorist attacks.

Politicians are also partly to blame for it. One fool CM criticizing a martyr’s parent, one politician talking against protesting public; this all has fueled further public outrage.

I was watching the news channel today and saw angry public taking on the politicians. Then my roommate made a statement that struck my mind. He said: Historically terrorists were focusing on political assassinations to make their presence felt and also for maximum impact. Politicians then responded equally aggressively to the terrorists. Now terrorists have become smarter and they target politicians no more, instead, they target the common people and get away without being violently pursued. Nobody forgot the war like situation that was created after the parliament attack.

I do not completely disagree, that is a good observation. Attack on parliament was a big thing. But no politicians got killed; yet the politicians responded violently, almost waging a war (lots of Army man would have got killed). But I do believe what happened in Mumbai is much larger then the parliament attack, lots of innocent life lost (not a single politician), and the response now from politician is not as aggressive as post parliament attack. So do the politicians care for us, the common people, or they just care for themselves?

This year has been severely violent in terms of attack on common people. After May, there have been serial blasts (mind it not bomb blast, serial means multiple bombs, more deaths) at regular intervals (almost every month, latest being Mumbai). Government has said we will take stern action, but as a matter of fact, nothing has happened. Only thing that has happened is another attack on civilians. The terrorists must have been laughing from a distance (may be they are patting on their back for figuring out the trick to get away unharmed). So will the politicians get serious only when they directly face terror? Will they wait for another political assassination to happen before responding? Don’t they value innocent life of the public?

I don’t want to believe what my friend is telling, but right now I can help thinking that it is true.

Time has come for the politicians to prove me wrong (that will make me happy being wrong) and take some stern action. Time for them to prove the public wrong, time to prove the media wrong, and all the people wrong who have been talking foul against them all along.

Monday, December 1, 2008

Just blame game against Pakistan is not enough:

This is what keeps happening every time terror strikes India, the Indian government comfortably puts the blame on outside miscreants, and specifically to terrorists based in neighbouring Pakistan. I know for sure the government is not entirely untrue. It is a well known fact that terrorist organizations function from Pakistan territory. But just putting the blame on them, and doing nothing serves no good to the nation. It does not guarantee that terrorists will not strike the Indian heartland again. So what next? What are the other steps we need to take (visible and actionable steps), that will deter those militants to come back again.

So just blame gaming is not enough. In fact, its a cheap way to avert responsibility, put the blame on others. So though it is a diplomatic strategy to isolate Pakistan, its not enough.

What has come out of the Mumbai aftermaths are the weaknesses we have.
- Our intelligence sucks
- Our police force are ill prepared and ill equipped
- Our NSG takes close to 10 hours to reach the battle zone
- Out political system is not tough enough
- We do not have strict anti-terror laws
- There is no coordination among various forces (police, navy, army etc.)
- Insufficient manpower in policing system

So with so much to focus upon, lets handle them. We can make sure that we don't have to lose many more (any more) civilian lives.

Lastly on a stronger note: I would love to see India bombing the terrorist installations in any part of the world from where they are operating, may it in the heart of Pakistan. Just tell them its not just you who can strike us in my home, we can too. "Gharpe ghuske marenge"

After the strike on twin towers on 9/11 the world changed. Will India change after the Mumbai attacks? Time will say.....

Thursday, November 27, 2008

India Burning: Mumbai Blasts, what has India become

The blasts in Mumbai and the open firing of terrorists is a sign of change in terrorist activities this country has ever seen. Its not just the blasts now, they go out and shoot peoples at the street. They are hitting us from front.

Looking back, some statistics of this years terrorists attacks in India is astonishing. We had a serial blasts in most of the big cities almost every other month. Be it Hyderabad, Bangalore, Delhi, Ahmedabad, Jaipur and Guwahati. Another astonishing statistics is that we have not yet captured a single person responsible (I mean here the big guys. Some small guys caught has lead us nowhere) for those attacks on innocent civilians. That just makes me believe that the culprits are still moving around freely planning their next move, and "Worst is yet to come".

This as a common man does not make me feel good at all, not for me, not for my family and not at all for my fellow country men. Time has come that we start showing actions, visible actions, which will start discouraging those who are trying to destabilize us, terrorrise us. Lets go hard against them, whatever we might have to loose because of this stern steps. I feel we have already lost enough, and there is nothing more worse that can happen. Its the people, the police force the governmet, all working together to fight against them. India is not a country which can be defeated just like that.

I just pray that all those who are injured in Mumbai return safe back to their loved ones.

We have caught some of the terrorists. The police can use them to track down every guy until the top and bring them to justice. They have hit the heart of Mumbai, and we can't let them go. I believe the Mumbai police are not Eunuchs and they take it personally.. I take it personally..

Thursday, October 30, 2008

Why can't we protect our peoples?

The serial blast in Assam today is one the deadliest in this North-Eastern state of India. Assam has seen many violence in the past, but something like this is unprecedented.

When I heard about it first after news started to spill in the Internet, the first reaction was of shock. By the time I recovered, I started calling my sister who works in Guwahati. This must have been the state of mind for many of the family members. 

The point is, the government had enough indication that this was coming. Situation has been tensed for quite some time in Assam lately and the government had enough reasons to stay tight guarded. But looking at the scale at which these blasts have happened (last news says >60 dead and >300 injured), looks like the government has been caught napping. How can they allow such devastation to happen. This is a pure case of negligence leading to death.

All I can feel now is frustrated and unsafe. What has happened could have been avoided, and what the government can do now is get those culprits and bring them to justice.

We want peace, everyone wants peace. I beg the government to protect my people from all these dangers.

Thursday, October 16, 2008

Floods in Assam

Assam is blessed with the great river Brahmaputra which passes through its heart, essentially bisecting through it. Brahmaputra and its tributaries is the largest source of water for Assam. The magnitude of its size can be judged from the fact that in some places the river is as wide as 10 kms. Though it is the lifeline for Assamese people, it is also known for the destruction it causes every year by floods.

Flood and Assam has always been in sync with each other. Come monsoon season and flood reaches its dangerous levels with widespread destruction. Every year huge destruction in agriculture, livestock and property happens.

The destruction caused by flood is not only limited to humans alone. Kaziranga, the natinal wildlife sanctuary in Assam which is famous for it's one horned rhino, gets almost completely submerged during floods. The animals are bound to move to higher grounds for safe heavens, making them vulnerable to poarchers. Local population around Kaziranga provides helping hands during these tough times. Every year many animals are drowned, some of which are part of the endangered species (like the rhino). The image shows an rhino carcass. Here is a news article on recent flood havoc in Kaziranga.

Unfortunately there has been very minimal effort by the state as well as the Indian government to properly tackle this disaster. Flood has been part of Assam's calender for centuries, but the kind of protection and preventive measures as well as preparedness that was expected out of the government is dissapointing. Every year lakhs of peoples goes homeless and crops destroyed, but the embankments built in has to be rebuild. The following link discusses it in greater detail:

There has been constant criticism of the central government for its step-motherly treatment of Asaam. Flood relief efforts being one of them. 

There has been a regular effort by various organizations to influence central government to declare the floods of Assam as a "National Disaster". All said and done, there has to be an serious effort from everyone in the state and the centre to seek an longer term solution to this problem. When we know its going to happen, why not prepare for it and try to reduce the disaster to a minimum.

Looking into the scale of the Brahmaputra, this must sound like an herculean task. I don't want to be philosophical but, "when there is a will, there is a way". And I want to see the will in the concerned people to make an effort in this regard. Until then, the people of Assam has to bear the wrath of the mighty Brahmaputra.

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Ramanagaram: A trip to see Bollywood history

If you ask someone about one of the most famous movie in Bollywood (film industry in Mumbai, India: Synonymous to Hollywood), you can't miss one movie in most of the lists: 'Sholay'.

Landscape of Ramanagaram

The place we visited recently has its relation to this legendry Bollywood movie. Ramanagaram is situated ~ 50 kms from Bangalore in the Bangalore-Mysore highway. Its a small town with lots of huge rocky outcrops. This place is also popular with rock climbers and adventure sports enthusists. The location was also selected for the village "Ramgarh" in the hindi movie Sholay.

I got my first car recently and my friends were anticipating a long ride (they are just scapegoats, I was actually wanting to have on long drive) in it. So one fine day decided to drive to Ramanagaram ans see the places around. 

On a fine Saturday morning called up my friends Pankaj and Kshitij (they are my college friends from Kanpur working in GM). They were still sleeping, the common time pass for Bangalore techies on a Saturday morning. 

from left: Me, Kshitij and Pankaj

"Hey Pankaj" --- "Kya hain" --- "Chalna hain kya Ramanagaram" --- "Chalna hain kya? chalte hain. Kab nikalna hain" --- "9:30 tak latest nikal chahltein hain" --- "Theek hain. Hey Kshitij, Phuki ka phone hain. Ramanagaram chalna hain. Chal uth jaa jaldi". And thus our trip to Ramanagaram was finalized. I quickly went to have my bath.

By the time I left home it was 10. Filled my fuel talk to full and picked up my friends. We hit the Bng-Mysore highway by ~ 11 and then started the smooth ride towards Ramanagaram. The highway is awesome for drive and you can test your vehicles performance. All said and done, there is something you should be careful of:
"I wan enjoying the nice empty roads and sudenly was intercepted by a traffic police vehicle. I was told I exceeded speed limit. I was given a ticket. The speed limit was 50 and I was driving at 70. 70, thats because its a new car dude, I sould have been driving over 100 at such roads. Anyway, I paid the fine (Rs. 300/-) and moved on. So don't get carried away and keep eyes on the speed limit boards."

We stopped over to have our meal in the middle. The day was extremely hot and we had some tough time. We were expecting similar weather even at Ramanagaram and had our second thoughts on going on a long trek.  We reached there at ~ 12:40, distance covered ~ 60 kms. At Ramanagaram, take a right turn after "Ghousia College of Engineering" to hit a small road away from the highway. The road will take you upto the base of a temple. Its also passes through a small ghat kind of area. Its approx. 4 kms from the highway. We parked our car there and looked around for the roads.

Me with Ramanagaram kids. Car parking

A guide hopped in and promised us to provide the trip of a lifetime :) He was asking for Rs. 50/- and we agreed. He guided us through a route through a very small village. He started showing us stuffs (most relates to the movie Sholay). He showed us the place where the bridge was made (relate to the movie), where Thakurs house was located. One funny claim: "You remember the goat Jaya Bacchan hugged in the movie, that was mine", the guide said. He finally lead us 
through to the place where Gabbar Singh had his "adda". Its was combination of some nice hillocks, spreaded uniformely around. Some small rocks are spread around and the place was surrounded by high rocks hills (looked like a ideal place for rock climbing and rappling).  His claim of this place as Gabbar's den was realistic, and the place looked very similar. We started clicking pictures of the place and also enacted a small movie of the Gabbar Singh's "Kitne aadmi thein" dialouges (Pankaj as Gabbar). 

Gabar's den

Its time to move on. We came back to the base of the temple and bid adieu to our guide. A set of around 400 steps lead us to the top of the hill where the temple is situated. Saw a water tap and quickly quenched our thirst. Saw the places around and took rest. The view from the top was amazing. We can get a good view od the landscape around, with small rocky hills surrounding the place.
Temple at hill top

It was around 4 pm by then and we decided to move back to Bangalore. Reached home at around 6 pm after beating the traffics inside Bangalore. Went out for dinner with Kh,Pnk and headed back home. It was tiring because of the extremely hot weather, but fun. Some new places to see, and just hang out at some places outside Bangalore (my idea of a perfect weekend).

Informations that migt help:
- Distance ~60 kms each way
- Water is available but nothing to eat. Carry eatables
- Roads are awesome, you will atleast enjoy the ride
- Turn right from the highway after "Ghousia College of Engineering" and drive until you see the entrance to the temple. There are enough parking space there for free
- Take a guide, its helps and its fun

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Food we Indians eat...

This image gives a good variety of local specialty cuisine from different states in India. One more display of the diversity we have in our country. So next time you visit a state, make sure you try their local cuisines.

Monday, August 18, 2008

China the next sports Superpower?

I was expecting this to happen, in fact the world was expecting this to happen: "China is already leading heavily in the medals tally at Beijing Olympics". Olympics is just halfway and China has already bettered their last times performance of 32 golds (they now have 35 gold medals, equal to the ones the USA won last time in Athens).

The beauty of this years China's performance is they have grabbed medals from places where they were not considered good historically, say it womens swimming, archery. So with half of the medals still to come (most in Athletics though, USA stronghold), it will be interesting to see what final medals tally China ends up getting, AND can USA catch up?

I am also proud of the gold medal India (Abhinav Bindra) has won. But don't you think after so many years of Olympics participation, first Individual gold medal in the history of Olympics is a bit disappointing.

Added on 29th August:- Added a bit late here, China ended first with a real dominant performance winning 51 golds. Thats one of the highest in recent times (if we forget the 80/84 boycotted games). This is the arrival of the new sports superpower.

Thursday, July 24, 2008

This happens only in India

An funny email forward received from one of my friend.
Some unique things that only happens in India.. Just keep your logics at bay.

And you though bikes are just for riding (we can even sleep)

Boys hunting.. Guys beware

And you thought trains just runs on railroads.. See in in the roads

And you though each team have 11 players (see an additional player, the tree)

And you thought it was fun to have a farewell picture

And you thought trucks just run on roads, see it in the rail tracks

The designer never might have imagined this loading condition for the suspension (he did a good job, suspension still survives)

The best for the last, And you thought......

Arctic holds 90 billion barrels of oil: US

News excerpts from NDTV:

"The area north of the Arctic Circle has an estimated 90 billion barrels of recoverable oil, the US Geological Survey (USGS) has said.

Included in the Artic bonanza is 1,670 trillion cubic feet of natural gas and 44 billion barrels of natural gas liquids, the USGS said in a statement posted on its website.

The Arctic Circle is the name given to the region around the North Pole. It includes the Arctic Ocean, the northern parts of Europe, Asia, North America and the Russian Far East."

No wonder Russia has been making claims to all the resources in the Arctic region.

"Before we can make decisions about our future use of oil and gas and related decisions about protecting endangered species, native communities and the health of our planet, we need to know what's out there," said USGS director Mark Myers.

This is something which is very true in the current scenario. Global warming has already become a monster which is directly affecting the Arctic endangered species. The quest of energy hungry world should not cause additional irreversible damage to these ecosystem.

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

Visit to Golconda Fort, Hyderabad

I went to Hyderabad some time back to meet my cousin who works there in an video gaming company. We went out for site seeing in the afternoon. This video was taken from one of the structures during the visit to Golconda Fort. Golconda Fort is located on the western outskirts of the city. It is known for the amazing acoustic system. During the course of the video you will be hearing sounds of hands clapping. This is part of the demonstration given by some of the guides on the acoustic system, where a simple clap at the entrance of the gate can be heard at other end on the top of the fort. At ancient times, this was used to communicate (and also send warning signals). Also at the entrance can be seen the famous "Rahban" cannon.

There is a sound and light show that happens in the evening at the fort, after sunset. We took some ice-cream and joined the show. It started raining after during the course of the show and we had to leave the show halfway.

Monday, July 14, 2008

Trip to Shivasamudram Waterfalls

This visit was done quite some time back, during my initial days in Bangalore. The office team went for an off-site, and as a part of it we had a stop over to see the Shivasamudram waterfalls. I was thrilled just at the first sight of this massive waterfalls (you know why by looking at the video).

The Shivasamudram waterfalls have twin jumps, Gaganachukki and Bharachukki one km away from each other. The one you see in the video is Gananachukki.


Shivasamudram is also famous for the first hydro electric station in India started in 1902. This was supplied by General Electric.

Shivasamudram is the second biggest waterfall in India and the sixteenth largest in the world.

Friday, July 11, 2008

Mysore Zoo

Recently went to Mysore with my friends. We also took out some time to visit the zoo. My experience at the Mysore zoo was very satisfying. The zoo is well maintained (its really crowded though, a -ve) with most of the common animals found there.

Most of the animals were kept in a environment closest to its possible natural habitat. The zoo had sufficient space, and they had the luxury to give enough to the animals. One of the main attraction, the Giraffe, is kept at the entry to the zoo which welcomes the public.

The above video was captured when two zebras were in their playful mood. It was satisfying to see the animals having fun even in their captivity. It looked like they were just kids who wanted to go out and have fun.

Well, thats the fun to be born wild......

Stupid news in the Indian Television News channel

Taken from an email forward received from my friend. Its interesting to see the quality of news that is broadcasted by some of the Indian news channel :o)

News about the food menu of an Indian politician (Daal, Puri). Who cares what they eat.

News about a cat getting trapped and finally saving itself. What the hell, there are peoples dying.

An movie star got cold. For gods sake cold happens to every other person in the street. Tell me when he gets something bigger (God forbidden it should never happen).

The dog of police commissioner got lost. Well this is extreme

Sunday, July 6, 2008

The rise of the prince Rafa

The reign of king of tennis Roger Federer (FedEX) seems ending with the arrival of the prince at centre court in Wimbledon, Rafael Nadal. Rafa yesterday defeated FedEX in an epic five setter (6-4/6-4/6-7/6-7/9-7) and stopped Federer to enter into the history book. I have previously discussed in my blog about how Federer is loosing grounds, and how I do not support peoples opinion on the end of Federer. I still stand by it. A player of the class of Federer won't fade away so soon. Its time before he reinvest himself and come back fighting vigorously.

This win is a special one for Rafael, not because he won Wimbledon, but he has proven to the world that he is not just the clay guy. He has ruled clay court as did Federer on grass. So it will be interesting in the coming months to see how this FedEx-Rafa rivalry takes shape with Rafa catching up fast on Federer (or shall I say he is already starting to overtake).

Now it will be more fun to keep track of the coming grand slam and masters tennis championships.


This is something I read somewhere a long time ago and noted down in my diary during my engineering grad school. I am sorry for not providing the original reference, I don't have it.

"While Science has not yet completely explained the actual mechanism of fatigue, the Engineer must still design things that does not fail.

In a sense this is a classic example of the meaning of Engineering as contrasted with Science. Engineers use science to solve their problem if the Science is available. But available or NOT, the problem must be solved, and whatever form the solution takes place under this conditions is called Engineering"

Saturday, July 5, 2008

Faculty quota in IIT's: Are we crossing limits...

The news article:
HRD orders faculty quota, IIT directors livid

"Buoyed by its success in pushing through a quota for OBC students in higher education, the government has now ordered IITs to introduce - with "immediate effect" - quotas in the teaching faculty for scheduled castes, scheduled tribes and OBCs."

When I read this news, I was really disappointed. I feel its okay (though i do not support) with people getting a chance to get educated even if they did not had the merit for that, but teaching without merit, UNACCEPTABLE. By that was you are even ruining the students with merit and with a passion to learn.

I am not against SC, ST or OBC (I am an OBC). I know if they deserve it, they will get it. Though we sometimes need to give opportunities to peoples, the opportunity should not be to ruin someone else. I think teaching is a role with great responsibility, dignity and respect; and at a premier institute like IIT, only the deserved ones should get a chance.

I don't know why someone would want to get in through reservation. How will he feel in front of his pupils when they know he came through reservation.

Did IPL revived Indian Cricket?

IPL was the big hyped T20 club cricket tournament that recently concluded in India. Beyond the entertainment it provided, did it do any good for Indian cricket?

Though at first sight it looked like an entertainment show only (involving big movie stars), and it hardly benifited Indian cricket. But to be honest, I have seen improved form of lot of our cricketers after playing in IPL which makes me happpy. The beauty of IPL was that lot's of young Indian players got a chance to play with international star's. The pressure level that comes with International cricket was also missing from IPL, and cricketers got a chance to take more risks and succeed. The Indian team selectors also identified a big pool of talented bench strength, who looked ready to perform in international level. Well time will tell how these guy's go ahead and perform in future.

Most of the Indian current players regained their form in a big way which they are continuing in the Bangladesh tour and current Asia Cup in Pakistan. Gambhir, Sehwag looks like they are in best of their form. Dhoni, Yuvraj, Suresh Raina and Rohit Sharma also looks good. So though many may not like the glitters and "Masala" of the IPL, they should be happy to see the revival of form of the players.

It also impacted career of many International players. Shane Watson and Shaun Marsh, two of the starts of the IPL was called to join the Australian national team, and they are doing wonders.
Same applies to Brendon McCullum of New Zealand.

IPL is here to stay for a longer term, and hopefully it will keep benefiting our cricket; in addition to providing entertainment to the nation and money to our cricketers.

Monday, June 30, 2008

Spain rules Europe

Spain defeated Germany 1-0 in the EURO 2008 final to lift the trophy after a drought of 44 years. Well I am a happy man, as they were my favorites from the lot. I saw their first match against Russia (which they won 4-1) and became an instant fan. They were so confident and their passing were just awesome. They repeated their magic game again against Russia in the semi-finals. Well towards the end of the semi-final game, they were just been casual, and having fun. That was their skill level.

I was expecting Spain to perform good in the finals, but Germany's performance was disappointing though. I expected it to be a closer fight than what it turned out to be. If Spain had not missed the chances they created, we could have seen the real score (may be 3-0, 3-1).

So all the other non European teams, watch out for them in the world cup 2010. They have a young team which will be completely available until then, fully prepared for the World Show.

India Corruption Study 2007, an eye opener...

This is the third, in a series of surveys which Transparency International India (TII) has done to measure the extent of petty corruption. The niche about this study was its focus on below poverty line (BPL) households.

The scope of the study is not only limited to perceptions about corruption in general, but perception in specific context of a service and, more importantly, actual experience of paying bribe by BPL households in availing one or more of the 11 selected public services. Depending on frequency of interaction, the eleven services are divided broadly into “basic services” (PDS, Hospital Service, School Education (up to 12th), Electricity Service and Water Supply Service) and “need based services” (Land Records / Registration, Housing Service, Forest, NREGS, Banking Service and Police Service (traffic and crime)). The study does not include operational irregularities in the system and even corruption that does not involve citizens directly.
Estimation of bribe: The total bribe amount involved in a year in BPL households availing the eleven services covered in this study is estimated as Rs. 8,830 million.

Services ranked: School education is least corrupt service. Police stood number one corroborates the general impression. The Land Records / Registration and House/Plot, which are specially tailored for BPL households, stand at two and three in the rank is a matter of concern.


Relative position of states on Corruption: No state is anywhere near "zero corruption" level. States are grouped into four levels to explain the extent/level of corruption based on a weightage scheme – Moderate, High, Very High and Alarming.

First thing I noticed was Assam, the state I belong to, is at the top of the list in terms of corruption. It feels bad, but this can be seen as an opportunity by the state government to improve their processes and governance focussed on the BPL households. Himachal has done good (being moderate) in all the 11 services. One common thing that I can see from it is, in general the states which are doing good economically also have lower level of corruption. Something that is not surprising. I hope the state governments take this report seriously and don't just throw it as a junk report.

Other highlights can be found at the report at the following location:

Saturday, June 28, 2008

When I played with the Indian Cricket team...

Our office have corporate booking in the badminton courts at Chinnaswamy stadium over the weekends. Every Saturday I make it a point to utilize this facility and join my friends to play badminton. We always go over and have some fun out there.

This weekend was no different and I met my office colleagues at the stadium. We were playing our regular game and suddenly we were out for surprise. We saw two strangers walking in. I suddenly realized they weren't any strangers and looked like very familiar faces to me. It was Bhajji and Dinesh Kartik from the Indian cricket team. At that time courts were occupied by us and they were looking for one. We vacated one court for them and enjoyed seeing them playing singles with each other.

(From L-R: Me, Ramesh Powar, Bhajji, Dinesh Karthik, company friends)

Finally they (Bhajji and Kartik) teamed up and we played couple of doubles games with them. My colleagues won the first match. In between Ramesh Powar also showed up. Me and Kumar teamed up to play the next match against Bhajji and Kartik. It started off well with both giving good fight. Finally we lost the match. It was fun challenging them, and firing some good smashes at them :-)

It was their time to leave and we requested for autographs. We also requested for a photograph and they happily obliged for both.

After I walked out of the indoor stadium towards my bike, I saw some of the other members from the Indian cricket team, Zaheer Khan, Laxman, Ashish Nehra, Wasim Zafar. There is a camp happening for the test team and that was the reason I saw all these Indian team players in Chinnaswamy stadium.

Pleasant surprises....

Friday, June 27, 2008

Field Marshal Sam Manekshaw passes away

Former Army Field Marshal Sam Manekshaw passed away at Military Hospital in Wellington.

Field Marshal is the highest possible rank in the military of India. Only two Army appointments have been made by the Government of India since independence in 1947. The rank of Field Marshal though, existed in the old Indian Army.

Independent India's first, and only active Field Marshal (appointed when in service), was the then Chief of Army Staff Gen. Sam Manekshaw. A much admired and decorated World War 2 officer he was conferred the rank in 1973 by the Indira Gandhi-led government, largely in recognition of his sterling leadership during the Indo-Pakistani war of 1971. He is seen as being principally responsible, in a military sense, for an Indian victory in that war, and for the subsequent split of Pakistan.

May his soul rest in peace. He will be the inspiration for tons of young army officers and jawans for years to come.

Thursday, June 26, 2008

Assam tea and its GI status

Most peoples do know that Assam is famous for its tea. Assam tea by itself is a huge brand and it even received Geographical Indication status.

A geographical indication (sometimes abbreviated to GI) is a name or sign used on certain products or which corresponds to a specific geographical location or origin (eg. a town, region, or country). The use of a GI may act as a certification that the product possesses certain qualities, or enjoys a certain reputation, due to its geographical origin.

Orthodox tea is the second Assam product to bag the GI label after muga silk. The GI label is exclusive to only a handful of generically identifiable products such as Swiss watches, Czech crystals, champagne, Mysore sandalwood oil and Kancheepuram silk.

There are certain requirements that the product has to fulfill before getting the GI status. The products should have a specific geographical origin and possess qualities or a reputation that are special to that particular state or place of origin to qualify for the GI status.

The GI status is going to be hugely beneficial for Assam tea as it would now prevent replication in other parts.

For additional information on GI visit

Match fixing: No games are Isolated?

Match fixing controversies have always haunted the sports fraternity. Some of them have even brought an end to big sporting careers.

Match fixing controversy created a huge flutter in Indian media when the names of Indian cricket starts was revealed as being involved in match fixing scandals. Well it ended the career of Indian players like Mohammed Azharuddin and Ajay Jadeja. Hanse Conje (one of my favorite player) was banned from all forms of cricket due to match fixing.

Some of the recent match fixing news are coming from unexpected places:
- India-Malaysia Azlan Shah tie was fixed: report (PTI News)
Were Wimbledon matches fixed? (TOI News)

Looks like none of the games remains isolated from match fixing scandals.

I guess I will end up watching The Great Khali in WWE, because I already know the matches are fixed :-)

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

Do Asia cup cricket need more then three teams?

If you are tracking the Asia cup cricket in this Wimbledon and EURO soccer season, you might be disappointed to see the initial results. The big guns of Asia are winning by huge margins.

I wonder do we need to have six teams in Asia Cup just for the sake of making it bigger. Hongkong, UAE and should I add Bangladesh has come up with some awful performances. The initial scores say it all (Pak defeat Hongkong by 155 runs, India defeat Hongkong by 256 runs, Sri Lanka defeat Bangladesh by 131 runs). These are by no means competitive cricket. The three big guns India, Pakistan and Sri Lanka are the real deserving candidates to participate in this level of competition.

We can expect some good records to be made in this competition. I wonder if anybody are watching these matches.

India in FIFA world cup

With the EURO 2008 fever at complete high, we were discussing in office about India's chances of ever making it to the FIFA world cup? Well looking at the current situation, it looks impossible to me.

But most of us might not know that India did qualified for the FIFA world cup in 1950.

From wikipedia:

"India qualified by default for the 1950 FIFA World Cup as a result of the withdrawal of all of their scheduled opponents. However, they did not take up their place in the competition because FIFA demanded all players at the World Cup finals should wear football boots. A number of the Indian players refused to abide by this rule and the team was forced to withdraw. The team has never since come close to qualifying for the World Cup.

India also finished 4th in the football tournament at the 1956 Melbourne Olympics, and won the 1962 Asian Games Gold medal, and reached the semi-finals in the next two Asian Games tournaments in what became known as the golden era of Indian football."

The great rhino conservation success story

Something I thought worth sharing

*Information collected from the web, wikipedia

Here is a comment from the WWF website:

"The Indian, or greater one-horned, rhino is a conservation success story. Thanks to strict protection measures, its population increased from 600 in 1975 to 2,400 in 2002. But it is still an endangered animal that faces the ever-present danger of poaching for its horn."

The Indian Rhinoceros or the Great One-horned Rhinoceros or the Asian One-horned Rhinoceros (Rhinoceros unicornis) is a large mammal found in Nepal and in Assam, India. It is confined to the tall grasslands and forests in the foothills of the Himalayas.

In Assam, rhinos are found in the Kaziranga National Park where it is under conservation.
Kaziranga National Park has been granted maximum protection under the Indian law for wildlife conservation. Various laws, which include the Assam Forest Regulation of 1891 and the Biodiversity Conservation Act of 2002 have been enacted for protection of wildlife in the park.

Here is the rhino population chart (from wikipedia).

Awesome isn't it??

There are still issues with poaching in Kaziranga.

Join the rhino conservation effort with

We're toast if we don't get on different path: NASA scientist

An real eye opener for the skeptics not agreeing to global warming.

"Exactly 20 years after warning America about global warming, a top NASA scientist said the situation has gotten so bad that the world's only hope is drastic action.

James Hansen told Congress on Monday that the world has long passed the ''dangerous level'' for greenhouse gases in the atmosphere and needs to get back to 1988 levels. He said Earth's atmosphere can stay this loaded with man-made carbon dioxide for a couple more decades without changes such as mass extinction, ecosystem collapse and dramatic sea level rises."

Click on the link below to read the story

For the latest news from India, visit

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

The Extremes of Geographical Ignorance

The first time I went to US was for a training. It was a week long training with participants from all parts of the globe (Europe, Asia and Americas).

One day I saw my friend rushing to me at an angry mood. Surprised I asked, “Hey buddy, what happened?” He said, “You know John (name changed) from my team, he asked me where I am from. When I said India, he was asking if it was close to Indonesia. What crap, don’t he have this simple geographical knowledge.” I was definitely amused…

To be honest, this is not the first time I am hearing this. This is nothing to complain about, it happens in all the places, at different scales though.

In India, I have seen that happening to my NE friends, the peoples from the seven sisters. First off all they are confused to be not part of India. I remember on of my friend from Tripura being asked, “Is Tripura part of Guwahati?” Funny huh…

I do not complain again, because, if someone tells me he is from Lesotho, I would ask him where does it belong?

For your information:
Lesotho, officially the Kingdom of Lesotho, is a landlocked country and enclave — entirely surrounded by the Republic of South Africa. Formerly Basutoland, it is a member of the Commonwealth of Nations. The name Lesotho roughly translates into "the land of the people who speak Sesotho."