Monday, July 12, 2010

Seeing is believing

Recently stumbled across this spectacular series of photographs... Just wanna share with you all.. 
Yosemite National Park, California , USA

This park was gazetted as a national park in 1890. It is world famous for its rugged terrain, waterfall and century-old pine trees. It covers 1200 sq km and the "fire" waterfall of El Capitan is one of the most spectacular of all scenery.
The spectacular view of the waterfall is created by the reflectionof sunlight hitting the falling water at a specific angle. This rare sight can only be seen at  a 2-week period towards the end of Feburary. To photograph this rare event, photographers would often have to wait and endure years of patience in order to capture them. The reason is because its appearance depend on a few natural phenomenons occuring at the same time and luck.
1st, Is the formation of the waterfall - The water is formed by the melting of snow and ice at the top of the mountain. It melts between the month of December and January and by the end of February there might not have much snow left to melt.
2nd, is the specific angle of the sunray hitting the falling water - The sun's position must be exactly at a particular spot in the sky. This occur only in the month of February and at the short hours of dusk. If it is a day full of clouds or something blocking the sun, you can only take pictures of your own sorry faces on the waterfall. It coincides with the fact that the weather in the National Park at that time of the year is often volatile and unpredictable. It compounds to the difficulty of getting these pictures.

Someone did !!! And we all get to see it !!!



Wednesday, June 2, 2010

Allah and Trishul


Don't these images look similar? Both purport to represent two diametrically opposite communities that seems to be at war always....

Yes the first represents Allah in Arabic while the second is the symbol of Lord Shiva in Hinduism...
Amazing, isn't it? More the things change, more they remain the same...

God is great and is now wincing at our fight in His name...

Monday, May 31, 2010

America's most corrupt capitalists

Found the story in the above link really worth sharing with all of you.. To really understand the fact that "Politicians are the same; whichever part of the world they live in" and more importantly that Man, or atleast the majority of them, is/are inherently evil and lazy..

Perhaps you may be differ.. But at least that is how I conclude...

Friday, May 21, 2010

Abysmal(!!!!) Vehicle Penetration

There was a recent newspaper report lamenting about abysmally low per capita vehicle penetration at 12 per 1000 people as compared to 765 for US, 426 for UK, 124 for Russia and even Brazil at 81. Car-makers are grinning the huge opportunity of untapped vehicle market.

With our cities already choking with traffic even with this abysmally low vehicle penetration I shudder to think how clogged our roads would be even with Brazil like penetration of 81 per 1000, a nearly seven fold increase from the current levels. Can you imagine? It is not as if there is huge potential available for road expansion as any such expansion will necessarily displace the livelihood of the millions. Cities practically have no space for pedestrians as roads are filled to the brim with vehicles virtually till the doorstep of houses and shops at the edge.

Is it really practicable and prudent to encourage automobile expansion while the automatic choice should be expansion of public transport or mass transport. It is for the government to take lead and innovate initiatives in this segment to discourage private transport and encourage its public counterpart with a scheme of incentives and dis-incentives. For example, levying a road clog cess on larger private vehicles like car, van, etc annually and utilise the revenue to improve the quality of roads and streamline bus fleet. Further, the government should create a complementary infrastructure of road and rail traffic system in all the major cities on a war-footing.

I for one staunchly desisted from using private transport for the past six years despite struggling in crowded buses and interminable waits at bus stops. But I could take it no longer as public transport showed no signs of improvement. Hence I bit the forbidden fruit of my private Bike some 5 months back. If a die-hard public transport fan like me choose to breach the Laxman rekha, you can forgive the common man for choosing to put a premium on his comfort and time at the cost of larger good.

O all ye netas and IASes straddling the power corridors!! When will you wake up and look at things from a futuristic scenario?? Just think about how your off springs will suffer from the overflowing traffic 10,15 years hence... Can't you take it up at least for their sake?

Thursday, April 29, 2010

Why is TV hypnotizing??

In recent times, there has been an increase in the circulation of mails weeping about how much of our personal space is encroached by Television. In fact, there is one heart-rending essay purported to have been written by a child wishing to be a Television so that they can get undivided attention of his/her family members. One can easily relate oneself to frantic and often violent fights that happen in households over possession of TV remote as if it is ancient Somras guaranteed to bestow immortality on its purveyors or a $100 million lottery ticket whose number has just appeared in television as the lucky draw ticket.

One tends to think why is TV such omnipotent? How can it hypnotise millions of otherwise sane individuals to witness mediocre soaps and sporting contests, almost endlessly?

Television transports the spectator to an almost unreal world, so out of tune with his mundane routine, in to a world where he/she has no control over the happenings. It gives him/her an avenue for escapism, to flee from everyday problems and issues at least for a short period of time and indulge himself. It caters to his/her sub-conscious desires and aspirations – to fly and perform stunts like a super-man, to be outstanding sportsmen, to be like omni-lovable Casanovas and Cleopatras on screen, to be someone or something which they had always secretly wished but could not muster enough courage or will to do so for whatever reasons.

On another front, Television does not make value judgements on the people around, does not expect them to change for its sake mandatorily though people may change their routine out of their own sweet-will, and tells its own stories when you want to and not when they wish to. So much better than people, huh..

Every tail has its own head. Every winter has its own spring. Duality is the essence of life and in fact the universe.

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

The Menace that is Maoism

My Way or High Way:
This seems to be the motto of all revolutionaries.. All revolutionaries start under the garb of public interest. As they grow in stature n power, power intoxicates them and gives them an omni-potent allure. They tend to get autocratic, callous and indifferent to very people they started out to fight for. The complacency breeded by their sense of power will ultimately prove their undoing. Just look at LTTE for example.

But once the movement unravels, one would discover, the regions that were under their swamp would be many a mile behind the rest of the world on all parameters with future of millions at stake. This would only breed further discontent, more armed struggle and a vicious cycle of underdevelopment.

A look at the history would reveal that a communist land was never a utopia but more of a dystopia where everything was reduced to Lowest Common Denominator and innovation was severely hampered.

So how to get out of this vicious cycle, how to avoid slidding deeper into the morass that is Naxal invasion..

Tackling Maoists:
Create an elite force to tackle the Maoists, selecting their cadre, predominantly from locals aware of d terrain.
Train them mentally (brain-wash, if you can call it as such) against Maoist ideals to remove the scourge that is Maoism by their developmental work. Allocate sufficient funds for this elite force to engage in developmental work as well apart from military offensives.
Allow this mentally trained individuals to intrude as common men into the midst of Maoists/Naxals, which can be a useful means to strategise operations against them.
Indulge in your power of propaganda. Ensure supply of power to the tribal areas and distribute televisions to all free (seek the TN govt's help in ensuring the success of this endeavor). Complement your good work at the ground with powerful propaganda over TV.

"Communism in Russia is not eliminated by military offensives. It is the media propaganda showcasing the merits of free society, that did the trick."

Don't invade and conquer people's lands and houses; Invade their minds, conquer them.

A day for eliminating Maoists will not be far.

Marxism, Maoism, and Utopianism: Eight Essays

Tuesday, April 6, 2010

New Discoveries of IPL 2010

Kings 11 Punjab is the new KKR.
Sangakkara is the new McCullum.
Gambhir is the new Sehwag.
MS Gony is the new Agarkar.
A Morkel is the new Irfan Pathan.
RP Singh is the new Munaf Patel.
Brett Lee is the new Akhtar.
Yuvraj is the new Ganguly.
Shilpa Shetty is the new Preity Zinta

Lalit Modi is the new Lalit Modi..

Saturday, April 3, 2010

Mayavati's Masterstroke again

Mayawati government in Uttar Pradesh on Friday decided to start recruitment for setting up a police force to guard parks and memorials for Dalit icons without waiting for Governor B L Joshi's nod for a bill and an ordinance for the same purpose.

There she goes in probably the only instance where a State Govt takes security issues quite seriously without any prodding from the Union Home Minister. Here I am reminded of a scene from Tamil, historical spoof movie named "Imsai Arasan (Troublesome king) 23rd Pulikesi" played by a leading Tamil comedian Vadivelu. The protagonist was seen to remark to his minister, "History is important, Mr.Minister". The setting of the scene goes as:
The lead actor, who is also the king, poses for a self-portrait, with his entire buffalo-like obese torso covered in white cloth. Near him, a man with a taut, toned body that would rival WWF veterans to shame stands with his face covered with White cloth. The artist draws the physique of the wrestler and over it the face of the king. When the minister, fascinated by the proceedings, expresses his surprise, the king dishes out his prophetic words of wisdom.

"History is very important, my dumb minister. How will the fools coming 100 years after my death know who I am. I'll leave this portrait as legacy for them to know who I am and how I lived. How could they ever know I've a lousy body."

Mayavati also seems to have been caught on by the history bug and wants to etch her name in the history. A classic case of misplaced priorities, especially in a backward state like Uttar Pradesh.

Or have I committed a sacrilege of denigrating a Dalit icon, Selfless Beacon of the oppressed by writing this piece! How bad of me to not even be able to stand a self-respecting oppressed woman etching her name in the banals of history. Oh sorry, I mean annals of history. I leave it to your better judgement as to who deserve the security more; Real men/women in flesh and blood, but who are anyway gonna die in 50 years, mired in poverty and diseases or the statues and symbols of Dalit identity and self-respect that is gonna proclaim to the posterity about a Supreme, Dalit leader who lorded over the masses in the Hindi heartland. The choice is obvious, really (i.e. the choice of Ms. Mayavati) unless you are insane, development-oriented person like me. Development can really wait, but not the Dalit glory.!!

God save the Queen and her people from her!! I am sorry for you people of Uttar Pradesh, you poor people certainly deserve a better leader.

Thursday, April 1, 2010

Why do Auto drivers hate meters?

Happened to read a really insightful article on problems faced by auto drivers in Delhi. The situation is really no different in other Indian cities.

Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Clamour for China peg - Need or Greed??

Whenever there is a sustained rupee appreciation against dollar, exporters would quickly join together and clamour for govt intervention and lobby for currency peg as in case of China. Before countering or acceding to their claim, it is necessary to analyse whether such a peg is feasible and if yes, whether such a peg is essential in Indian conditions. It would be educative to find out why the currency peg is being adopted in China.

It is in fact true that a volatile currency will adversely impact the businesses that buy from/sell to foreign entrepreneurs. But the onus is on part of entrepreneurs to evolve mechanisms to mitigate their exposures through derivative instruments and not to lobby the government to intervene and peg the currency. The recent introduction of exchange traded currency derivative products by RBI is a right step in assisting the exporters to hedge their positions against currency volatilities. It is time for entrepreneurs to evolve rather than relying on spoon feed from the government.

China is able to implement and continue with its currency peg withstanding foreign pressure because of its authoritarian governance structure and powerful economic clout. India, with its weak resource base and democratic set-up will find it difficult, first to implement currency peg and then to sustain it. It is also not desirable, not to allow currency appreciation, in a chronic trade deficit country like India where currency appreciation, which narrows the deficit in real terms, should in fact be actively encouraged. It is also curious to know that calls for currency depreciation is louder from industries with significant lobbying power like Software companies rather than textile and leather industries.

Hence, it makes more sense for the government to actively encourage exporters and importers to use hedging mechanisms to mitigate loss rather than getting back to regulated regime of 80s. Having moved to a market economy, short-term currency fluctuations should be accepted by entrepreneurs as part of business.

Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Bombay Bomber

Watching KKR's defeat against double D (As Danny Morrison used to call Delhi Daredevils) last night reminded me of a long forgotten hero. A tall, athletic fast bowler (in fact the fastest in his country of 130k trundlers) who is no mug with the willow. He was the quickest to 50 ODI wickets and scored the fastest ODI fifty for his country. But what happened after those initial feats is the stuff of legend.

"Reincarnation of Kapil Dev", "Bombay Botham", "Imran and Hadlee rolled into one". "Sachin with the bat and Srinath with the ball"(his mindless critics ignorantly blabber the reverse as true). Adjectives abound. Yes you guessed it. We are talking about one and only "Ajit Bhalchandra Agarkar".

Neighbour's pride and Owner's envy. He was already a legend with his 5 ducks in a row and several match-winning bowling performances. Who cares if those bowling performances has only resulted in wins for our opponents. His cult only seem to grow further as he ventures into new vistas. With his IPL exploits, he has earned new adjectives "Kolkata Klusener", "Marathi Morkel". He is the X factor KKR missed in their first two matches en route to their uncharacteristically insipid performance of two wins in two matches. After a hat-trick of losses against the Chennai, Mumbai and Double R, KKR realised who they are missing.

In fact Sourav Ganguly was so impressed with our hero that he argued with SRK to get the team name changed to AAR after he inspired his team to a sensational win against the table toppers from the bottom - KXIP with his two-wicket burst at the top. Sanity returned in the next match against Delhi last night when AAR's assortment of lollipops and full tosses was flayed to all parts of the ground by marauding Warner.

With the chase getting increasingly tougher for KKR, the novice Angelo Matthews was bowled by an excellent yorker. My brother was exclaiming that this is the end of the chase. Sorry bro, you are wrong, no chase is over until the experienced campaigner AAR is done with. I was cheering at my highest decibel much to the surprise of my grandma at the mere sight of my hero stepping into Kotla wielding the bat with the swagger of Sir Viv. When KKR was needing 7o runs in 4 overs, commentators were seen to be exclaiming that they need nothing short of a miracle innings of the sort played by Bhajji 2 nights back. Critics might say such comments are inane, just to infuse some life into a zombie match. As always, critics are wrong. Commentators know what they are talking about, they know there is still one man left in KKR who can play such an innings. Saha and Agarkar were the ones at the crease and I am not referring to the poor Saha who is resigned to play second fiddle.

Live ball-by-ball commentary posted by Cricinfo would illustrate the heroics of AAR better:

Bhatia to Agarkar, FOUR, Bhatia bowls a low ball outside off, Agarkar swings and gets a bottom edge through Karthik's legs for four
Bhatia to Agarkar, no run, Agarkar swings again and this time he doesn't place it between Karthik's legs, he misses it completely

What placement!! What cunning!!!

Oh my dear!! How much India is missing you..!!! Hope Dhoni and Kris Shrikant is watching this blog.
My cousin used to say he is the only batsman who can clear the ropes with a cunningly edged shot since shots off the middle of his bat could only fetch him a boundary. Keep going Ajit!! Long may live your lore!!!

Monday, March 29, 2010

Religion kills and so do drugs!!!

I recently visited a website that is supposed to show live streaming of international cricket matches. It also contained a window for visitors to chat and discuss about the live match.

A cursory look at the chat room revealed plenty of hate mails by people of various nationalities poking fun at other nations/religions with such a hatred and viciousness that you can be forgiven to have forgotten that you have stumbled upon a website glorifying religious fanaticism.

The discussion gave roots to a whirl of thoughts about the usefulness of the religion. If the so-called educated elite possessing access to internet can have such dangerous notions, one wonders where the fault lies - Is it with the religion or with the education? Has religion outlived its utility? Perhaps, should we start thinking of some other mechanism to influence people's behaviour - a Big Brother sort of myth?

Isn't it time to include "Religious Education" in our education curriculum to impart basic understanding of major world religions in young minds on the lines of Sex education?

Its quite difficult to believe that God would lay down a plethora of strict rules and regulations for people (an omni-potent regulator) to follow, punishing even small deviations with severe ordainment. Its even harder to understand a religion's stance that non-adherents shall cease to exist. Do they actually say that? Again no clear answers for religious texts written in ancient language give rise to varied interpretations.

History has been replete with countless instances of men killing each other in the name of religion - Crusades, 100 year war, Jewish persecution, Christian-Muslim wars in many European, Asian countries - Armenia, Albania, Bosnia-Serbia, India-Pakistan, Srilankan crisis, etc and the list is endless. If something can kill people, its bad. Tobacco kill; Alcohol kills; Drugs kill; And so do religions. We have made Tobacco, Alcohol and Drugs illegal.. Should we actually start to get our thoughts rolling on whether we have to illegalise Religion as such?