Tuesday, December 30, 2008

UNCLE, Uncle, uncle...

"Uncle - Kitta poriya ? Uncle Chocolate tharuvaaru !!!" - sounded the voice of my colleague. She was pointing at me and talking to her baby girl. There was a small voice in my head, that echoed like that background voice in the popular hair dye ad , "UNCLE, Uncle uncle...". When did this transition happen - the shift from "Anna" (elder brother) to "Mama" (Uncle)? Ever since I was a child, I had always been an "Anna". Of course, the elder kids would call me by name. But to all the younger ones, I was introduced as "Anna". Over the past year (or even more), there has been a transition from "Anna" to "Mama".

I'll not forget this particular instance that occurred a few months back. We were having a company get-together and many of my colleagues had brought their families along. I was trying to play with one of my Colleague's Kids. I stretched my hands towards the kid and called out, "Anna-kitta variyaa?". My colleague was sitting nearby tending to his other kid. From that seated position, he just lifted his head, looked at me with a slightly amused-cum-mocking look and said "Anna-vaa?" :)

I realize that it's not only me. I've seen many other guys who are about the same age as me, react in a similar way. On a more serious note, of course, all of us accept that we're getting older. In fact, we rarely bother about it (We're not that old, yet). But on a lighter vein, hearing someone introduce us as an 'uncle' give a slight prick :) One of my friends has taken to signing his name as 'Youth' in his personal mails to friends :)

Nowadays, age (or 'youthfulness') is a regular way of teasing others. The younger guys in our group will call themselves 'kids' and tease the older ones as grandpas, while the older guys will pretend that the younger ones are not old 'enough' to understand certain things :). But as soon as a guy marries, this equation will automatically change. He will then become the 'Big uncle' or the 'Grandpa' of the group, even if he is much younger than the rest of us.

We are going through a transitional period of our lives - We're getting older and moving out of the college (or fresh out of college) mentality; settling down in our respective careers; seeing so many fresh baby faces around in our workplace (against whom we seem older); hairlines receding (this is a very important one); and slowly each one is entering into marital relationships. I guess, all these are making us want to hold on to the image of "youth", a little longer.

I would like to revisit this post when I make the next transition - from being an 'Uncle' to a 'Thatha' / 'Grandpa'. I wonder how it'll be then :)

Sunday, December 21, 2008


Last week, the outgoing US president Bush paid a visit to Iraq. While there were elaborate security measures to protect the president from terrorist attacks, no one expected him to be hit by a shoe. This act of defiance by an Iraqi reporter has caught the world's attention for the past few days. This is not something seen so often in the news. While Bush has brushed it off, the reporter has been arrested, allegedly beaten and made to apologize. The shoes were also destroyed. Now, almost after a week, I read these lines in the newspaper,

"A new run of 15,000 pairs, destined for Iraq, went into production on Thursday, he said. A British distributor has asked to become the Baydan Shoe Co.’s European sales representative, with a first order of 95,000 pairs, and a U.S. company has placed an order for 18,000 pairs. Four distributors are competing to represent the company in Iraq, where Baydan sold 19,000 pairs of this model for about $40 each last year.

Five thousand posters advertising the shoes, on their way to the Middle East and Turkey, proclaim “Goodbye Bush, Welcome Democracy” in Turkish, English and Arabic."

Ever since the reporter threw his shoes at the president, they have become quite popular. A shoe maker from Turkey, Ramazan Baydan, claims to be maker of those shoes. The result - he's now flooded with orders from around the world for that model of shoes. The shoe's sudden popularity or that the president's unpopularity is proving to be a gold rush for this cobbler.

Strange world ... :)

Here's the news article : ‘Bush shoe’ gives a Turk firm footing

Stuff, Stuff and more stuff...

70 million computer mice, 60 million motherboards, 2 million square meters of wooden flooring, billions of plastic/glass/wooden beads, 15 billion buttons, 200 million yards of zippers, 8 billion pairs of socks, 300 million ties, 3 billion toothbrushes ...

What is this list? This is a teeny tiny portion of the stuff churned out by Chinese factories in a year. Are these the total production figures for the entire country? Again, the answer is a big 'NO'. This is just the amount of stuff churned out by a single factory or a single small city in China. For example, the electronics company 'Logitech' has a manufacturing base in the Chinese city of Suzhou. It produces approximately 70 million computer mice per year and supplies under its own brand as well as under other brands like 'Dell'. 'Acer' etc. Almost every single molecule of any product that we use everyday is from these huge Chinese factories. We're now buying things because they're being produced and are available in the market, rather than things being produced because they're needed for our life.

Over the past 3 decades, China has taken up mass manufacturing at a scale not imagined by anyone before. There are millions of factories across China churning out products by the billions. Most of us would not have heard of any of these companies as most of these products are sold under popular home brands of the respective countries. This is in contrast to the development model of the Japanese or the South Koreans who, over the years, have built up a popular brand image and value. While the world would blindly trust a product from a popular company in Japan / Korea, we would think twice before purchasing a product marketed directly as "Made in China". But in all probability, the entire product floated by the Japanese / Koreans would've been manufactured in China.

The massive scale of production in the Chinese territory, the ways & means of sourcing the raw materials to meet this production scale and the consequences of such massive production & dumping of products, while awe inspiring, also makes me uncomfortable and uneasy.For example, the Chinese city of Zhangjiagang is like the 'wooden workshop of the world' producing all sorts of stuff like plywood, wooden flooring, furniture etc. Seeing the effects of large scale deforestation on the Chinese forests, the government banned the felling of natural forests in the country. As a result, the wooden industry turned to the outside world for wood supply. Currently, China is said to be the largest importer of wood and a sizable percent of it is supposed to be illegal. Millions and Millions of acres of rain forests are being destroyed illegally and the wood is sent to the Chinese factories to be made into furniture to be sold to the affluent of the world. Forests of Africa, South America, Indonesia etc are rapidly diminishing due to this illegal trade.

The Chinese have a majority market share in almost every single product that you can imagine. There is a region in China,specializing in fake oil paintings that we see in hotels, shops and other public places. This place churns out thousands of fake Mona lisa, Marlyn Monroe and even Bush. There are huge markets selling plant herbs, animals parts and even human placentas to be used in traditional medicines.

The output of every product is in the Billions. I'm personally not in favor of this model of development which has produced millions of workers working around 100 hours a week, on the same monotonous job in an assembly line, for an extremely low wage. Some argue that this is better than the wretched life that these people would be living, if not for such factories. But I'm not comfortable with that thought. This model has produced millions of workers with steady, but low wages on one hand and a handful of rich factory owners, managers and industrialists on the other. The cities become divided into sections of huge overcrowded workers, interspersed with affluent homes and apartments.

This type of mass production is also building up clutter in this world. Everywhere we see huge warehouse style shops in our places such as Saravana stores or Big Bazaar in India or the ones like Walmart or target in the US. They have huge mounds of stuff at dirt cheap prices, all mass produced in such factories in China. We see people buying stuff by the cart loads. Most do not even care if they really need these items. They're just cheap and attractive. I see a huge glut of materials among the affluent of the world. Each one has something like 2 televisions, 3 mobile phones, 2 laptops, 2 cars, 10 bags, 20 pens and 5 bundles of paper. The concept of buying just one of any item seems to be vanishing. Here in US, I don't think I can buy a single pen or just 10 sheets of paper. I have to buy a pack of 10 pens or a whole bundle of paper.

The mass output of such factories have not yet covered the entire humanity. Imagine what will happen if the entire human population starts living like this. The production which is already in the billions would shoot up into the Trillions, Zillions or Pillions (I don't know what such huge numbers are called). Where are we going to get the resources for these? What will be ecological footprint of these operations? How are we going to dispose the waste products? I don't think, this mindless obsession for filling up our lives with endless cheap material possessions, augurs well for this planet.

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

A billion Lives

Mankind is a warring animal. Ever since man evolved from primates (possibly even before that), he/she has been involved in some kind of conflict. Archeologists have even speculated about the possible conflicts between Homo sapiens and Neanderthals in which we, the homo sapiens triumphed. Until the last few hundred years, these conflicts were mostly local and affected only a particular section of the world. But as man advanced technologically, so did his reach across the planet. Conflicts started becoming global and have now reached a point of threatening the very existence of our species.

The last century saw two global wars - wars that affected almost every part of earth; wars born out of greed for money, power and resources; wars conducted without any respect for human lives. The aftermath of the wars rewrote the political, economic and the social landscape of the planet. New countries were born; Peace blossomed in some regions, while more bloody wars were fought. How has the world fared after its epic battles? What has been happening in the different parts of the world? 'A Billion Lives' - a book by Jan Egeland provides a view of the world's most troubled spots as seen through the eyes of its author - a former undersecretary general for the United nations.

Jan has lived on the front lines of UN operations under Kofi Annan. He has also worked with the Norwegian Ministry. Through these posts he has traveled to many of the most dangerous and troubled spots on earth, has held talks with the most ruthless rebel/government leaders and has arranged humanitarian relief efforts in those areas. In his book, he takes us on a journey through the civil wars and disasters in Colombia, Uganda, Zimbabwe, Iraq, Lebanon, Palestine, Indonesia and Darfur. He describes in detail, the background of the conflict or the disasters in each region and walks us through the progress made in each place. He provides an insight into the minds of the dictators, rebel leaders and other warring factions.

All the places (except Indonesia where he assists the Tsunami victims) described in the book have been ravaged in mindless, unnecessary wars. Whatever be the history, economy, geography or religion of the place, one thing is common - Wars have served no purpose and have been waged without purpose. End of the day, people suffer. Most importantly, the young children, women, old people - all the vulnerable sections suffer the most. Most of the rebels fighting decade long wars do not seem to have any particular agenda. They really do not know what they're fighting for and why. And most of them are headed by paranoid maniacs who are perpetually afraid of their lives and ruthlessly kill anyone and everyone.

While the UN has carried out numerous relief programs, it has not been able to successfully prevent the ruthless genocides, unless approved by the Security council and the majority of nations. A full approval by the security council is very difficult as one or other permanent members invariably vetoes the proposals. For example, China has consistently refused to back any proposal to pressurize Sudan to stop the Darfur Genocide. Jan describes his helplessness towards the Darfur Atrocity - "The one thing the women beg of me - protection & security - is the only thing we cannot as UN humanitarian workers give them".

In many cases, I felt nauseated reading about the cruelty (the word is just not strong enough) of these so called Militias/rebels/governments/terrorists. He talks about the 20 year long fighting that has been raging on in Uganda. "The Northern part of the country is in the hands of a rebel group called 'Lord's resistance Army' which has kidnapped more than 20,000 children, who have been brutalized, tortured and raped while being forced to join this self-styled army and attack their own villages and families in a forgotten war".

In every scenario, Jan describes the frustrating way in which the peace talks seem to be progressing slowly over the years only to be suddenly broken and everything returning to square one, resulting in a fresh wave of violence, killings and sufferings. He has tried to finish his account in an optimistic note. He has cited statistical evidence that conflicts have reduced around the world. For example, there were 10 unfolding genocides in 1989, while there was just one in 2006. But somehow, these accounts leaves the reader with a big question about our species - Can we ever learn to live in peace and harmony? In the past 10,000 years, I've not seen any evidence of that being possible. The recent conflicts are so huge in scale affecting millions of lives. Millions of children have been abused, tortured and forced to torture others. Entire generations are being bred on violence which would effectively be creating socially retarded psychopaths, accustomed to killings and insensitive to suffering. I fear this generation. We can see some encouraging examples of some of the conflict zones successfully returning to peaceful ways. I just hope that at some point, our species comes to its senses before we ruthlessly destroy ourselves.

From the perspective of a book, this is a really good one. Jan has clearly portrayed the conflict zones and has powerfully expressed his feelings of anger, sadness, frustration and in some cases relief and happiness. The book gives us a good idea of the intricacies of international affairs, the key players and the way the game is played across the world.

Friday, November 14, 2008

Chandrayaan - making us proud !

It is truly a red letter day in India's history. We've become the fourth nation to drop our flag on the lunar surface. Chandrayaan has made each one of us proud. We now join one of the very few countries in the world to have demonstrated the capability to carry out space missions. This is a very good answer to all the cynics who say, "If it is made in India, then it'll surely break down". As Madhavan Nair put it, there are not many countries who've been this successful in their first attempt. And the most important thing is that we've done it with one of the smallest budgets.

Our scientists are truly amazing to have carried out such an enormous task with a very high degree of precision. This is truly a moment for each one of us to be proud of being an Indian. I only hope that we replicate this achievement in every other field.

Kudos to the Chandaryaan team for making us proud with this successful mission !!! Kudos to all the scientists and workers of ISRO !!! We salute your achievements and wish you success in each one of your future endeavours !!!

I sincerely hope that the probe functions with the same precision seen so far, for the rest of its lifetime. Plans are already on for Chandrayaan-2 and talks are circulating about a possible mission to Mars or Venus.While it is nice to dream of such things, we should not get carried away by our initial success. We should take one step forward at a time, with great care and planning.

ISRO's mission have made significant contributions to our economy and provide tons of data that have significantly boosted weather prediction models, agricultural practices, remote sensing, mapping terrains, communications, entertainment etc. In my opinion, following an indigenous space programme is one of the best decisions taken by our governments.

Having said all this, I also find ISRO's home page to be really pathetic. It is very informative, but it is no way appealing, especially for such a high-tech institution as ISRO. On top of that, we're the outsourcing capital of the world with an IT company in every nook and corner, any of whom would do a very good job of designing the site. The site looks like a collection of HTML pages designed as a school project.There is a link, "Suggestions for website" on the main page which then opens the "mail compose" page to send a mail to the webmaster. I'm planning to send in some of my suggestions :). Such a world class institution deserves a world class brand and site.

ISRO Homepage:

Saturday, November 08, 2008

Parangikai Errisserry

It's Halloween season here and the markets are full of pumpkins. I had bought a small piece, a few days back and was looking for something different to do with it. That's when I came across the popular Kerala dish - Errissery. I tried the dish today. It came out well. But I'm not so sure if this is what an Errisserry should taste like. I'm hoping to give to some of my Keralite friends and get their feedback :) In the meantime, I'm sharing the recipe here. (Whatever it is, it tasted good).

Pumpkin (parangikai) - 1 1/2 cups diced into small cubes of around a cm wide
Shredded Coconut - 1/4 cup
Red chillies - 7-8 (depends on your spice level)

Cumin seeds (jeeragam) - 1 tsp
Salt - as per taste
Turmeric powder - around 1/2 tsp
Mustard seeds - 1 tsp
Curry leaves - for garnishing
Coconut oil or any other cooking oil

  1. Boil the pumpkin with around 3/4 cups of water along with salt and turmeric powder.
  2. Fry the shredded coconut, red chillies and cumin (you can add a very small amount of oil) till the coconut is reddish. Grind this mixture into a thick paste.
  3. Once the vegetable has cooked well, add the ground mixture to it. Add some water to it if required (take care not to make it too watery). Allow this mixture to boil well, letting the masala blend with the vegetables.
  4. Fry some mustard seeds and curry leaves and add to the dish. You can also add some coconut oil to the dish to give it a nice flavour and smell.
  5. The dish is ready to be served :)
We had a nice lunch today with this Errisserry, Paruppu thuvaiyal, Rice, tapioca curry and curd. The Errissery tasted good when mixed with rice. It was also a good combination with the thuvaiyal and curd rice.

Wednesday, November 05, 2008

US elections - acceptance speeches

The main leg of the US elections are over. The electoral college has been decided. All that remains is the formal process of the electoral college selecting Obama and Biden as President and Vice-President of USA. I followed the election coverage on TV yesterday. There were a few words that were repeated so often by everyone - Bad economy... Change... New young voters... Once the poll projections forecast an Obama victory, both the candidates gave acceptance speeches in front of their respective home crowds. Both were them clear, courteous and did not express any resentment towards the other candidate.

The poll results started coming out as soon as polling closed in each state. The early closing states on the east coast started giving out the results hours before polling closed in other western states. In addition to this, the news channels gave out their projections and by 11:00 pm Obama was decisively projected to be the winner. Actually both candidates gave out their acceptance speeches even before polling closed in Alaska.

Both of them are very good orators. They did not have notes or papers and spoke as though they feel each and every word that they spoke. The crowd responded to each and every word of theirs. There were joyful tears all around in the Obama meeting. You could see the expressions of pride, happiness, achievement and determination on all the faces as he spoke.
First, McCain delivered his acceptance speech from his home state, Arizona. I liked it very much. He was quite gracious in accepting defeat and then wished Obama on his victory. He termed this to be McCain's failure and not the people's and asked them to cooperate with Obama. There was no complaints, no accusations and no drama. This is a very good example of how a democratic process should go. Here's the video of his speech.

Obama then gave his acceptance speech from Chicago, Illinois. He also wished McCain and Sarah Palin. He gave much credit to Mccain by saying that "the man has made so many selfless sacrifices for the country that many of us cannot even begin to imagine". He then went on to describe the tough days ahead and gave the example of an old lady in Atlanta who voted at age 106 and reinforced the faith that "together as Americans, we can bring change".

Obama's victory seems to carry a new meaning to most Americans here. The African Americans take this as an example of how anyone can achieve great heights in America regardless of race, colour etc. This has given them a lot of hope and energy. Obama has energized the younger generation of voters who had become disillusioned with the electoral process. This election apparently saw record turnout of young voters. Every demographic category seem to find something in Obama to be proud of. Let's wait and see how the next 4 years turn out.

Tuesday, November 04, 2008

US election - How is it held?

The entire world is now closely watching the US presidential elections. The entire country is caught in the election fervor and as I write this post, the preliminary results have started appearing and all news channels are continuously discussing the outcomes. There has been lots of discussions on the electoral process here. I've made a small attempt to explain the process to all the non-Us folks following this.
  1. The United States Congress is the bicameral legislature of the federal government of the United States of America, consisting of two houses, the Senate and the House of Representatives. As the name suggests, the senate has senators and the House of representatives consists of representatives. The number of representatives from a particular state depends on its population. The Senate house has 2 senators from each state.
  2. The US president is not elected directly by the people. Through today's election, the U.S. citizens elect an electoral college (They need not be senators / representatives). The number of people elected to the electoral college from each state is equal to the number of representatives and the number of senators from the state. For example, California has 53 representatives and 2 senators and hence has 55 electoral votes. Each member of the electoral college has one presidential and one vice-presidential vote.
  3. In 48 states and Washington D.C., all the electoral votes go to the victorious party. For example, let us assume that the democratic party secures majority votes in California. Then all 55 electoral votes will go that party. So, it will not matter if one county in California has voted overwhelmingly republican. Only the total number of votes at the state level is considered.
  4. In the states of Maine and Nebraska alone, they are counted on a district level. So, it is possible that democratic party wins a few votes while the republican party wins the rest.
  5. Once this election is over, members of electoral college who got elected, will gather on Dec 15 and will vote for the president and vice-president. On Jan 8, these votes will be tallied in front of both the house and the winner will be declared as president and Vice-president. And obviously, the president will belong to the party that has got the most electoral votes as the members of the electoral college will definitely support their party.
  6. There are totally 538 electoral votes. Of this, the candidate should get at least 270 votes to be elected as president / vice-president. This system makes it possible for a person to become president even if he/she has got lesser number of votes from the public. For example, the democrats might have got 49% votes in Florida and the Republicans might have got 51%. The margin is very less. But this proportion will not be reflected in the electoral college, as the republicans would get the entire 27 electoral votes of Florida.

Now, some features of this election :)

  1. The elections are held by the respective states themselves. As a result, there are different rules.
  2. Polls close at different times in different states. For example, polls close at 8:00 pm in New Jersey while it closes at 9:00 pm in New york. Polls close at 9:00 pm in California. But due to time different, it'll already be 12:00 am in New York.
  3. As soon as the polls close, the states start counting and release the results. Counting mostly take place in the voting centers itself. As a result, the earlier states start releasing results even before voting completes in others. This sometimes affect the mood of the public and form trends. This has been criticized by many.
  4. In addition to this, the different news agencies continuously release exit polls throughout the day affecting public opinion.
  5. The candidates campaign even on the election day. They cast their votes and then continue campaigning.
  6. Since the states hold elections, each follow a different method. Some of them have paper ballots, some have electronic machines and others have machines with touch screen. If a state has electronic voting, but a voter wants a paper ballot, then he/she should be provided with a paper ballot.

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

'Meera' by Ellis Dungan

"Katrinilie Varum Geetham... Kangal Panithida Pongum Geetham..."

For most tamils, these lines would invoke memories of a young and beautiful M.S. singing the song as Mirabai. The song is from the film 'Meera' - released in 1945 and one of the classics in the Tamil film history. The song will be more familiar and will invoke greater emotions to our earlier generations - of our parents & grandparents. I have not seen the movie, but have heard/seen the song a few times - A really nice melodious song.

Now, why did this suddenly come up? Yesterday(28-Oct-08), Wikipedia sported a small snippet on this movie in its front-page. I followed the links and was really surprised to learn the movie was directed by an American director 'Ellis R. Dungan'.

Ellis is a native of Ohio, USA. He came to India after completing his studies in the 'cinema department' and directed tamil films from 1936 - 1950. He directed many hit films such as 'Sathy Leelavathi', 'Meera', 'Sakunthalai', 'Manthira Kumari' etc. 'Meera' and 'Sakunthalai' (both starring M.S.) are considered all time classics. Many of his films were based on historical settings and required shooting inside temples. At such times, he would disguise himself as a Kashmiri Pundit. He apparently introduced many new and modern filming techniques to Indian cinema and Tamil cinema in particular.

Personally, I feel that it is great to be able to direct such 'Classic' films in some language that he does not know, reflecting a culture that he's not very familiar with. In those days, most of the films were almost poetic and contained so many songs. The dialogues are so pure and poetic, that many young Tamils of today do not understand them. Even though he would've had so many to help him, I feel that it requires a real skill for a non-native to effectively direct such a film, bring out all the emotions and reach the audience as powerfully as these films did.

Some links on Dungan:

For those who would like to hear the song that I've specified at the beginning:

Saturday, October 25, 2008

The Chennai forums

Almost all of us have an affectionate corner in our hearts for our hometown. Wherever we are, we carry with us, fond memories of times in our hometown. I now live in a city that calls itself, "The greatest city on earth". However great this place might be, my first love is my hometown - Chennai.

Ever since I moved out of my hometown, I've always been on lookout for any news or any event related to Chennai. I surf around the net trying to read up news items and articles on the city, describing the new developments, constructions etc. It is one such trips around the net, that I stumbled on to this forum called 'skyscapercity.com'. This is a forum where people get together and discuss about the various cities of the world, infrastructural and architectural developments, new projects, people initiatives etc.

This forum has a separate section for different countries, cities, transport networks etc. There is a huge section on Chennai that has different sub-forums for general discussions, flyover updates, IT corridors, Road development projects such as ORR, city buildings, malls, MRTS, Metro etc. I'm happy that I've been a member of this forum for more than a year now. There are members from different walks of life and from different places around the world. Members regularly post updates on the city, photos of various city landmarks, under-construction structures etc. We also discussion on the pros and cons of various projects announced by the govt. and some members even draw up their own plans for subways, flyovers etc. There are some who are in the engineering / architecture fields who give us great ideas. Some of the members have taken these ideas to the concerned departments / IAS officers and some of them have actually been implemented.

So, we get to know lots of updates about the city, that even those currently in the city do not know. As a result, I really knew what to expect of the city when I visited the place lmost after 2 years. Though I've not given any great plans or ideas, I do post a few small ideas every now and then or post my views as the common pedestrian who has walked the streets of the city for a long time.

Today, Times of India has run an article about the forum that talks about how the forum brings together many city-lovers from across the world.
Talk of the Town - times of India

Here's a link to the main page of the Chennai section of Skyscrapercity:

Kara Kuzhambu

I was feeling quite bored with the usual cooking of mine - consisting of the same old sambhar or Vathal Kuzhambu or the tomato rasam. So, I decided to try a slightly different one - Kara kuzhambu. This would be a very very common dish in many households. But this is quite unusual in our households as we don't usually add tomatoes, garlic etc in our sambhar-like dishes. I thought it came out quite well. So, here's the recipe that I followed:

The quantities specified here will be sufficient for around 3-4 people.

For masala
Channa Dal (Kadalai Paruppu) - 2 tsp
Corriander seeds (Kothamalli verai) - 3 tsp
Fenugreek (Vendhayam) - 1 tsp
Red Chillies - 8
Chopped Onion (medium size) - 1/2
Chopped tomato (medium size) - 1
Garlic - 7 pods ( i used 2 tsp of ginger garlic paste)
Cumin seeds (jeeragam) - 1 tsp
Saunf (Sombu) - 1 tsp
Grated coconut - 1 handful (app)

Other ingredients
Tamarind paste - 1 tsp (I guess, this is equivalent to a tamarind piece that is slightly smaller than a lime)
Chopped Onion (medium size) - 1/2
Any chopped vegetable like Drumsticks, Brinjal, Capsicum etc - 1/2 cup
Turmeric powder - 1/2 tsp
Asafoetida (Perungayam) - a small pinch
Salt - as per taste (I used slightly 3/4 tsp)
Cooking oil - 3-4 tsp
Mustard seeds - 1/2 tsp
Curry leaves - few leaves for taste

  1. Pour around 2 tsp of oil in a frying pan and fry the Channa Dal, corriander seeds, fenugreek, Cumin seeds, Saunf and red chillies till they are red.
  2. Add the chopped onion (1/2) and the garlic pods to this and let it saute for a couple of minutes.
  3. Add the chopped tomatoes to this and cook till it is slightly soft.
  4. Grind this mixture along with the grated coconut and make it into a fine paste.
  5. Now, pour 2 tsp of cooking oil in a vessel and add a tsp of Channa Dal to it. When it starts becoming red, add the mustard seeds, asafoetida powder and the curry leaves to it.
  6. As the mixture starts spluttering, add the remaining chopped onions and saute it till the onion becomes translucent.
  7. Now any other vegetables that you have chopped. After a couple of minutes, add 1 cup of water with the tamarind dissolved in it.
  8. Add the turmeric powder and salt and allow the mixture to boil until the smell of raw turmeric and tamarind are suppressed.
  9. Now add the masala paste to the boiling mixture. Add some water if it becomes too thick. Let the mixture boil for some time till you get cooked aroma of the kuzhambu.
That's it. The kuzhambu is ready to served. :)

Quick points:
  1. Instead of frying and grinding Channa Dal, corriander seeds, fenugreek and red chillies, you can just use Sambhar powder.
  2. If you cannot grind anything, then chop the tomatoes and garlic as finely as possible, saute them and add to the kuzhambu. Then add the grated coconut and sambhar powder. Once the tomato is cooked well, it will make the sambhar nice and thick and give a ground paste effect.
  3. Things like saunf, cumin, Curry leaves, turmeric, asafoetida etc. add flavour to the kuzhambu. They can be skipped if you don't have them.
  4. Garlic is also strictly optional. If you do not like garlic, you can just leave it out of the picture.
People reading this - If you know any simpler or better or more creative ways to cook this dish, please let me know.

Thursday, October 09, 2008

'Dhonnai' - reinvented

On one of the usual lazy evenings, I was browsing through time.com, when I stumbled on to this article titled 'The Dish on Green Disposables' and contained the following opening paragraph -
"Americans trash an estimated trillion disposable plates and utensils every year; a single-use plate's useful life averages only about five minutes. For Verterra, a hyper-green New York City start-up, the solution is simple: fallen leaves and steam. That's all it takes to make the new plates and bowls Verterra hopes will soon change how Americans serve food at parties and picnics."

On went the article talking about how a person has created a biodegradable 'green' plates based on what he saw in India. And yes, as you would've by now guessed it, he has re-created our very own 'Dhonnai'. These are small disposable cups made of leaves that have been an integral part of prasadam in temples. He has created this Dhonnai out of palm leaves and has treated it with UV rays and has come out with a product that is microwave, dishwasher and freezer safe . Plus it also degrades in just 6 weeks.
Photo of the 'Dhonnai' from the product's website : www.verterra.com

While it is very good to see the world re-discovering our products and put them to better use, it is also painful to see how much we are moving away from them. Things like the Dhonnai are being ruthlessly replaced by plastics. People have started using disposable plastic cups for prasadams in temples. We even have plastic banana leaves, which according to me, completely robs the pleasure of eating on a banana leaf. The leaf itself adds additional taste to the food. Enter a big shop like Saravana stores and you'll see mountains of cheap Chinese made plastic wares on sale - more and more of these items are single-use items such as disposable plates, cups, spoons, plastic bags etc. If you walk on Ranganathan street after 10:00 pm, you can see huge 10 foot high mounds of waste plastic bags piled up in front of each shop. Now, this is not a problem only in India. Here in US, every shop gives plastic bags even for the smallest items bought. And most shops place one plastic bag inside another in order to 'reinforce' the bag, so that it can hold heavier stuff. One visit to the local grocery shop and we'll be stuck with around 10 plastic bags.

I'm not against plastics. Life cannot go on without them. But the amount of single-time disposable plastics is increasing at an astronomical rate. We should try to re-use them as much as possible or substitute these single-use 'useless' items with something more durable.

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

Small wonders

I came home from work by about 6:30 today. Dark rain clouds were gathering on one side of the sky while the evening sun shone brightly from the other side. It was quite an unusual sight - a light drizzle combined with the bright evening sun. Conditions were perfect for a rainbow and there it was - just above the building opposite my house !!! Here's my effort to capture it.

Tonight is the day before the summer solstice - the day when the sun is farthest from the equator in the northern hemisphere. Apparently this is also a day when the moon will be the lowest on the horizon. And lower it is in the sky, bigger it will 'appear' to be. So, the weather channel predicted a bigger than usual moon view. So, I walked down to the Hudson river front to get a night time view of the moon and the NY skyline. And here's what I saw:

I want to take a noiseless, clear night time photo. Hoping to get it right some day.

Saturday, June 07, 2008

Good old days...

Memories are flooding past one by one. Yesterday, I went to Hot breads in Jersey City and got a veg. puff and a black forest cake - a most favoured combination of our gang. I was reminded of those good old days when we used to stop by 'Iyengar's bakery' or 'Hot puffs' and have a veg puff and a cake ; days when myself, roger and kaus2 used to go to the college canteen to get their samosa / cutlet with the watered down ketchup.

Then there were those days when we spent entire evenings playing carom. Each one had our 'specialty' shots, weakness and strengths. We would play for hours together. Someday I would get the samosa/puff - cake combo from the bakery. Or my father would come in and give us trays filled with some snacks or pass on glasses of some juice. Nice days :) Why this sudden flash back of the carrom days ???? - I bought a carrom board today !!!!!!! - Played the game after a long time.

Hope we will get to have a replay of those good old days sometime in future. I know it will not be the same again - Still...

Monday, June 02, 2008

Life after IPL :)

A nice cartoon in the 'The Hindu' capturing the imapct of IPL on our people :) It has been like a huge festival for the past 1.5 months. The entire nation re-adjusted its daily schedule to suit the IPL and now it's going to be difficult to go back to the "old" ways.
I think its going to be difficult for the players too. Especially in cases where players from different countries would again have to return to the national teams and play against those who played with them in IPL.


Thursday, May 22, 2008

All in a day's work...

Last week, someone in my workplace had posted this printed note in our pantry. And today I found this handwritten note at the bottom.

Friday, May 09, 2008


Today morning, I was as usual browsing through the online edition of 'The Hindu' when the following words captured my attention: "Indians are world’s greenest consumers". So, I opened the article which starts like this, "Consumers in India care the most for the environment in terms of their day-to-day behaviour with those in the U.S. coming at the bottom, according to National Geographic.".

National geographic has conducted a survey on how much the consumers care for the environment. 14 countries were studied and 1000 people were surveyed in each country. They've come up with a score called 'Greendex'. Apparently India and Brazil have come out on top, thus earning the reputation of being the "world's" greenest.
I feel that this survey does not give an accurate picture of the reality. It might be true that some of the practices of people in India and China are more environmentally sustainable. But that does not make them more environmentally caring - Actually I feel not many actually understand what all these terms even mean.

First of all, I feel that a sample population of 1000 "internet-enabled" citizens in each country is an extremely miniscule sample size to give any meaningful data especially in countries like China and India with more than a billion people each. Second, in developing countries like India and China, people are forced to go in for smaller homes, rely on public transport and save on water & electricity. In these places, demand outstrips supply and hence consumers are forced to make the best use of whatever is available. This should not be compared with places like US and Canada where most people do not know the meaning of the word 'scarcity'.

NGC specifies the following as some environmentally friendly practices -
  1. Live in smaller residences
  2. Prefer green products and own relatively few appliances or expensive electronic devices
  3. Walk, cycle, or use public transportation, and choose to live close to their most common destination

Do Indians do all these by choice? They have no other choice.

  1. In most areas, housing is in great demand. The real estate sales and rental costs are so high and there are millions of people competing to grab every suqare feet of available space. We simply can't afford to have huge expansive houses.
  2. Same is the case of water and electricity. The majority of the population will have memories of runnig behind tanker lorries or standing in line at the water pump to get a few pots of water.Most states face an energy shortage and there are wide fluctuations in the power supply. so, we have to make th most of what is available.
  3. Similarly, the roads are all clogged and we've not yet reached a stage where each individual can afford their own vehicle. But it remains one of the ultimate aims of the majority.

Now compare this with the scenario in US and Canada. The results for this country are probably more accurate. In most cases, they do not have any resource crunch. Lots and lots of land is available to serve a comparatively small population. There is no problem of water or electricity. All commodities are available in plenty. They have these huge warehouse style supermarkets that usually sell items in bulk. It is very very difficult to find a store that would sell a single pen or a single A-4 size paper. You have to buy a box of pens and a whole bundle of paper. So, if I'm going to have 10 pens lying around the house while I just need one, why am I going to really bother saving them all properly? People really do not see the need to save on anything.

Now, in the recent years, the Indian economy is booming and the country has a huge middle class population. The result - more and more people are opting for personal transport like cars & bikes, buying expensive air-conditioners, video/audio systems etc. I don't see any environmentally caring practices among this rising population. how many people actually care or even know about source segregation? How many care about the dumping of the untreated sewage and garbage in the Pallikaranai marshland in Chennai which continues despite the area being declared as a protected wetland. How many even understand the value of the marshland? Most people just view it as wasteland fit to be filled and built upon.

What is needed is a mass environmental educational program. It should start right from the cradle. Children should be taught to care for their environment and make it a part of their lifestyle, not something that is done outside the everyday life. Above all, a major improvement in the livelihood of the common man is needed in the developing countries. Only if they are economically and socially secure, are they going to think about caring for the environment.

A full report of NGC's greendex survey is available

Saturday, April 19, 2008

Mile Sur Mera Tumhara

Came across this video in youtube. Reminded me of the good old 'Doordarshan' days. :)

I was small boy when this song used to be played every now and then on TV. I always used to stop a few minutes to watch this. Even now I don't understand the actual lyrics of the song - I'm just bi-lingual and the song has so many languages in it. But I get the concept - underlying tone.

This is a wonderful composition and anytime I hear this, I get goosebumps.

Thinking about those good old days now - they appear to be from a long gone era - seem so far away both chronologically and geographically. Everything around me now is so different from those bygone days.

I'm just 25 and I'm feeling this way. I can't imagine how our grandparents must feel. My grandpa was born when India still had 19 more years of British rule. Think of the changes that he must have seen - he used to recall the days when 1kg of a vegetable used to 1 or 2 annas. Now think of the things he's seeing now- He's able to see me and talk to me sitting here on the other side of the globe through a web cam .I'm sure my generation is going to see even more drastic changes.

If only I can collect all my thoughts in a pensive (Harry Potter terminology :) ) for future recollection !!!!!!

Wednesday, April 16, 2008

Recession ??? or not ??? ...

For quite sometime, there has been talks about a recession in the economy. There are varied opinions among the economists on whether the country has already entered a period of recession or not. The federal reserve bank of US is talking about a big slowdown in growth, increasing inflation, rising energy bill and an increasingly costlier war in the middle-east. The sub-prime housing crisis that broke out last year had an adverse effect on the global markets including India.

There's an interview with Dr Shanto Ghosh, Principal Economist, Deloitte Haskins & Sells, Bangalore, posted in 'The Hindu' on the effect of the US recession on our economy. http://www.hindu.com/thehindu/holnus/006200804170321.htm

He talks about various investors are going to look at investing dollars in other world economies including India. If there is an increase in the inflow of dollars into India, it is going to strengthen the rupee which in turn would affect the export oriented sectors. This would also bring about an increase in the inflation increasing the price of essential commodities.

Finally he talks about the effect of this development on the outsourcing industry which caught my attention. These are the things that I've been asking for a few months now - What's our future? How secure are we?

"The second, and a more direct, linkage is with respect to the services sector. Corporate profit outlook in the US is bleak. In the face of a recession, we should expect companies to announce postponement in their capital expenditures as well as information technology budgets.
The fact that the political climate in the US is currently biased against the outsourcing of jobs from the US will have a direct bearing on the amount of dollars that are likely to flow into India as payment for the outsourced jobs. This is again a negative stimulus for the service sector which has been the engine of growth for India over the past few years. "

Aren’t some people arguing that the pressure to retain margins will actually result in a higher amount of outsourcing from the US to countries such as India?
"There is a subtle fallacy in that argument. A recession is characterised by higher levels of unemployment. Moreover, it is a politically sensitive issue. How likely is it that, while joblessness and job cuts attract media attention, a US company will announce further job cuts and start outsourcing jobs outside the country? In my humble opinion, such speculations are nothing but wishful thinking."

I can't say if his words are entirely true. There are lots of differing opinion around. but the general consensus is that there will be a slowdown. As one of my manager put it, "We don't see any immediate effect (at least in our company, in our account). Business as usual will go on. Existing systems need to be maintained. But investments in new ventures, upgrades etc --- not sure.".

So far,the IT biggies have insisted that it is business as usual. They still seem to continue hiring new people. They're just talking about moving up the value chain, hiring quality talent and increasing productivity. Let's hope the industry weathers the storm. But at least in the immediate future, I feel that the big hikes and incentives will reduce, if not completely eliminated.

Saturday, April 12, 2008

Reservations... Creamy layers ...

The supreme court has landed another 'landmark' judgment - one that's going to make it more difficult for us to land seats in some of the most prestigious institutions of the country; Ones that kids from our place aspire to, right from the day they join L.K.G.

The supreme court has upheld the validity of the providing 27% reservation to the OBCs in central institutions, IITs and IIMs. Looking at the verdict, the apex court seems to have tried to minimize the damage while at the same time giving some advantages to the OBCs. Few measures towards that end seem to be
  1. Exclusion of the creamy layers from the OBC category. The creamy layer definition is quite exhaustive. It's available here: http://www.hindu.com/2008/04/11/stories/2008041159981200.htm
  2. Directive to review the list of OBCs every 5 years.
  3. Fill up any vacant seats under the OBC quota with candidates from general categories.
I'm not totally against reservations. There are millions of people in our country who cannot even afford a day's meal and it is just not fair to expect their children to compete against the rest of the country and fight for their education. But what bothers me is the manner in which it is being implemented.

Already most of the seats in the state institutions are filled up the candidates under the OBC, SC, ST categories. The central institutions, IITs and IIMs were one of the last places where merit really mattered . Now that has also been removed. Now our kids have to work even harder, compete even more fiercely, battle it out over marks up to 5 decimal places and at the end of the day endure seeing someone with much lower marks getting ahead. Already we see that most people in our community concentrate on nothing but studies. Our children are already over-worked and are mentally and physically stressed out.

The IIMs have declared that the total number of seats will be increased by 54% by 2010, higher than the reservation rate, so that the number under the general quotas are not reduced. That is a welcome move. I hope the other institutions also follow this.

If an OBC candidate is well-prepared and scores well, he/she fills up the general category. If not, still no problem for them - there's always the OBC quota. We, on the other hand will not be able to get in even if we get good marks. We have to be exceedingly brilliant and grab the spots available. Any candidate from the OBC category should first be filled under the OBC quota. Only if the quota there gets filled, should they be allowed to come into the general category. That will at least prevent the scenario where they fill up all the places - The exclusion of creamy layers (I really like this idea) should mitigate this situation a bit. But again, the implementation of that clause worries me. Already all the parties are unhappy about excluding the creamy layer - lest they alienate potential voters. And people will find all ways to go around this. There will many changes to the supreme court definition of the creamy layers.

Somehow over the years, it has been made a bad thing to speak against such reservations. So no one wants to voice against this, fearing that they'll labeled anti-Indian, anti-development, communal and so on. So, these things keep on increasing.

I don't know what's going to be outcome of the so called review of OBC list every 5 years. While it sounds good coming from the mouth of the apex court, in reality it will only lead to more and more communities being included in the list.

Now some parties have started urging the center to extend these reservations to private institutions and private jobs. That is the most horrible thing to do. That is an intrusion into the private freedom of individuals and organizations. I hope this is prevented and we have the choice to participate in a fair competition somewhere. If this goes on, we'll one day be waiting outside Saravana Bhavan waiting for a table under the general quota.

Saturday, April 05, 2008

YNM - insult

After a long time, I went to a tamil movie today - and regretted it. I was not looking out for a blockbuster or a superb award winnig movie, but just a time-pass. Yet I was disappointed, angry and insulted.

The movie I went to - "Yaaradi Nee mohini" starring danush and Nayantara. Screenplayed by Selvaraghavan and music composed by yuvan, the movie sounded Ok.

The first half was hilarious by virtue of being extremely silly. It is so silly that it is almost an insult to IT professionals. Danush is roaming around without a job. He sees Nayantara on the road, follows her and decides to get a job in the company where she works - "Software Solutions Inc.". He scrapes through the written test (which nayantara later claims she helped pass) and goes through the GD. It is one of the most stupidest GD I've ever seen. And Danush especially says he's not fluent in english and is asked to speak in tamizh. And finally the personal interview - The first question is "What is a foreign key?" followed by "what is multi-threading". He gets ready to leave the place not knowing the answers, but then sees Nayantara and starts answering the questions. I didn't know programmng was so easy !!!! Then starts his work. Right on the first day, he is scolded and insulted by Nayantara and becomes dejected. He is not able to code anything and in his frustration types something random and all of a sudden a siren like sound blares through the hall and all monitors go haywire. Our hero danush has "crashed" the system. And there comes the boss and blasts Nayantara right there in front of everybody for allowing Danush, a trainee to work on the critical project to be delivered in two days. He just throws the project docs in her face.This makes danush feel so bad and he spends the entire night working on the code. Whenever he is stumped, he thinks of Nayantara and starts working harder. And after much hard work the code is completed and Lo and behold !!!there is a bright blue box flashing on the screen that says "Code Activiated". And just like that he is selected to go to Australia on a project assignment. My god !!! If only things were that simple

Now the second half. This is one of the most insulting load of rubbish I've ever seen. Danush's father dies and his friend Karthik (mirchi suchi's hubby) takes him to his hometown for a change of mood. Incidentally Nayantara is Karthik's athai ponnu and they plan to get married. Apparently Karthik and Nayantara are from a brahmin family and had come to city against their grandfather's wishes to pursue their careers. Now the story moves into the brahmin household in the village.
1. Danush goes and sits on an oonjal in the house and Karthik's grandmother (sukumari) comes rushing and beats him with her walking stick. Apparently she is horrified that a guy from some other caste has desecrated the oonjal and washes it off. Karthik then explains that she is slightly out of her mind. Atleast that explains it.
2. Danush then goes to take bath. He is asked to bath in the open space (mitham) of the house where he finds Karthik bathing with a komanam (the small cloth used as a brief). He's shocked and Karthik explain that to be the way they do in that household.
3. Then the next day, Danush is made to get up very early and gather along with the rest of Karthik's family where the grandfather recites a slokha and everyone is made to drink arugampul juice and made to walk for some time to ensure free excretion.
4. Then one by one all the mamas in the household start farting. Danush is very uncomfortable and disgusted.

This was the end of the patience for me and my room-mate and we just came out of the theatre. My god ! It was just plain horrifying. What did they think? They've made a complete mockery of Brahmins. None of what is shown is even true in the remotest sense and these things can be shown of anyone. Why choose a community? Because they're so damn sure that none of us would object. Obviously this can't be done with anybody else. There would be mass demostrations and
protests. Jodha Akbar is being opposed in the north just because of a marriage between two religons and some supposed historical mistake. Hordes of movies and books have been opposed and even successfully banned. Even harry potter was opposed. But everyone would have a hearty laugh at this movie. This is an absolutely disgusting scenario.

This movie is an insult in both halves - insult to IT professionals by the silliness and stupidity of the first half and to the Brahmins by the mocking comedy in the second half.

Monday, March 24, 2008

600 km to vote !!!!

Bhutan is a small insignificant country nestling in the eastern arms of the Himalayas and any event there does not capture the world attention. The current political changes happening there is no exception. Bhutan is holding its first ever general elections marking a transition from an absolute monarchy to a constitutional monarchy.
While this is insignificant for the rest of the world, it seems to be an event of great importance to the Bhutanese. They seem to be very enthusiastic about participating in this "historic" event. Their enthusiasm is perfectly captured by this news article that talks about how a 65-year old woman made a 600 km long journey by foot just to cast her vote.
Apparently she suffers from motion sickness and does not prefer travelling by car (which she has done only one before in her life). So, she undertook the 600 km journey to her hometown by foot. She walked for 14 days just to cast her vote. People all over the country have travelled to the different corners of their rugged & mountainous country to participate in this historic exercise.
Bhutan is a very small country that thrives on subsistence agriculture, cottage industries, hadicrafts and such. It has a very low per capita income of around US$ 1,321. In spite of this, it is supposed to have one of the happiest populace. They've used a term called "Gross National Happiness" to demonstrate that the population is infact much more happier than the "advanced" western nations and have emphasized that happiness need not be directly proprotional to the western notion of "development".
Compare the enthusiasm of the Bhutanese to the situation in its gaint neighbour. Most of us do want to walk to the polling booth in the next street and stand in a line to cast our vote. Instead, we ramble about our lack of faith in the democratic machinery and the insignificance of our single vote. Of course, this is the first time Bhutanese are tasting democracy. Let's hope that their faith in the new institution is reinforced and they continue to be happy and prosperous.

Saturday, March 22, 2008

Beautiful Moon

I was bored at home yesterday and was fiddling with my camera. The moon was shining brightly outside. I switched off all the lights at home and tried to take a few photos using the manual controls in my cam. Not too great, but felt they're nice.

Peeping out from behind a chimney :)

The bright shining disc radiating brilliance

The perfect disc !!!! The chimneys and wires are faintly visible

Finally, view through our blinds :)

Guess I'm totally jobless :):):)

Sunday, March 16, 2008

Fresh 'n' Colourful

I made a sort of a vegetable salad today for lunch. The sight of all the different vegetables inspired me to take these photographs. Felt they've come out pretty well.

The main ingredients

Beautiful tomatoes - Liked both photos. So here they are.

Now, some greens

Finally, the finished product

Saturday, March 15, 2008

Animal welfare vs conservation

This is a environment conservationist's main question. Where do we draw the line between conservation and over-protection ?With increased human activities, the ecosystems of this world are rapidly deteriorating. This has also given rise to various conservation programs around the world trying to save this planet. In our zeal to preserve the environment, we sometimes also try to stop the natural forces of change that has been responsible for life in this planet. There is always a debate among the environmentalists on this.

One good case is the conservation effort of South Chinese tigers. There are very few tigers in the wild. There are few others that have been bred in captivity. Now they're making an effort to teach these captive tigers, the basics of hunting in the wild. For this, these tigers have been loose on a ranch and have been allowed to hunt blesbok, a kind of antelope. Now other conservationists have objected to this saying that this is cruel to the blesbok. They say that it is not acceptable they are deliberately made the hunted in a simulated environment.


Now what is right and what is wrong here?
  • Can the tigers be kept in captivity all through their lives? This will totally remove the tiger population from the wild. Or can we just release the tigers into the wild? They do not have the instinct to hunt as they're bred in captivity. So, they cannot survive and even if they do, they cannot pass on the hunting instincts to their offspring.
  • Is it right to introduce the blesbok into the controlled habitat of these tigers? They may not have some of the advantages that they have in the wild. So their chance of evading predator becomes slim.

There are some questions where there are no Black/white answers? There are only shades of Grey.

Friday, March 14, 2008

World's worst airports

This is a time of huge infrastructural advances in India. I was reading about the inaugaration of the new greenfield airport in Hyderabad. The photos of the airport were quite impressive. The Bangalore airport is also due to open soon. These led me to think of the fate of our own Chennai airport. It has a very old building totally out of touch with the modernity and class of its peers around the world. It is already stretched to the limit and there are frequent build-up of passengers leading to chaotic scenes outside the terminal. The scene inside the terminal is not great either. The decoration is drab and the facilities are sparse. There are very few shop, just a couple of food stalls selling things like samosas and cakes and that too are way over-priced. We've been waiting for years for a new airport in chennai, but the plan has not progressed beyond the paper. Nowadays, Chennai is lagging far behind other Indian cities in terms of infrastructure development. The only things the government is keen on 'announcing' are the mini-flyovers.

Now this line of thought about the state of Chennai airport made me google for the world's worst airport. I came across this article where a number of foreign correspondents share their thoughts on the worst airports of the world.

A lot many of them have listed the delhi airport as one of the worst ones. But there are supposedly "world-class" ones in this list - Heathrow, Paris, Madrid etc. It all depends on the views and experiences of the foreign correspondents. Makes an interesting read :)

Monday, March 10, 2008

This 'Elephant' can dance

The 80s and the 90s were the decades of the Asian tigers (Korea, Taiwan, Hongkong & Singapore). The world then saw the rise of the Chinese dragon which is still continuing to sway gracefully and now the great Indian elephant has finally arrived on stage.

This is the often repeated story of the rise of the two Asian giants. But it is still good to read, that too in "Time" :) (as opposed to reading our own accounts in the Indian media)

We still have an extremely long way to go and we will go all the way to the top.

On a different note, I read this article about India's action (or rather the lack of it) towards the Myanmar Junta. We have shifted our foreign policy from one of friendship to pro-democracy forces to a relationship with the military junta. Like so many other rising powers, we've also become opportunists. Myanmar has crucial natural gas deposits which are very valuable to a power-hungry country like us. We also need the co-operation of the Myanmar government to tackle the insurgencies in the North-east. In situations like these, it is quite difficult to say what is right and what is not. Regardless of what actually goes on , this article stings. :(
And this article sharply criticises what the author calls India's "bumbling" foreign policy. Here's an extract,
"For those who have been following India's foreign policy, India's bumbling is not surprising. The nation has long clamored for a place on the international high table, citing its democratic traditions, size, and strategic geopolitical importance. In reality, however, its foreign policy is still immature. The problem of Burma (renamed Myanmar by the junta) has suddenly thrust an unprepared India into the field along with the professionals. "
"India's time—and credibility—may be running out. Meenakshi Ganguly, top South Asia researcher for Human Rights Watch, worries that if India does not take the initiative with Burma now, it could lose its sheen as a champion of freedom and democracy in Asia."