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Friday, December 30, 2011

5 Birds in the Tree !!

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Question - There are 5 birds in a tree. A hunter shoots 2 of them dead. How many birds are left?

 According to Scientists - all 5, they all were still part of the planet earth. 

According to Perfectionists - depends on what time you are asking the question, if the 2 shot birds were falling while the other 3 have not taken off yet, only 2 in sky and rest 3 still in/on tree. A few seconds later all 5 could be found floating in the sky. Few more seconds later 2 of them were hugging mother earth and 3 alive were flying in the sky now! A few moments later the 3 surviving birds, lands again on the earth.

According to our smart journalists, reporting Live- Out of two birds who were shot, one was touched by Rajnikant once not very long ago. She managed to dupe the hunter and the bullet. In order to save her life, she faked her fall from the tree. She gets up happily and flies again. But our hunter was a master artist too. He was waiting patiently behind the tree. He shoots back again....

NOW tell me how many left?

The answer is 2. Ff the 3 birds who were not shot at earlier, one was atheist, she couldn't believe she survived and headed straight to bar for a drink. The other two landed in a farm few yards away. One of them was jumping in happiness while the other was basking under the sun, enjoying her luck. Back to under the Tree, the Rajini bird was surprised but composed. She duped the bullet once again (tough nut). The raging bullet went past the Rajini bird and hit the jumping bird while she was still in air. She collapsed straight on the other one who was taking sun bath beneath her. Both were hospitalized but as per our reliable confidential sources news both were declared dead a few minutes ago.

The hunter, aka Sulman Khan has been taken into custody. The atheist bird has joined Hare Rama society in Goa while the Rajini bird will be flying to Vegas to teach birds of Chuck Norris next year.

Sunday, December 25, 2011

India's Castles in the Air !!

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We the people of India and the sate of India has managed to sail through the 2007-09 recession. However I am slightly skeptical that it happened because of fool proof planning of the Central government or just by chance. Whatever may be the case, the Central government has not left any opportunity to pat its own back in public time and again. I hope they will maintain their stance and will take all the credit for economic, financial crisis which I tend to believe is imminent now, unfortunately though.

Interest rates have been going up, inflation, real estate prices have been going up as well. In past 5-7 years governments have announced several plans to boost infrastructure but except few malls and housing complexes here and there, randomly out of nowhere, not much has been achieved. Corruption has crippled the pace of growth and has eaten away a huge chunk of funds spent on infrastructure projects.

We, the hardworking  people of India have been toiling hard, day and night, working despite all odds, lack of resources and sometimes despite lack of opportunities.

The western economies, be it US, Canada, UK or Italy do not appear to be recovering from the recession anytime soon. To save the face and then government, almost all the political parties and governments have been recklessly approving bailout packages on after the other. Only couple of people have been symbolically caught to give the message to the masses, that its not Wall Street but White House who's In-charge of the situation. But ironically neither of them want to take the blame for what happened.

The Indian IT industry which heavily relied in Outsourcing work has seen decline in top-line and bottom-line, slowly and steadily. Weak currency, which traditionally have been good news for the IT and outsourcing industry is becoming a bad news, slowly and steadily. Importers are already feeling the pinch and if go by analysts, the currency will remain under pressure for next couple of quarters, which means the pinch will hurt bad this time around.

The Indian stock markets have not done well in 2011 and bond yields are on rise. The corruption is on rise as well and almost all the incumbent governments at state and center are not able to give away their chair, their stone aged politics under the current circumstances.

New year is around the corner and its better we start preparing for unforeseeable circumstances. Couple of more larger then life scams or cracking real estate market will be sufficient enough to bring down the Castles in the Air made out of pack of cards !

So lets cheer up for a while. Enjoy the Christmas Sunday, keep our brick and mortar ready and be prepared to go out in the sun and the rain to mend our house which we have built with so much of love, passion and hard-work over the years.

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

The Lokpal Kolaveri !

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Unfortunately I am not much surprised to see the Government of India behaving yet again like a class 5 student. They dont want to work, play, have fun at the expense of their father and mother, even if the mistake is their's they wont accept, they will spend the whole weekend partying around and only at 11pm on Sunday night they will start doing the homework and will complaint to their mom not to push them for completing the huge homework in 1-2 hours now.

Why does it always happens the same way. What was government doing from August, full 4 months. Why can these discussions, analysis happen well in time. 

I hope, looking at how things went on during 2011, Mr.Nilekani and Ms. A.Roy would like to rethink and revisit their articles, stance and opinion. Anyways, people have long forgotten their irrelevant statement and articles already, which neither contributed positively nor critically or negatively towards the Lokpal debate.

The government used its entire machinery in its totality in past one year so as to make sure that no strong anti-corruption bill is prepared, presented and passed in time. Sonia Gandhi and Manmohan Singh have given speeches in recent past about their commitment to pass a strong Lokpal Bill, but the same people appointed Sharad Pawar about 11 months ago as the head of the committee responsible to prepare a strong anti-corruption bill. Income department was literally used a puppet doll to chase the IAC team. So instead of focusing on collecting Billions Rs. of outstanding Income Tax. In April they assured of August. In August they created a last moment crisis, suggested to make Lokpal a constitutional body and recently out of the blue they suggested to offer reservation to minorities in the Lokpal committee.

Interestingly if one reads and analyze the comments of MPs and Politicians outside the top 10 media savy, post gradute or PhD MPs and Politicians one can start believing what Om Puri once accidentally said out of emotional outburst few months ago.

On a positive note, I find all these political cards being played by Congress a positive development. NCPRI has a strong command over legislature but unfortunately they fail to understand the politics. Despite all their individual and collective brilliance they might not have been able to reach a stage where national debates are happening in great detail at various places across India for more than 6 months.

Now the reason behind my positive outlook despite of all this is the Bittu Singh Syndrome. Over the years I have observed all government officers, politicians using one of these Top 10 excuses over the years. Unfortunately media has not been able to dissect through these over done, stereotypical excuses and present real, in-depth and much needed analysis. Interestingly in the current case, due to tremendous and constant pressure created by team IAC over past One year, government has used and exhausted almost all of these excuses. So despite all this Kolaveri of government, I am sure what bill they might pass things are bound to change significantly in 2012!

So I ask the government why this Lokpal Kolaveri di? 

Monday, November 28, 2011

Middle East Expatriates In Transition !!

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First of all let me confine the scope of current discussion to Gulf Cooperative Council which comprises of Saudi Arabia, UAE, Oman, Kuwait, Qatar and Bahrain. Recently Jordan and Morroco have shown interests in joining GCC. I think that in few years Libya and Egypt too will join the league and GCC will become a economic powerhouse to reckon with.

Infrastructure and Oil and Gas sectors have created enormous job opportunities in this region, bucking the recessionary trend. Tax free salaries, high rise buildings and massive cranes working day and night and the debt crisis are some of the first few things which comes to mind when we talk about Dubai and Middle East in general. Beyond the glossy buildings, massive oil rigs lies some not widely discussed softer issues unique to this region.

Religious freedom is the widely discussed of the issues. Dubai, the most liberalized of the GCC nations has allowed church and temple but in some of the countries practicing your own religion even in privacy of your home can be an offense. Though there may not be any official record of imparting punishment on account of practicing religion, but several stories, incidents are heard when people were deported or were held in prison  for few days

Some raw facts- Recently Qatar government has increased the salaries only of Qataris working in government run companies by 50%-100%. Even before this move it was widely known fact that for a given post, a citizen will be given a much higher salary (30% to 50% high) as compared to a non citizen across all GCC nations.What amuses and sometimes baffles me is a not so officially discussed fact that Western expatriates are paid more as compared to their South Asian counterparts for the same position ! I agree that a $1000 monthly saving will mean a lot to a South Asian in his country of origin and perhaps it wont be considered something significant for a Westerner but that does not justify the implicit racism. As a consequence some unwritten rules are being followed, such as in a certain area only so and so nationals are allowed to stay, live etc.

The expatriate population in Saudi Arabia is close to 30% (8.4 million), whereas in Qatar 1.45 million expats constitutes 89% of the population. Qatar's population has more than doubled post 2006 Asian Games and is expected to double again in the run up to 2022 FIFA World Cup. The population of Emiratis in UAE is close to 11%, i.e 0.9 million, with 8 million expats. The newly constructed residential and commercial buildings in Dubai or Doha can easily accommodate at least two times of the current total population or at least ten times of the current local population. Owing to enormous profits reaped by consistently high crude prices many projects are being announced and will be undertaken in the decade ahead. So all this implies that the region needs expats to execute those projects, to fill on those buildings and multiplexes, in short to keep the region alive, nothing significant. But interestingly none of the GCC countries offer nationality to any foreign nationals, unless specifically approved by some influential member of the royal family.

So, an expat in Middle East will remain expat for ever ! I really dont know how monarchies of all these GCC nations plan to fill in these buildings, malls, restaurants, airports and seaports. On one hand all the Monarchies of GCC have started emphasizing on democracy so as to avoid any anarchy, on the other Socialism is being bred under the shadow of Capitalism, in the name of protectionism. But not everybody who stands to benefit or loose because of protectionism policies can comprehend the subtle difference between racism, socialism and national interest. On one hand GCC nations wants to liberalize, attract talented expatriates from all over the world, following difference religions including atheists and agnostics, on the other they do not seems to be in any hurry to give complete religious or political or even social freedom to them.

Though many cases of human rights violation have been reported in this part of the world, corrective measures were and are being taken from time to time. Although employer's permission is required to leave Qatar or Kuwait or No Objection Certificate is required to change employers within a country, but any reported labor law violations are treated very seriously here and strict actions are taken against employers. So on a piece of paper human rights, labor rights etc seems to be taken well care of.

Comparatively young, small, oil rich GCC nations have been importing thinkers, philosophers, planners and technicians from all over the world to shape their present and future. Can they live without them in near future? Is it possible to artificially implant technical skills within 2-3 years in the local work force of an entire nation? No doubt the money Asian expatriates makes in GCC as compared to their native country is good. General sense of safety and security and labor laws too are practiced religiously here. While a country is most obliged to fulfill the aspirations of its citizens as first priority, but can they simply choose to ignore the expatriates on softer issues such as culture, religion, freedom and politics. Unless the local government addresses these non tangible, human aspects of life, the Expatriates in Middle East will remain in transition.

Sunday, November 06, 2011

Lost & Found !

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I want to get lost
In the middle of a Stadium,
where, nobody has ever played.

I want to be found
Amidst mountains
where, anybody who worked hard
never failed.

I want to get lost
On the top of a cloud
who, across the ocean sailed.

I want to be found
Somewhere in the Desert
Where I need not hide
And yet, cant be found.

I want to get lost
In the bottom of the ocean
from where sea monsters hailed.

I want to be found
On the top of that Coconut tree,
where the morning sun rays strike first
before touching the ground.

Can I find myself
Before getting lost again?
Or am I already lost
waiting to be found?
Can I find my self
Without searching?
Or the day I got lost
Was the day I actually found
Myself for the first time?

Sunday, October 30, 2011

Who the hell laid that Golden Egg ?

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Nobody has an iota of doubt that a lot needs to be done to establish India as a sporting nation at an international level.

The Golden Egg is very rare, so it doesn't Exist !

But, with all due respect, I dont agree with PT Usha's latest comments about advent of Formula 1 in India. She pioneered the cause of Women athletics in India, motivated and trained several young women to dream big despite not much support from government or their own family members. I would completely agree with her if she says that Athelitcs is not gaining the popularity it deserved because the country lacks infrastructure, coaches and constant funding etc. But what's the point in bashing one form of sport which happens to be one of the most popular sport of the world, to promote another.

The Golden Egg fell from the table, so lets kill the Goose !

What has all the T20 cricket bashers gained, the T20 cricket evolved, improved, became more popular, offered opportunity to make money, gain respect to several young cricketers who could never make it to national team, offered employment to 100s of 1000s of people. On contrary I feel, T20 forced teams and coaches to think different, try something new and thus lot of experiments were done, some went successful some not, but ultimately the game evolved. Some cricketers got injured while playing T20, so lets ban T20

The Golden Egg was actually Silver !

Lot of mediocre player get chance to play, perform, learn and earn when a sports become popular. Some remain mediocre and some rise. That's what happens in every walk of life. I dont blame the body shopping IT companies for not pioneering the search engine algorithms. Saina Nehwal is not PT Usha and I don't blame Deepika Padukone for choosing modeling over sport or for that matter Sania Mirza for choosing sport over modelling. The not so famous medium pacer Salil Ankola became a not so famous TV artist, so should BCCI ban TV channels in India now?

  I will Kill your Goose who lays Golden Egg, because I don't have one !

What is the definition of a Sports? Is sports only about physical capabilities? I think Formual 1 like any other sports requires physical fitness, mental stamina, rigorous training, planning, commitment, passion to succeed amidst intense competition. Behind every successful Formula 1 sportsmen is a huge team of 15-30 people which includes highly qualified engineers and psychologists. Not all the successful Formula One world champions were born in rich families. They became rich as a consequence of the success and name they achieved by excelling in their sport. In the countries where Athletics is big sport, the Formula One driver or the NBA player makes more money in general. So ? 

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

From Wall Street to Ballot Box in Middle East AND Back !

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The innocent looking, mathematics and business wizards, who were slogged in for 12 hours a day 5 days a week and partied for 24 hours on the weekends, who stood on their feet high, self made, a bit greedy at times for all the right reasons mostly never would have imagined how their shorting of all the traded asset classes, will affect the life of people sitting 5000 miles away in the middle of a desert.

At macro level when I think I am surprised to discover that by first half of 20th century imperialistic powers were thrown out and democracy was established in several third world countries, but many second world countries were and are still controlled by their own home grown imperialistic regimes who have allowed a selective or should I say restrictive freedom !

Interestingly the recent upsurges which swindled the thrones of hitherto venerated and often celebrated flamboyant, reasonably autocratic rulers such as Qaddafi, Mubarak and Ben Ali, have not impacted the GCC countries, despite their close political, cultural and religious ties. Instead the GCC countries have maintained the precious golden silence about all these surges, movements and have neither supported nor opposed any of the sides vehemently. Even more interestingly elections at various levels were organized within 3-4 months across these GCC countries.

The power in GCC countries is concentrated with very very few members of the royal family and almost anybody who has spent reasonable time in GCC knows this. The Kings and the Queens of these countries have used all their power and money to wield even more power and earn more money for themselves and for their people. All the royal families of GCC nations are popular amongst local nationals, are western educated and reasonably liberal too. So despite their old friendship with the likes of Gaddafi, they were wise enough to judge the changing times. Before their peace loving national could find spare time from shopping in the newly built swanky malls and artificially created islands, elections were declared, candidates were nominated, electoral lists were prepared and elections were organized peacefully and efficiently. While people were busy watching Al Jazeera and CNN to find the truth of what actually happened in Middle East, showcase reforms were conducted in a sweeping manner at the speed of light in this mighty oil rich part of Middle East now called as GCC. The local media and newspapers went all Gung-ho about these lip-service elections, but despite all the attempts to create buzz, voter turn out remained low (20%-40%). The voter list was prepared a bit arbitrarily though and not all the members of the family were allowed to vote. To impress the west and the rest, some women candidates were made to contest elections, but not many women were allowed to vote. The low voter turnout indicates the interest, perhaps necessity and efficacy of such elections.

In the increasingly connected world, the information is already being democratized at a much rapid rate and the consequences have been beyond what anybody could have ever imagined. The otherwise orderly GCC nations witnessed for the first time the chaos which was accompanied by movements/uprisings/struggle for freedom and democracy. At present the GCC nationals does not seems to be too much bothered about the idea of democracy. The generous government spending will ensure a high disposable income in the smaller of the GCC nations. However the not so oil rich and not so small nations are already facing the heat of dissent and public anger. The seemingly never ending supply of the Black Gold and its near all time high prices will ensure a constant source of revenue and hence prosperity for these nations. But for how long and how far, is the question which nobody wants to face right now. When all the developed socio-economic-cultural powerhouses of the world are busy in saving their today, these GCC nations can very easily afford to forget the distant future, which is very very difficult to predict in any case.

Tunisia and microscopically speaking the recession which was born and bred in the Wall Streets of the first world has catalyzed the process of democratic transformation in the second world but surprisingly most of the third world seems to be reasonably insulated. GCC nations have white washed their countries, the other Middle Eastern nations are celebrating their success, are busy pondering about their respective futures. Because of the autocratic regimes which lasted for decades, a political and leadership vacuum got created without anybody noticing it. So the new generation revolutionaries who knows how to Tweet on Facebook and fire AK 47 are digging mud to bury their past and fill up the vacuum.

The bizarre world we live in is getting more wired and weird every day. We are back to where we started this post, Full Circle as they call it. The snapshots are the same but the faces on both sides of the table are bit different this time. The flashy, egocentric, tyrants are being replaced by the suave, educated, liberal, capitalists, who are interested only in minding their own business. Infact they too would have never imagined, that such a day would come within their lifetime. As of now, they seems to be committing the same mistake which their counterparts from the Middle East committed, denial! Before they will realize things can become more ugly and violent.Will it end the same way?

Saturday, October 22, 2011

500 IITs, 50 IIMs and 550 AIIMS

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That's all we need to fix the education system of India. Quiet simple isn't it ! Same old, 4-5 fixed formula is not all is you need to appease, woo voters, snatch and retain power in India, today. That's what our current and even previous Minister of Human Resource Development and the GOI believe in general.

Blame it to lack of creativity or to inability to prepare a comprehensive master plan to revamp the business of higher education in India. Is it so hard to manufacture different names for different Universities? I think the ministries and bureaucrats needs to take some lessons in creativity from the Saas Bahu brigade, who keeps on creating new characters, sub plots under super plots for decades or the celebrated Roshans who keeps on inventing news names for their movies despite having the severe 'K' restriction.

IIT Kanpur is all set to establish a center in Noida and in parallel IIT Roorke is planning to open a research center in Noida, while my Alma-mater IIT Bombay is contemplating to set up campus in New York! Now that's some out of the box thinking ! With elections round the corner and Congress seems to be loosing battle on most of the fronts, I wont be surprised if in the name of progress Congress announce opening of another 5000 IITs, 5050 AIIMS and 50 IIMs in next 5 years. Very soon, we can run into some interesting conversations-

Ram- Hi, I am from IIT Baroda, Mysore, Behind Cloth Market.
Shyam- Hey, even I am from IIT Baroda, Mysore, but on left side of Cloth Market !
Radheshyam - Good to meet you guys. I am also from IIT Baroda, Mysore, above Cloth Market !!

All the newly set and old IITs are struggling to fill in 1000 odd vacant faculty positions. The swanky buildings of private Daring to think beyond Lovely universities and institutes have launched a full throttle advertising campaigns to woo the students. But who cares what's inside the box ! The packing should be attractive.

I am not at all questioning the need to open more institutes of advance learning and research in each and every district of India. I am not trying to question the great service IIT, IIM, AIIMS and several such universities have rendered over the years. My point is why cant we create competing brands? Why are we hell bent on converting all Oranges to Apples? Why cant we create an ecosystem in which Baroda Institute of Technology competes with IIT Baroda? Each university can offer something new, something different be it options of courses or pedagogy. Why cant government prepare a comprehensive master plan, before conducting a inauguration ceremony photo session for ever news hungry news papers?  Do we only need more Engineers, Doctors and Managers? What about adding new universities in the field of Literature, Fine Arts, History and Political Sciences?

Despite being admired by several Business and Political honchos of the west, none of the best of cream universities of India, appear in the list of top 50 universities of the world in any category and barely couple of them could make it to top 100! We can either choose to bask in the glory of these words of appreciation we have been receiving OR we can attempt to rethink, re-look at what we have achieved so far, whats wrong with the current situation and what all is yet to be achieved ! India is ranked way down when it comes to Per Capita spending on Primary Education and Higher Education. Which implies, we haven't done anything extra-ordinary by investing in reasonable infrastructure at IITs and IIMs, which is definitely best at domestic levels, but when compared at International level, reminds me of the famous Robert Frost's poem-

He Gives his harness bells a shake,
To ask if there is some mistake.
The only other sound's the sweep,
Of easy wind and downy flake.

The Woods are lovely, dark and deep,
But I have promises to keep.
And miles to go before I sleep,
And miles to go before I sleep.

Thursday, October 20, 2011

Monkey Near Zebra Crossing !

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I missed your calls today,
I think I missed some yesterday.
You know what,
I even missed to say,
How much I miss you !

Yes, you are right, I don't
Share my thoughts as frequently
As you do.
But you know Dr. Peters say,
We, men are capable of doing things
Such as thinking about nothing,
Without much ado.

Yesterday at the pa'a'n shop,
I heard some people say!
You are like a Chocolate pie,
And, I am a Monkey in the Zoo.
But even that doesn't stop me,
from ThinkIng about you.

I miss you, when I dont find you
To handover the towel,
And prepare a cup of tea
While I am in Loo.
I even miss you when,
I have other things to do.

So, please don't take this crap,
seriously, because you know,
We are near zebra crossing
and I'm driving slow.

Before reaching home,
We might bump into,
Couple of speed breakers,
If I don't take that amicable short cut
And a big traffic jam,
If I do.

But, Don't ever say that,
I don't care about you.
Just because I haven't bought you,
That Pink Shoe.
Because I know, you love me and
You know I you love you too!

Sunday, October 16, 2011

Bollywood's top 10 Super Hero flicks !

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Let me accept my ignorance for I have not seen some of the most fabulous sci-fi, action packed South Indian thrillers. But please don't call me racist for not doing that, no, not at all. I sincerely respect all the industries which generate employment, income, entertainment and provide sense of fulfillment to millions of deprived and self assumedly fulfilled souls.

Most of the Indian mythological books, scriptures are pre loaded with millions of stories, powerful, awesome characters but somehow the responsibility of showcasing all of them has been to the small screen. So I will list some of my favorite Super Hero flicks which depicted the common mango man who acquired extra-ordinary powers, skills and thus entertained us to death !

Long before Under (wear) taker was born and the dogs used the Rock for refreshing purposes, a yamla pagla Jaat knew that there isn't much difference between wrestling and acting. Innocent looks, personality worth 240 lbs and hiccuppulla dialogue delivery, a perfect recipe for Herculean Samsonish stardom.

Tarzan. No, we are not talking about the wonder car here. Unfortunately I never got to watch this movie because I was a reasonably tiny kid to comprehend the difference between curves of Tarzan and his wonder girl. But yes, I bleakly remember this movie became a talk of the town, for some stupid reasons. But I am pretty sure that whatever money this super jungle hero 1986 epic movie made in those times, other Hemant Birje movies would have made all put together.

Hey look, over there, its Shekhar with red blanket flying in the sky. No, its Superman.Yes, you read it correctly. The Duryodhan fame Puneet Issar dared to play the most popular comic super hero of recent times, the Indian version of Clark Kent aka Shekhar in and as Superman. Blame it to conspiracy of the universe or destiny, that none other than Dharam paa ji played the Kryptonic father of Super Shekhar Issar Man ! Quiet interestingly the often forgotten Kimi Katkar played an  instrumental role in two of the top 10 super hero chick flicks of Bollywood.

The first original Indian super hero, the simple guy with a heart of gold, who accidentially discovered his uncle's gadget which could make him disappear, backed by one of the most innovative villainous dil Khush Hua performance of Bollywood ! Mr.India was a true typical masala movie with lot of never seen before Hawa Hawai twists and turns. By 1987 Sridevi was already at her peak and Mr.India gave the Indian film audience a new classy, cheesy, cheeky, lovely and memorable couple on the silver screen. The couple gave several blockbusters in the years to come.

If we the people ever wanted someone to play a super hero avatar it is/was Amitabh Bachhan. He made the middle class angry young man, a new icon of silver screen. Unfortunately Ketan Desai couldn't recreate the magic like his father did in the preceding years. I was a bit confused between Shehenshah and Toofan. The costume and the wig which Amitabh B used in Shehnshah became the talk of the nation. I chose Toofan over Shehenshah because of some reason, I myself am not sure about :)

Nobody except the Big B at the helm of his career would have dared to do it again and again, come whatever may. And that's what sets him apart. In this 1991 multi-starer, big budget, sci-fi, fantasy Mr.Bachhan played the character of Ajooba, the wonder, produced, directed by Kapoor's stable. This flick was co-directed by a Soviet filmaker and hence was dubbed in Russian language as Vozvrashcheniye Bagdadskogo Vora. 

Not everybody was lucky enough to watch the once famous credit card ad, which famously said- there are few things which money can't buy ! UnFortunately not many lesser humans were lucky enough to  watch this movie which simply cant be classified in any one category. Whatever and whoever was available at that point in time was made to available for this suuupperr natural, scii-fii, horror, drama, romantic-comedy - Ek Anokhi Kahani, truly it was on all the parameters. I simply cant afford to disrespect the love of a dad for his son. If  you want to have a bit different kind of ball of an afternoon, do dare to watch this flick, but don't forget to arrange abundant supply of  beverages and company of few good old friends, who share your sense of humor, at least till the movie is being played.

A rare hit sequel of hit prequel. Another classic tale of love, romance and action, without any superficial attempts to delve into any kind of deep rooted philosophy, Krrish, starring Hritik Roshan was an instant hit. The father son magic did work at least with the kids though I sometimes wonder if the movie was made this intention. Call it the magic of K or hard work of Hritik Roshan, this movie established the brand Hritik Roshan and pushed him in the unique ivy league of Bollywood super stars. The rumor had it that after the first K block buster with the son, daddy Roshan planned both the K flicks well in advance. Now that's some planning !!

If daddy, can, why cant I ? But some questions are better left unanswered. Neither the former Miss World Priyanka Chopara nor KK Menon could save Drona, released in 2008. The most expensive movie of his life had it all the special effects, the really wicked crooks and the confusing attire in the middle of desert. Frankly I watched only some parts of Drona randomly, in bits and pieces and I never felt like laughing or having some mild amount of fun. A far too serious movie for my taste, but nevertheless I respect the friendship and love between Goldie Behl and the Jr.B. Goldie Behl was last found hissing around with    

Thank Goodness said the God after watching the latest biggest movie ever made on Indian soil, Robot. Well if Akshay Kumar and Aamir Khan can play college boys at 40+ and if they cant, no-one can even question Rajinikant and can prevent him from romancing with the once poster girl and now queen of Bollywood Aishwarya Rai and Bachhan.  Rajnikanth's next project is the Jurassic Park in Tamil. However, Rajni has twisted the climax. Rajni turns the earth upside down to dust off all the Dinosaurs from the earth and ships them safely in his private jet to Jupiter ....

Images source - via Google

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Obituary - White Bird & the Red Box ! Who's Next ?

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I hate to say this, but the slow and sad demise of already forgotten the white bird and the red box, the loyal companions for centuries, is turning into a much celebrated event. Gone are the days of waiting for eons, dying in love, enjoying the pain of separation, waiting to hear the fluffing of a white bird in the window or a knock on the door from a middle aged man wearing kool Khakis, driving mean machine. 

The age old battle ( yes, 7-8 years do feel like quiet a time now !) between utility, futility and importance of Social Media and Emails !

The battle is shaping up, the arena is jam packed and the warriors are all loaded with their arsenal of ideas. We the spectators are all set for a treat, though we have not dont much except being there, being alive at that point in time.

I think working professionals dont use Emails and Social media for same purpose as of now. While student and non-working people tend to use emails and Social media platforms interchangeably depending on several things such as Convenience (in office I dont want to be seen as logging into Facebook too often, whereas I can access my Gmail or Yahoo bit more conveniently without getting noticed :)). Sometimes Mood swings ( I hate slow emails today ! OR weekly resolution - Enough of Facebook for the week) decides the amount of time I will spend today on making money for Google or Facebook today. Interestingly my location also affects the amount of time I will spend on internet today. (Orkut is banned in UAE, Facebook is very slow in Egypt, Gmail does not work in lot of office in India !)

Emails perhaps will not be dead anytime soon at least for professional/business purposes. For personal use too, emails are still relevant because of easy filing, searching, tabulation features. The walls and the tweets are perceived to be under wide public domain and people still don't feel very secure using them and thus I dont think they share very personal content either as they can do in emails.

Once upon a time, there used to be bunch of 'smart guys' in every city who sold email database of thousands of potential clients for any of your and mine business. No matter what our business was, they knew our potential clients somehow. Now a days by 'allowing' the apps, we have taken away the job of those 'smart guys'. But the new breed of more smart guys, who are creating really smart apps are currently in demand. With these apps we not only share our email id, but all other information about our profile, that too happily, at our own free will, for good or bad.

Social Media is slowly replacing the Social Life which people used to live in real world. The BIG difference is virtual life is far more convenient (cost, time, energy) as compared to real world life. Revolutions have been happening in past 3000 years, people have been sharing their views, pics, songs also for reasonable time and they will still keep on doing that.

With time, I'm sure Social media platforms will get better, secure, reliable and will have all the email features and bunch of useful, bizarre features. Perhaps emails would be dead or redundant then !!

But the the growth, innovation has been happening in non-linear fashion, often unintended. The reasons behind every significant internet related innovations have been unique. So, who knows what circumstances will lead us to the next big bubble, next big thing, better than what we expected or even dreamt of, is just waiting to happen anytime soon, which can change the fundamental way we interact, learn, perceive ourselves and live our lives !!

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Saturday, October 08, 2011

Salman Khan - Changing Education Delivery Paradigm

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Now this is absolutely amazing. The non-linear growth can and will lead us to uncharted territories any time soon. Soon we will test unheard waters, much before anyone of us could have ever imagined. I serendipitously came across the real life hero Salman Khan and couldn't resist immediately sharing his views and amazing work virtually....

His simple, useful website provides free real online video tutorials . This model can actually and will infact change the way Education is delivered in our classrooms. Its free, its intuitive, it worked for me so I am sure it will work for you as well. No more do now need to feel shy about not knowing some fundamentals of biology or finance. I watched couple of sessions and really enjoyed and learned from it. Hopefully you too learn about the topic of your interest.

In the small town, I grew up, even good books were not available those days. Any by the way I am not talking about a situation few decades ago. So what the issues were more fundamental those days, such as what to read and what to learn. Thankfully situation has changed a lot in past one decade and I suddenly feel much old, such has been the pace of change in past decade.

During my short stint teaching kids in my neighbourhood as a part of Tech India campaign,  I realized that the Education for All, is not a very difficult issue. Just a very small amount of thinking and execution related issues needs to be addressed. The kids and their families I met were highly motivated, charged and wanted to learn, even on weekends, unlike me. As a kid I always was looking forward to Saturday and Sunday and under rarest of rare circumstances I used to open my books. So, these kids and their families were even getting decent scholarships and aids from the local government bodies to buy books, school fees etc. The school building though was very basic but it existed. So what was the problem ? The  biggest problem was they hardly had 2 teachers ! So for no faults of theirs, these kids were deprived of their future.

While innovative campaigns such as Teach India and Teach for India, provides opportunities for working professionals to make a difference, the solution developed by Khan Academy can nicely complement the efforts of Teach India and several such non profits. As Salman aptly states in his speech - the beauty of all these lessons is- timelessness. They are available forever, at virtually zero cost !! So will this solution make real teachers, redundant. No, I dont think so ! Technology is and will remain a powerful enabler (until the armies of AI induced robots conquer us all !!). These video tutorials, will compliment the Teachers, will help them improve their own efficacy and will make sure that more and more pupil in the classroom actually learn.

Salman Khan academy can address the problem of good quality teachers available in remote areas of India and elsewhere to a good extent.This simple concept is definitely a game changer in far many ways then you and I can even dream of tonight.

Fortunately our beloved GOI has declared the Right to Education, but they have no clues and it seems no intentions either to think about how to turn this yet another political gimmick into something meaningful. Anyways, enough said. Please watch this video and if possible share and celebrate the joy of learning !

Thursday, October 06, 2011

Will remain Hungry & Foolish !

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The world will always remain a bit hungrier for your ideas and foolish because it wont get all those wonderful things anymore, which only you could have created.

Steve Jobs is unarguably most loved and passionate technological evangelist, artist, anthropologist, inventor, investor and businessman of our times. Neither he was an astute geek nor an impractical artist. He was a firm believer of the human ability. Though I have never worked for Apple or bought any Apple product for several reasons at different points in time of my life but like many others Apple/Jobs fan, I read and heard him. His passion was and will remain always infectious, no matter what you do, no matter where you are. Whenever I read or hear him speak, I for few moments am transcended into another world, I start believing myself a bit more. Change is possible and change is the only constant thing as they say and change is what he always believed in. Most of his successful products created a new market for Apple and quiet surprisingly for his competitors as well. Sometimes I think he never believed in Playing Game by the rules or Changing the Rules of the Game. He created his own new games every time and his own set of rules. And that's what sets him apart. In addition to the phenomenal OS that he and his team created, he used simple concepts in User Interface, Design and Aesthetics and created a parallel world of his own. In his world he was competing with nobody but himself. 

He took consumerism to an all new level. I have seen people passionately waiting for the new iPhone release or buying the latest pads, tunes and whatever possible from Apple. I think I was very close to buying an Apple product twice but somehow circumstances never allowed me to do so. But I am fortunate enough to be surrounded by Apple buffs. One of my friend even bought the rarest and perhaps widely unknown Apple product - Apple TV. He took the Jobs advice to Think Differently, seriously and never purchased the other popular Apple gadgets. 

Sometimes I wonder whether he intentionally created products for classes, but then  I tend to believe that he was not like some high profile, fashion designers who sell a kerchief for fortune. He did what he liked and he liked what he did. In his own words “Being the richest man in the cemetery doesn’t matter to me … Going to bed at night saying we’ve done something wonderful… that’s what matters to me.” 

The most pragmatic advice I have ever come across, something very simple, something which tells you that you dont have to jump an airplane to be kool or travel to Himalayas to understand the ultimate goal of your life - “Your work is going to fill a large part of your life, and the only way to be truly satisfied is to do what you believe is great work. And the only way to do great work is to love what you do. If you haven’t found it yet, keep looking. Don’t settle. As with all matters of the heart, you’ll know when you find it. And, like any great relationship, it just gets better and better as the years roll on. So keep looking until you find it. Don’t settle.” 

We all try to search for salvation. Every country and every religion has identified, preached and propagated their own ways of attaining the ultimate. The Road to Salvation I think ultimately depends on individual. A 21st century spiritual techie, this one from Steve Jobs is something very similar to what Gandhi ji said half a century ago in totally different context though -“Your time is limited, so don’t waste it living someone else’s life. Don’t be trapped by dogma — which is living with the results of other people’s thinking. Don’t let the noise of others’ opinions drown out your own inner voice. And most important, have the courage to follow your heart and intuition. They somehow already know what you truly want to become. Everything else is secondary.”

Thank You Steve Jobs. Rest in Peace !


Image source- Google (various)

Sunday, October 02, 2011

Remembering Bapu

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Time and again, I try to revisit Gandhi ji, His thoughts, his actions, his beliefs and message. I always find something new, something which is so much more relevant as time passes by. Gandhi ji was a great scholar and   whatever he said or whatever he did was always backed by so much of thinking, reading and analysis. His life was an open book, without any internet based Social media those days. He relied on the real world, human interactions and real life based social media, wherein anybody can walk to him anytime, support or oppose, understand him or make judgment without understanding at free will.

Let’s revisit some of words of wisdom and try to understand in our own context, the relevance of these words-

“The Roots of Violence: Wealth without work, Pleasure without conscience, Knowledge without character, Commerce without morality, Science without humanity, Worship without sacrifice, Politics without principles”

A very complex statement, each and every part needs to read and re-read so as to get to the gist of the underlying rational. 

We seldom wonder, who we are, where we come from, how are we different from others, other life forms etc. A simple thought, a restatement which was said by numerous religious and political leaders in the past, 

A man is the sum of his actions, of what he has done, of what he can do, Nothing else.
Mahatma Gandhi

While some of modern philosophers and thinkers have written off religion on accounts of scientific grounds, but just because religion cant contest and win with Science on some of the grounds, does not mean that Science is the supreme, ultimate truth. Both Science and Religion are tools to discover and comprehend the chaos in nature (which includes human body, mind, thoughts, earth, extra-terrestrial, inter galactic matters etc).

No Religion which is narrow and which cannot satisfy the test of reason will survive the coming reconstruction of society in which the values will have and character and not possession of wealth, title or birth will be the test of merit.

He foresaw the changing times and the changing fabric of the society. He realized that Religions are not sacrosanct and should evolve to address the changing times, should be able to stand the test of Logic. A firm believer in Meritocracy, his above statement was ahead of his times, when the Indian society was deeply marred and divided on social, cultural, religious grounds.  
The statement below is quiet an interesting statement. He does not support the whole idea of living life based on blind ideologies. While we are the way we are and we believe in whatever we believe, but Gandhi ji argues that the Ideologies and Beliefs should not be followed just to feel good about ourselves, to appear consistent to ourselves and to the rest of the world.

Constant development is the law of the life and a man who always tries to maintain his dogmas in order to appear consistent drives himself to a false position.

In quest for truth and knowledge, one can or sometimes can’t keep harping the age old (may be a year old, a decade old, a millennium old) philosophies because some wise men said so.
Gandhi ji’s Life was his message. 

He said what he believed, he constantly questioned what he believed, and he did what he said and said.

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Soft Bomb !

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All of us in some way or the other played part in this explosion! This time around the noise is and will be played on demand, inside our minds, without causing any damage to the ears. The eyes, sometimes hands and the wallets all the times will be playing the instrumental role in making these explosions happen one after the other, sometimes for good, sometimes for bad but most importantly at will. This bomb has the ability to influence far more people in ways beyond imagination of the creator, the diffuser and the consumer. Yes, you read it correctly, there exist consumers who are more willing then ever to consume this explosion, so that they can create their own.

At any given point, so many people are working on their bombs and so many explosions are taking place that, some bombs despite potential, fail to create the craters or sometimes the moment you and me decide to make an explosion of our own, create our craters and enjoy our own Popcorn Happiness somebody else will create a bigger, wider or deeper crater with different shades. And so the people who were planning to fall into your and mine craters will instead be lured to the newly created friendly neighbourhood crater and after a while, your soft bomb and crater will be forgotten as if it never existed. But dont worry, every explosion no matter how small or insignificant it ever was, it will will always exist, forever before you yourself or the guy on who's land you made that explosion chooses to fill it up with sand and stones.

Some wise man will plant saplings out of explosion. These saplings will quickly grow into fruit bearing trees. Fruits for you and me to consume and enjoy, but once again this time around, things wont be same as before. The tree will indeed bear fruits, but unlimited number of people will be able to eat and enjoy these fruits for as long as they want.

The interesting aspect is the same bomb which created crater in my mind can give birth to a sapling in your mind !!

What have you created today ?

Image source- Google.

Friday, September 23, 2011

Moore's Law and the Big Battle

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30 years ago, nobody ever imagined any company can ever touch IBM. 15 ago nobody ever dreamt any internet technology company can ever bypass Microsoft. Bill Gates still is the richest man in the world. All sorts of conspiracy theories popped up how Microsoft was acquiring companies, breaching privacy and doing anything under the sun to kill the competition.

Microsoft changed the way we interacted with the machine. What was used for only cutting edge research slowly started gaining popularity and entered into offices and homes from the Windows.

For a short while,

Yahoo posed threat to Microsoft, but it never became a serious contender and always remained at nu
mber 2 or 3 position in Email and Search market. Towards the turn of the century two computer scientists launched a company which survived the Y2K (remember !!), the boom and the burst and went on to become the most
indispensable thing on earth we know today as Google !!

And so for a major part of the first decade of 21st century we saw a battle between 2 heros (and sometimes 2-3 side kicks), which immensely benefited the consumers in the process.

What analysts used to predict, fear, loath, love but still write about IBM->t;Microsoft
(sometimes Yahoo) now turned their focus on the seemingly invincible Google.

While Google kept on acquiring 100s of companies a year, a few critical ones in the list were Picasa, Android, Blogger and Youtube but in the process went on to be perceived this ->

Google empowered individuals with information, about anything, everything, anytime and anywhere. It turned my tiny 1 MB mailbox into literally unlimited sized. Rest as we know is history..

So, everyone thought this is it! Google know everything about everybody and nothing, absolutely nothing can beat Google. But as always, nobody can stop an Idea who's time has come !

Perhaps its time for Google to run a Google search to search for new ideas !

To cut the long story short, we saw some new players emerging out of nowhere, once again surprising everybody and proving analysts wrong. This time around not one but 2 new kids on the block took the world by storm.
The story was and still being rewritten. The information is not just about journals or articles, now the information is about us, in flesh. What we Like, whom we went school with, our family, kids, birthdays and trips. Now the media has become a tool to remain connected with our loved ones. Now, no matter where we are, we need not worry about being lonely. We need not cross the road to say hello to our friends, now we can get a close view of whats happening in the lives of those who matter to us without even having a word with them for a whole year. Our life's story is being re-created, not just by us but by others who know, like or hate us. We like it or not but its happening and it has once again changed the way we interact, look at things, situations, think and even our acts, knowingly or unknowingly. One can remain connected and informed without spending loads of money with the help of fancy mobile handsets first or second hand.

This new found power has already toppled few governments and few others are on the verge of falling down. The power which you and me never had, the power of information and the power of influencing anything and everything.

Every time the Challengers have won, every time the challengers were outrightly ridiculed and outrightly rejected by media, competitors and the masses. Most interestingly the timelines have started shrinking IBM enjoyed the numero uno crown for almost 30 years, while Microsoft ruled the market for almost 15 years, Google had its time for nearly 7-8 years before Facebook stole the hot seat recently. Interestingly the timelines are reducing to almost half. Every time an Apprentice takes on a Sorcerer, the toddler apprentice wins hands down.

As predicted by Moore's Law the computing power doubles in every two years and so the creators, the developers gets a lot more space and speed to play with. So can we expect something big in next 1 year now? A great idea can change the we perceive ourselves and everything around us, but how many times in our lifetime and precisely when the next time. We can feel about it but can never predict how and when the next time.

Image source- Google.

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

How much our MP's' earn, REVEALED !!

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Grammar Disclaimer: The As's' above was meant for the members and not the parliament!

PS: This post is not intended to ridicule the parliamentarian. I fully agree with GB Shaw on this one - Democracy is a device that ensures that we shall be governed no better than we deserve.

I sincerely hope after reading this analysis many more of us will be genuinely encouraged to join the politics as a full time career.

All the below data is available on Sarkari website . Though some numbers can be discussed, while some might think I over estimated, others might feel I underestimated, so I tried to remain reasonably conservative as much possible. In the analysis below, we are not even considering the indirect expenditures and benefits which MPs get such as security for self and family, subsidized grocery and almost everything else required to live a good healthy life from government canteens inside the parliament and other government canteens. We are also not analyzing the in kind benefits which our MPs tend to get during the festive seasons in the name of personal or party accounts, which causes their assets to grow 5-10 times within few years of coming into power. Such articles published in 2008, 2009 and 2011 can be read at leisure, to analyze the exponential rise in the total assets of those ruling us.

So from the table above as we can see, the conservative CTC (Cost to the Country) of an MP is close to Rs.35 Lakhs ($70k), excluding the cost of maintaining security guards, the cost of life long pension, insurance, sarkari vehicle etc. On an average 190 sessions of Parliament takes place in a year, so I have assumed that MPs in order to claim their Daily Allowance will attend all the sessions. Similarly the constituency allowance and the office allowance (which is meant to buy office stationery etc) will also be going invariably into the pocket. Pen, Mobile phones, grocery items, admissions to the local good schools and colleges, free gifts on all the festivals celebrated by any religion, in addition to birthday, marriage anniversary gifts etc are some vanila perks which are not even considered illegal by most of the laws in India, which MPs can enjoy.

So while government wants BMC to go on a strike to implement 6th Pay Commission on one hand, on the other hand they want to lower the line so as to reduce the number of people below poverty line (and thus reduce the funds/schemes for them) on another, on third hand (if it exists) they want 42 years to pass a Lokpal bill, but when it comes to their own salaries, the bill was created and passed by themselves quiet easily without much discussions.

They already earn highest of the monies, still I would suggest let's give them another 100% hike every 5 years based on performance, so that they make more money than any other member of parliamenterain in the world can ever imagine, so that the best of the breeds and the best of the talents would want to enter the politics not just for public service but for their own personal, short term, immediate gains and focus time and energies on things which they are supposed to be doing, so that we can proudly agree to GB Shaw.

Image source - Google