Sunday, April 30, 2006

over (Turbo) charged Mumbai

Day One.
Vasai Fort.
Purchase : Two bottles of Sprite.
Actual Price : 7 per bottle
Charged : 10 Rs.
Reason : Cooling charges.
When reminded about the pitfalls of overcharging, response was “I don’t care”
Demanded for a bill and he obliged by writing it on a piece of paper.
Day Two.
Gate way of India

Purchase: a bottle of mineral water and a soft drink.
Actual Price: 12 for Mineral water and 18 for soft drink.
Charged: 15 for Mineral water and 20 for soft drink
Reason. Cooling charges.
When he saw my SLR camera, and my insistence for the bill, he took me for a journalist and returned the excess. No bills here too.
Day Two.
Gateway of India

Purchase. A taxi ride from Gateway to Churchgate Railway Station
Actual Price: 13 to 15 according to traffic situation.
Charged. 26 Rs.
Reason. The cabbie took me on a round about way, thinking I don’t know my way around there. He took me to Nariman Point first then turning right to Churchgate station.

So much for consumer protection and “jaago grahak jaago” advertisement campaign.
Now I am planning to do a repeat of this with some officials. Can anyone give an advice as to how to go about it and whom to contact? Phone numbers in the respective areas are appreciated.

Wednesday, April 26, 2006

Pramod Mahajan-The BJP strategist

So the hype and hoopla surrounding the Pramod Mahajan shooting is somewhat died down and the item is longer a front-pager. Now it’s time to reflect upon some of the startling facts this incident threw up. The conspiracy theorists were agog and suspected some black character playing villain in this rather unfortunate episode. It is yet to be ascertained as to why Praveen Mahajan shot him, what was the provocation and motive and whether there were any other conspirators in the whole scheme. Initial reports suggests that it was a crime in the heat of the moment, and not a pre-meditated one, but the final picture will be clear only after the police is through with the interrogation of key witness, Rekha Mahajan, the wife if the victim.

His health.
The doctors constantly keep a watch on Pramod and admit that the situation is very grim. The bleeding from the Lever has stopped and heart is in good health. But two other key parameters, the Kidney and Pancreas, have started functioning erratically. He is on 24 hour dialysis due to the non-functioning of the Kidneys. But it’s his pancreas that has got all these doctors worrying. The injury on the mouth of the pancreas caused the leaking of Juices from it and if it is not stopped, the abdominal tissues will be ‘digested’ by it. And his Blood pressure is kept normal by means of medication and is not breathing his own. He is on ventilator support and until he starts breathing his own, the docs can’t do anything. The bullets still remain inside the body.

Be seen.
The crème-de-la-crème of national glitterati, politicians, film personalities and top businessmen all were there at Hinduja Hospital. But some little-known faces, notably a bearded one, seen smiling at the cameras from behind the media-addressing desk. Irrespective of who addressed the media, these gate crashing party-spoilers just kept showing their teeth and gained some mileage. Talk about blood sucking parasites!

Doctors, dozen a dime!
It is always a good thing to ask a few well-known doctors for suggestions. But the poor doctors at Hinduja spend a lot of time briefing all these visiting legends. They have to glean the time from their duties such as treat less-fortunate and less-formidable patients who are also fighting death.
And the constant flow of VVIPs into the hospital threw the normalcy that is ubiquitous here. An army of Law enforcement agencies virtually hijacked the campus and made life hell for the common man. Though these days we are used to it, I guess.

The loser
The loser in this is BJP. Even if Pramod gets well, I sincerely hope he will, he will be unable to fit into the rigors of national politics. The grind of it may too hard for him. So, in effect BJP has lost a top class trouble shooter and a very good strategist. He was the man chosen to run elections for the party. And He has done that many a times with positive results. He was the cohesive between Shiv Sena and BJP. BJP Maharashtra politics always revolved around him. How they cope with this is to be seen in the coming days.

Had fate not intervened, Pramod could have turned the table on the current UPA government and brought BJP into power. With no clear replacement, BJP is now groping in the dark and like a mountaineer who lost his guide. And we temporarily lost a shrewd, cunning and thinking politician.

Thursday, April 20, 2006

My Lord, you are done with.

one of the remnants of british raj from our Justice system has disappeared yesterday when Lawyer associations decided to do away with "My Lord" & "Your Lordship" from proceedings. Along with the wigs now these too takes a place in the history books. But I sincerely hope someone do something about this too


It's been one year since I started to write regularly in this blog. I was a member of blogger community much before that, but started my series of articles on 1st April 2005.
I wish to thank all those who supported me and been faithful readers. Thanks a lot.

Wednesday, April 19, 2006

Nepal-the Lost paradise

So things have come down to a major face-off between Pro-democracy people and the King in Nepal. King Gyanendra is using all the power he can summon in his quest to suppress the rising and given shoot at sight order who breach the curfew imposed on the capital. The days of Kingship is numbered there. But the alarming thing is the tie-up between democrats and the Maoists. Wonder what is in store for the Himalayan kingdom.

I wrote something about Nepal back in Dec and one Nepali by the name of Nepali_guy has strongly opposed to my views in the comments section. Would like to know what he is saying now.

Get your maths right Minister

Mathematics, rightly viewed, possesses not only truth, but supreme beauty - a beauty cold and austere, like that of sculpture.
Bertrand Russell
British author, mathematician, & philosopher (1872 - 1970)

Mathematics is the queen of the sciences.
Carl Friedrich Gauss, from Sartorius von Waltershausen, "Gauss zum Gedachtniss" [1856]
German mathematician, physicist, & prodigy (1777 - 1855)

So at last there is an answer to the problems that Indian students faced all these years. Maharashtra, a trend setter in many avenues, come up with another novel idea to end the miserable conditions our students live. The extremely intelligent state minister of School Education, Prof Vasantrao Purke come up with this rather bizarre suggestion to make Mathematics an optional subject in school curriculum. . The above quoted greats are in no way comes at par with this guy. For a country who contributed ‘zero’ to the world, this suggestion is an absolute humiliation. When countries like the US of A and other scholars from world over emphasis the importance of mathematics & science in fear of losing the edge of their students to Indian and Chinese due to their prowess in these subjects, we are planning to blunt that same edge by introducing these draconian measures just to make the winning percentage looks good?
At a time when Indian professionals are being hailed as the best all over the world, this suggestion is totally unwarranted and uncalled for. That too from a top minister makes the impact more dangerous. If this trend is continued, we can scrap physics and chemistry and may be biology and other difficult subjects from the curriculum and introduce new subjects like, Paddy farming, Cricket and politics in order to make it easy for rural students.
The very basic of our intellect is Mathematics. If one is to survive in any of the careers that are available now, a sound mathematical background is essential. Without it, how one could succeed in life is beyond my comprehension. May be the minister was just shooting his mouth off. Hope he doesn’t mean it. If he does, it will have serious repercussions on the future generations.

Tuesday, April 18, 2006

Now reservation in private sector

It couldn’t get more ridiculous. As if the suggestion to reserve 49% of IIM/ IIT seats for backward caste, our otherwise intelligent PM brought up another suggestion. Sorry, no suggestion, a demand to private sector. Reserve jobs for SC/ST/OBC or face legislation for it. How low they can stoop in this regard? Is this government thinking only about the lower caste? The “upper” caste doesn’t have any right to stay and work in this country? As much as the honchos of private firms agree with the government, they have their reservations about the whole idea. They fear that if they don’t comply with the order, legislation will be slapped on their face. This forcing down their throat is not going down well with them.
The empowerment of backward communities must top the agenda of any government. But should it be at the cost of wholesome development? Here is some food for thought.
It is a common knowledge that govt sector lack any competence or efficiency. In such an environment, the in-efficient, got their jobs mainly due to reservations and not on any merit, thrive. But private sector is totally driven by commitment and efficiency. If a lower caste employee is found to be lacking in this respect, could they fire him? Govt sector promotion is purely based on the duration of service and servility. Pvt Sector is totally on performance. What’s the scope of one getting promoted there? India’s private sector is what driving the boom in our economy and earned a name for its efficiency. Now incompetent employees could just spoil that too.
I am not under the impression of lower caste students/employees are not equipped with these qualities. They have it in them to do it and are eligible for any kind of job as the others are. But reservations are not required for a particular caste if they have it in them. If they are good, and don’t have the financial prowess to make it, then the government should step in and provide economical assistance.

Here are few things that we can expect to see in near future.
1. Virar-Churchgate fast local. 50% of sitting & standing space reserved
2. MNcs like IBM, MicroSoft and HP has to reserve 50% of their jobs. As a result, the computers that they make and programs and printers will be 50% less efficient. But who’s complaining. After all India has achieved social balance.
3. 50% of players in Indian cricket team will be reserved. And we can ask other countries to bowl 50% less faster and if they hit a SIX off these it will be considered as THREE

Thursday, April 06, 2006

Reservation for OBCs in IIM

Natural ability without education has more often attained to glory and virtue than education without natural ability.
Roman author, orator, & politician (106 BC - 43 BC)

Imagine this; you are locked in fierce combat with your opponent in deadly boxing fight. In every round you outscore him only to find out you end up as a loser. When you question the verdict, the judges say this; your opponent belongs to a backward cast and therefore he is eligible for 30% of your marks!
In somewhat similar fashion, the government is planning to bring reservation for OBC (other backward caste) in IIMs and IITs. These two institutions are the torch bearers of India’s march towards the future. The very names evoke respect in any country, is going to be politicized just to garner a few votes.
Reservation for financially backward people is justified. Those who are brilliant in studies but can’t afford higher education should be given a chance. But reservation for people in the name of their religion / caste? What if he/she doesn’t have what it takes to make it? This move will definitely erode the credibility of our premier institutes. The congress have always been adopted this backward community appeasement and in that process, they forgot there are a majority living below poverty line but they can’t claim any of the benefits these backward castes enjoy. Their crime? They belong to a higher caste. I still remember my college days. That time in Kerala, +2 was in colleges and there were 4 groups. 1st (Maths), 2nd (science), 3rd (arts) and 4th (commerce). 1st and 2 were considered superior and 3rd was the last choice. One of my friends who have secured about 70% in 10th Final exam had to be content with 4th(his third choice), while his classmate who have secured just 43% got admission to his prime choice, 2nd group. Eventually the 70% guy passed with high marks and become a very good accountant. The other one, after failing +2, earns his daily wages by working in the farms. A waste, won’t you say?
The criteria for selection should always be merit. All other criterion will just be injustice to others who are meritorious. Caste, creed and tribe should not be a decisive factor in at least this premier institutes. The school and college education is already taken a beating by the politicization.
The only reservation should be for financially backward. This way, more brilliant students get a chance to make it big and, no doubt, our country will be benefiting from it.

Wednesday, April 05, 2006

Pakistan - How trustworthy are they?

The wounds that Kargil war inflicted on the Indian psyche is not over yet. India lost about 5000 soldiers in what was absolutely a nonsense war. India received many back-pats from international community for not going overboard and crossing the Line of control and averting a possible nuclear war with Pakistan. But by not crossing the LOC, our soldiers was seriously crippled and the enemy was firing down at them. The war ended and India emerged victorious, both in Military and diplomatic front but at a very dear cost.
Similar concerns are expressed by top military officials about the proposed de-militarization of Siachen Glacier, the highest battle point.The Agra summit of Gen. Parves Musharaff and the then Indian P.M. A. B. Vajpayee led to the Kargil infiltration. After the summit, both nations started walking on a new peace path and exploiting this lower vigilant situation, Pakistan army and the dreaded ISI pushed the infiltrators across the border. Most of the enemies killed that operation was regular soldiers of Pakistan, however hard they deny it.
Now, is Pakistan trustworthy anymore? What had changed since? The General is still at power, ISI still actively pushing terrorists to Kashmir, Pakistan Military still fires at Indian post, though in a less frequent manner. India still sees Bomb blasts and other terrorist activities; terrorist outfits still operate at PoK. So why India should trust Pakistan and de-militarize Siachen? Why they wouldn’t attempt a Kargil in Siachen?
Even the international community eyes Pakistan with some suspicion. They all know that Pakistan, as a nation, can’t be taken seriously in their promises. America, the biggest ally of Pakistan, is shifting its allegiance eastward. After the A. Q. Khan episode, their credibility has taken a further beating. The only thing why America still engages Pakistan in its war on terror is the fear of its own security. If America doesn’t keep tabs on Pakistan, the nuclear arsenal of Pakistan will end up in extremist hands and it will be a disastrous situation. There is no stability in Pakistan. Democracy is still in it’s infancy stage there and it’s an open battle for power between Extremists who wants to make another Taliban and the Military. Their economy is in tatters. Anarchy rules. The arm of law doesn’t reach its tribal areas.
The military’s concerns must be taken seriously. If they feel Siachen shouldn’t be vacated, it shouldn’t be. Period. No political brownie points are worth the national security. We don’t want to send our soldiers to a war that can be avoided in the first place. Don’t pull them out because later they have to go again, but then the enemy will be waiting there.

Tuesday, April 04, 2006

Indian Justice System is Holidaying

“Justice Hurried is Justice Buried”
“Justice Delayed is Justice Denied”

Indian courts are notorious for it’s sluggish pace. Cases dates back to previous century still await verdicts. But some cases are heard in a fast-track court and verdicts delivered within a matter of weeks. Why can’t all the courts be Fast-track then? Or precisely, why SOME cases are heard in a special manner while others are destined to languish in the fray for their lifetime and beyond?
Some statistics suggest over 1,50,000 Cases are pending in the Supreme Court alone.
High courts have a back log of about 1.5 Million cases! Don’t think about the lower courts.
. Even if the courts work 24/7 for the next century, it may not be possible to clear this backlog.
One reason given for this backlog is the Indian’s highly litigating nature. Some say it judicial over-activism, but it is the people who are running to the court for each and every silly things as if there is no other way out of it. And appeals made to a higher courts make things worse.
But, strangely, courts with such mountainous backlog, still enjoys a lot of holidays. Summer vacation is for 7 weeks and plus all the other holidays in a year . Here is a the total leaves per month for Supreme court of India.
Jan 2006: 5 Sundays, 2 holidays.
Feb 06: 4 Sundays, 1 Holiday
Mar 06: 4 Sundays, 6 Holidays (6 days for HOLI!!!!)
Apr 06: 5 Sundays, 3 Holidays
May 06: 2 Sundays, 1 Holiday, 17 Days Summer Vacation!!!
Jun 06: Entire Month (30 days) summer vacation!!!
July 06: 4 Sundays, 2 days summer vacation
Aug 06: 4 Sundays, 3 days holiday
Sep 06: 4 Sundays, Thank god!! No holidays
Oct 06: 5 Sundays, 14 Days holiday!!
Nov 06: 4 Sundays, Thank God! No holiday.
Dec 06: 5 Sundays, 12 Holidays (Christmas & New Year!!!)
A total of 137 days off!!! 38% of the year! In fact the courts work for only a mere 62% days! No wonder our courts are chest-deep in pending cases. Soon it will be eye-deep and will die a suffocating death. There is no meaning for a system to exist where it can’t serve its purpose.
Recently there was a trend where a lower court’s decision is upturned by the higher court. This will further erode the credibility of lower courts. Does this reversal means the lower court judges are not capable of deciphering the complex laws properly and deliver a just verdict? Does that mean they are corrupted? Reading together with reports of corruption in lower court judges, the picture gets clearer. So where is hope? Not all of us can afford to go to Supreme Court for justice. If lower courts fail to convince the people about its credibility, there will be little respite for the poor man.