December 18, 2008

Charlie Wilson's War

This is an awesome movie for all those who would like to understand how the end of Cold War had very unexpected repurcussions in South Asia. Its a true story based on a US Congressman who started pumping in millions of dollars in training and arming the Afghan Mujahideens to fight the Russians, routing the money through Pakistan. Soon, the Mujahideens were no longer only Afghans, people joined from many countries like Saudi Arabia, Egypt, Iraq, Pakistan etc. This movie is an eye opener and corroborates with the problems India has been having since the end of Cold War. After the Russians withdrew from Afghanistan, thousands of Mujahideens were left with lot of weapons and no enemy to fight. They were directed to fight India and this was about the same time we started having problems in J & K. They also directed their ire on US and thus began Jihad, a religious war which has nothing to do with Islam but a lot to do with politics, power and money.
I must say, the vulgarity and nudity in the movie is unwarranted and only serves to distract. That apart, Tom Hanks (one of my favourites) has done a brilliant job of playing the US Congressman.

December 17, 2008

Corporate Governance

Well, I am no authority in this subject but surely there must a law enacted to prevent financial fraud. I am talking about the aborted attempt by Ramalinga Raju of Satyam Computers to exit from Satyam and clean out the cash. He thought he was very smart and the world all so dumb, around him. Actually, he may have been able to do it ~15/20 years ago without anybody noticing but not anymore. Fortunately, we have a more active media and financial watchdogs to alert the who's who and scuttle his plans.. I watched him on TV yesterday and he put on such an act.. such innocence.. who does he think we are - brainless? Even for a lay person like me it was clear he was siphoning away money and didn't care two hoots what happened to the shareholders nor the employees of Satyam. A pointed question on who owned Maytas was asked and he said he didn't have all the details and was not privy to information that even a News reporter had!! Without such information, he planned to invest 1.6 billion US$.... who does he think he is talking to, school kids??
Not to mention the beating India Inc has taken in the eyes of the World, thanks to this misadventure. I believe most family owned businesses are now being viewed with suspicion, naturally. This has blotted India Inc image and will take a lot of efforts to re build confidence in Indian Cos.

Just as we woke up to the lacuna in our system to combat terror, this is a wake up call to have stricter laws to book such fraudsters under IPC.
Well, I have been critical of the media in my earlier posts, they deserve praise here, and I think they had a role in scuttling the whole deal. I particularly liked the way the presenters asked pointed, no-holds barred questions at Mr. Ramalinga Raju. There was no implied meanings or oblique references made, they were straight and boldly thrown at him. Kudos to the CNBC team!! (that was the only channel I watched on this issue).

December 13, 2008


I find it very discomforting when leaders, influential people of the world, take positions without proper understanding of the subject. Well, I am talking about the Bioethics document that the Vatican has come out with yesterday. It says, the Vatican slams cloning, stem cell research, IVF, 'the morning after' pill etc.. While the Vatican's leanings have always been along these lines in the past, one would hope that thinking changes with time.. Alas, I am so wrong.. the Vatican has come down so strongly against any scientific advances, that I wonder if they are in touch with reality. They say cloning is bad, all the new medicines produced today are through cloning. So, are they saying we stop taking medicines when we fall sick? With each year, we have more people to feed and lesser land for agriculture, if not through genetic modification, how else can we produce more food?

We already are 6 billion plus today, far more than the Earth's carrying capacity. But the Vatican says 'the pill' is wrong and so is abortion. So, the message is keep procreating and test the earth's limit!!

My point is that all human actions have pros and cons. Its up to us to weigh them and take smart decisions. These need to done by understanding the process, the methodology, weigh the risks and take informed decisions. For example, agriculture per se is harmful to the environment!! Now, did you all realise that??? But can we stop agriculture and get back to stone age and eat wild fruits and berries three times a day? Religious leaders need to change with time and adapt, to remain relevant in the new scheme of things. Unfortunately, leaders and in this case the Vatican has failed miserably.

Lets take the case of AIDS. In Africa, where its reached epidemic proportions for some years now, we have the Church opposing the use of condoms because its against the Church's teachings! I find this preposterous. We ought to revisit some of the rigid viewpoints taken earlier vis a vis the changing world and the new challenges for humankind.

For some more information on Cloning and other technical details, I would like readers to read my other blog -

December 11, 2008

One of the most hilarious forwards..

(ApplicationForm to Be Filled For Contesting Lok Sabha Election)

1.Name of Candidate: _______________________

2.Present Address:
(i.)Name of Jail: _______________________
(ii.)Cell Number: _______________________

3.Political Party: _______________________ *List ONLY the Last Five parties in Chronological (Order)

4.Sex: [ ]
A- Male
B- Female
C- Mayawati
D- Uma Bharathi

5.Nationality: [ ]
A- Italian
B- Indian

6.Reasons for leaving last party (circle one or more)
A- Defected
B- Expelled
C- Bought out
D- None of above
E- All of above

7.Reasons for contesting elections (circle one or more)
A- To make money
B- To escape court trial
C- To grossly misuse power
D- To serve the public
E- I have no clue
(If you choose "D, attach Certificate of Sanity from a Recognized Government Psychiatrist)

8.How many years of public service experience do you possess?
A- 1-2 yrs
B- 2-6yrs
C- 6-15yrs
D- 15+yrs

9.Give details of any criminal cases pending against you (Use as many Additional Sheets as you want)

10.How many years have you spent in Jail? [ ]
(Donot confuse with question 8)
A- 1-2 years
B- 2-6 years
C- 6-15 years
D- 15+years

11.Are you involved in any financial scams? [ ]
A- Why not
B- Of Course
C- Definitely
D- I deny it all
E- I see a foreign hand.

12.What is your Annual Corruption Income? [ ]
A- 100-500 Crores
B- 500-1000 Crores
C- Overflow... (Convert all your $ earning from Hawala etc to Rupees)

13.Do you have any developmental plans for India in mind? []
A- No
B- No
C- No
D- No

14.Describe your achievements in space provided: [_________]

Issued in public interest by Election Commission of India, India.

December 6, 2008

Sweet Dal

Well, there are everyday dishes that we tend to excel in, with time. Here's one of them. Boil channa dal with a dash of turmeric powder in a cooker. Allow to cook really well. Since each cooker is different, let me say keep it thrice as much longer as you would for rice. In a kadai, add a bit of ghee, 2/3 cloves, 2 tej patta, 2 big elaichis, 2/3 sticks of dalchini. Roast lightly, keep aside. Add a little ghee, add jeera, wait till it crackles, add diced tomataoes, 1 green chilli and wait till the tomatoes are cooked. Add the boiled channa, the roasted spices and bring to boil. Add water to the desired consistency. Add salt (75% of what you would usually add) and jaggery( maybe ~100 g for 1 cup of channa dal). Once it comes to a boil, remove from flame. Add freshly cut dhania leaves and roasted cashews, raisins and serve hot. Goes amazingly well with methi parathas.. (the mild bitterness of the methi gets balanced with the sweetness in the dal).


This is a very simple recipe, tastes delicious. Hang well-set curd ( not sour though), in a muslin cloth and allow to hang and drain the whey completely. This should take ~ 4 hours. Do this preferably during the cool hours of the day so the curd doesn't get too sour. If your ambient temperature is too hot, you could do this in the fridge too!! I've done this in Chennai, for obvious reasons:-). Transfer the curd minus the whey into a bowl, add flavoured, powdered sugar (either clove, cardamom). Mix well till creamy and smooth. Refrigerate and serve chilled with hot puris. Did this recently and had my family lapping it up clean.
Don't forget to leave your comments after trying this out!

December 3, 2008

Indian Media

So much has been written and said about the chilling terror attack in Mumbai. I would like to add that it's time, we have media do's and don'ts. Ever since 24/7 news channels have begun, these channels have been vying for scoops, exclusive stories etc.. Nothing wrong with that as long as they do reporting and not sensationalising news and adding to the chaos and confusion. We've seen it during the Arushi murder case and how they convicted the father even before the investigations began! Now, with the recent attacks they seems to have gone completely brainless. Here, we were, being attacked by sophisticated terrorists with sat radio /phone and we were feeding them information via our news channels on the NSG, Marcos Commandoes and reinforcements and positions. What a joke it must be for the terrorists!!
Yes, the attack had to be aired on news channels but couldn't we just be shown some clips that was shot an hour earlier and not reported Live?? Couldn't we have had reporting every hour rather than minute to minute?? Many times, they were simply replaying the shots and repeating the news. My impression from the whole 56 hour hour coverage was that the news channels reported it like it was some action movie without any thought about the implications of their actions and lack of any sensitivity whatsoever

November 27, 2008


Well, all of us have heard what's happening in Mumbai... And yes, this is isn't another terror strike that seems to be striking every other month in some Indian city or town... Surely, we all agree the magnitude and scale is very different. As media channels say, its actually a war that our NSG, etc are waging with very sophisticated and well equipped terrorists. What really disturbs me is a couple of things...

  • Why does it take >24 hours to flush out terrorists from buildings identified with a terror strike
  • What can we as citizens do to prevent such repeat incidents
  • What can governments, particularly Indian, do in the context of global terrorism
  • How prepared is our Police, army, NSG and everybody to handle such sophisticated terrorism

Its time, we, as citizens wake up to the reality facing our country. We need to become more aggressive, and hard nosed when dealing with terrorists. We can surely learn a thing or two from Israel on how they cut no deals with terrorists, storm airplanes or any place where hostages are taken, basically giving it back to them hard and staright. This soft nation strategy has taken us nowhere, infact has brought down our morale as a country. Take the case of the terrorists' audacity today, to use our own Police vehicle, have it driven at gun point by an Indian Policeman and shoot people on the roads from Police Jeep!!! Atrocious, isn't it? I mean, can't the Police man simply refuse? I know its easy to sit in the comfort of my house and pass opinions but I think we ought to cultivate the spirit of Do or Die amongst our security agencies. They appear to be as soft as civilians, which is not how they are trained in other countries.

November 21, 2008

MSD and Indian cricket

Its a really a good phase for Indian Cricket and fans. We have an immensely talented captain in M S Dhoni who is also very lucky. Its amazing how successful he's been in all versions of the game.. Twenty20, ODI or a 5 day match. Seems almost too good to be true and Indians are surely not grumbling. Here, at last is a team that we can root for and not be betrayed like its been for indian fans, this past decade. Surprisingly, we've had stalwarts of the game but we've been very inconsistent and Consistency seems to be what M S Dhoni has brought to the team. 3 years ago I would not have thought he would be so good as a captain.. hats off to him. He has really brought the team together and in quick time. Ample evidence of these skills is in the way he handled the captaincy of the CSK team where he had less than a month. Not to mention the way he handled the pressure when CSK was down and had 'must win' matches in the IPL... The recent Oz series was brilliant and the Aussies were beaten loud and clear in all aspects of the game. Cheers to MSD and the team and look forward to many more successful tours within and outside India!!

November 4, 2008

US Prez

Well, the whole world is talking, discussing and analysing the two candidates and I've been bitten by the bug too!!! In India we get to read who will be good from an Indian perspective and blah and blah.. So far I have only come across the following reasons why McCain is better than Obama, for India.
  • McCain does not advocate a protectionist (against outsourcing and against farm subsidies) regime while Obama favours
  • McCain will continue the nuclear deal agreement as a true Bush successor but Obama does not favour supplying nuclear fuel to India
However, an important factor for India which no one has pointed out (to my knowledge ofcourse) is that Obama is keen to pull up Pakistan and is convinced about Paki terrorism. So, I would say Obama is very good for India. Well, personally, I've been rooting for Obama right from the beginning of this year and I hope like he delivers what he's promised during the Campaign - Change. I am sure you all agree we've had enough of the Clintons and Bush's for 2 decades now... Surely, Obama brings a freshness to US politics and to the World.

November 3, 2008

My fav Columnists

I've been posting about current affairs in this blog. Want to know who inspire and spur me on to blog?? There are a few of them who write well and I like them for their insight, perspective and humour. Here goes my list.. not in the order of favourites, rather random. I love TJS George's columns in Indian Express, don't subscribe to his views always but love his humour and style. Arvind Lavakare's columns I value for his opinions which are similar to mine and his satirist style makes it immensely interesting. I've recently become a huge fan of Swaminathan Anklesaria Iyer. His articles on the recent global meltdown, general views on economy, both India and World perspective in fairly simple language (minus jargons) makes it comprehensive and very insightful. Shashi Tharoor's columns are delightful.. his perspectives are amazing, (his assignmnets in United nations no doubt) and has an easy writing style that makes it enjoyable. Well, these are my regular and favourites, I do occasionally enjoy reading Bachi Karkaria's Erratica, Tavleen Singh's Fifth Column and Jug Suraiya's Jugular vein.

November 2, 2008

Tamil Nadu and LTTE

I am very disturbed with this sudden solidarity shown by Tamilians in India towards the Tamilians in Lanka. I find it so wrong.. Yes, off late, the Sri Lankan army has apparently been ruthless even to tamil speaking civilians in their effort to end the strife in the war torn country.

Yes, there maybe a case of Human Rights violation and we can certainly protest that and pressurise the Sri Lankan government on that point. But we certainly cannot protest to the Sri Lankan government as Indian Tamils, we must do that as Indians.

When politicians resort to these cheap antics, it is understandable but I am concerned that many non political individuals and so called educated people have extended support for the Sri Lankan Tamils. This does does not augur well for India's foreign policy. A parallel will be drawn by Pakistan and they will liken our interference in Sri Lanka's internal matter as similar to Pakistan's stance of being concerned over the law and order in J & K while we all know that they indulge in cross border terrorism for years, in the name of freedom struggle of Kashmiris.

November 1, 2008

Pushing Hindus into a Corner

I've been wanting to write on this issue for a while and I happened to read this article which voices my sentiments fully. Its time we acknowledge this as Hindus. Increasingly, mainstream papers and media are shying away from publishing a Hindu standpoint, lest they be branded as 'Hindu right wing fundamentalist'. Its time we make our voices heard loud and clear. Read this link to the excellent article by Tarun Vijay

An hour with a RJ

I went to participate in a discussion on 'Life Skills' for a new radio station in Chennai, called Chennai Live. Oh yes, I was representing the Art of Living organisation. Good fun it turned out to be.. and learning as well. Life for a RJ sounds so glamorous and when you actually meet them, and watch them do their job, you see erosion of the 'glam' quotient a bit. That apart, this new station is quite nice and I like their idea.. they invite couple of people (experts, they say) and have good, quality meaningful Q & A, during the breaks for a couple of minutes, not the superficial talking that many other stations do... I was told that they are targeting the educated population of Chennai, made me feel good for sure!!! And the good thing is they play English to Tamil songs in a 3:1 ratio which is such a welcome in Chennai. I do hope they stick to this format and not succumb like Radio City has.. Lets raise a toast to Chennai Live and more of their ilk!!!

My Sassy Girl

Saw the English version of the movie. Its quite an engaging movie, a very different romantic (maybe bizarre at times). Right from the start, its quite vague and quirky but very surprisingly, you get drawn to it. We both (Swamy and I) had the same feeling.. there was something in it, an element of surprise, perhaps, that kept us entertained to the end. I had heard so much about the original Korean movie that I picked it the moment I saw it in our DVD library. The reviews said its a poor remake but I can assure you, it entertains, nonetheless.

Wall Street / Dalal Street Mess and Swaminomics

Ah, yes, I am back to blogging after an unintentional break.. I read this article by Swaminathan Anklesaria Iyer about a month ago and would really like to share with all. It really educated me on the Financial Mess US (and therefore the whole world) is in, and why Freedie Mac and Fannie Mae did what they did. Its a must read for all and especially for the uninitiated like me. It opened my eyes to what damage we can do and the extent to which politicians will go to be in power, with money. Hats off to Swaminomics for this enlightening column [ ]

and I have been a regular reader of Swaminomics since June 2008 as he was the only person in the whole world who put his neck out to say crude will fall below 100 $/barrel when it was at 135 $/bar

September 5, 2008

Don't look at the Moon!

This is post I am copying from Bawa, a briliant Art of Living teacher. This is what he said..

On the day (night) of Ganesh Chathurti, we are warned not to look at the moon... Mythology says that if you look at the moon on this night, then you will get blamed for something you didn't do!

So don't look at the moon!!!

This particular belief sounds quite odd... What if the rays of the moon touch you? Will you still get blamed? If you look at the reflection of the moon in water: You are not looking up at the sky, you are looking down and there it is... in the puddle of water! What then?!

Well, at least this Ganesh Chathurti, we in Bangalore Ashram were spared from the naughtiness of the moon... the sky was overcast and there was no chance to see the moon... but no one was taking any chances, everyone was walking about focused intently on the ground :)

Is there some deeper meaning to this? You bet there is!

The moon symbolizes the mind... Just as the moon waxes and wanes, the mind goes up and down... Some days it makes you feel good, other times it can drag you down into the pits of despair for the smallest of reasons... The mind is what constantly gets you into trouble...

Ganesha is the Lord of Wisdom and it is He who teaches us how to get over the vagrancies of the mind, how to be established firmly in Knowledge and let nothing shake us out from the Bliss of the Being. And so on the day when we are going to celebrate Lord Ganesha, we don't look at the moon... meaning Follow Knowledge, not your little mind!

Don't look at the moon! Don't let that small mind of yours rule you... Be in Knowledge, Be wise, Be happy!

Brilliant, isn't it??

September 4, 2008

Gems from Yes Minister

I have always been a huge fan of Yes Minister. I was doing some digging of some old Word files and here's a small peek of best bits of YM. They are so relevant even amongst today's politicians and civil servants

Bernard's Longest sentence...

Apparently, the fact that you needed to know was not known at the time that the now known need to know was known, therefore those that needed to advise and inform the Home Secretary perhaps felt the information he needed as to whether to inform the highest authority of the known information was not yet known and therefore there was no authority for the authority to be informed because the need to know was not, at that time, known or needed.

Sir Humphrey's longest sentence...

Well, it's clear that the committee has agreed that your new policy is a really excellent plan but in view of some ofthe doubts being expressed, may I propose that I recall that after careful consideration, the considered view of the committee was that while they considered that the proposal met with broad approval in principle, that some of the principles were sufficiently fundamental in principle and some of the considerations so complex and finely balanced in practice, that, in principle, it was proposed that the sensible and prudent practice would be to submit the proposal for more detailed consideration, laying stress on the essential continuity of the new proposal with existing principles, and the principle of the principle arguments which the proposal proposes and propounds for their approval, in principle.

This file contains the complete set of available papers except for:

  1. a small number of secret documents
  2. a few documents which are part of still active files
  3. some correspondence lost in the flood of 1967
  4. some records which went astray in the move to London
  5. other records that went astray when the War Office was incorporated into the Ministry of Defence.
  6. the normal withdrawl of papers whose publication could give grounds for an action for libel or breach of confidence or cause embarrassment to friendly governments.

This was not a cover was responsible discretion exercised in the national interest to prevent unnecessary disclosure of eminently justifiable procedures in which untimely revelation would severely impair public confidence. This was not a cover was responsible discretion exercised in the national interest to prevent unnecessary disclosure of eminently justifiable procedures in which untimely revelation would severely impair public confidence.

Sir Humphrey's System for stalling- Creative Inertia

Stage 1- Humphrey will say that the administration is in its early months and there's an awful lot of other things to get on with.

Stage 2- ...Humphrey will say"...something certainly ought to be done- but is this the right way to achieve it?"

Stage 3- "Minister, this is not the time, for all sorts of reasons."

Stage 4- Humphrey will say that the policy has run into difficulties- technical, political and/or legal. Legal are the best because they can be made totally incomprehensible and can go on for ever.

Stage 5- The first four stages have taken up to three years and the last stage is to say that we are getting too close to a general election and we can't be sure of getting the policy through.

Three Types of Civil Service Silence-

1. Discreet Silence: The silence when they do not want to tell you the facts.

2. Stubborn Silence: The silence when they do not intend to take any action.

3. Courageous Silence: The silence when you catch them out and they haven't a leg to stand on.

Significance of the Ganesha Form & Ganesh Tatwa

After a break, I am back to posting on the blog; what can be a better way than to start on Ganesh Chaturthi

Ganesha's head symbolizes the Atman or the soul, which is the ultimate supreme reality of human existence, and his human body signifies Maya or the earthly existence of human beings. The elephant head is supposed to denote wisdom and its trunk represents Om, the sound symbol of cosmic reality. In his upper right hand Ganesha holds a goad, which helps him propel mankind forward on the eternal path and remove obstacles from the way. The noose in Ganesha's left hand is a gentle implement to capture all difficulties.
The broken tusk that Ganesha holds like a pen in his lower right hand is a symbol of sacrifice, which he broke for writing the Mahabharat. The rosary in his other hand suggests that the pursuit of knowledge should be continuous. The laddoo (sweet) he holds in his trunk indicates that one must discover the sweetness of the Atman. His fan-like ears convey that he is all ears to our petition. The snake that runs round his waist represents energy in all forms. And he is humble enough to ride the lowest of creatures, a mouse.

H.H. Sri Sri Ravi Shankarji has given a beautiful explanation of Ganesh Tatwa...

The essence of Ganeshji is brought out beautifully by Adi Shankara. Though Ganeshji is worshiped as the elephant-headed God, the form (swaroop) is just to bring out its parabrahma roopa. Ganeshji is described as Ajam Nirvikalpam Niraakaaramekam. This means that Ganeshji is never born.
He is Ajam (unborn), he is Niraakaar (formless) and he is Nirvikalpa (attributeless). Ganeshji symbolises the consciousness which is omnipresent. Ganeshji is the same energy which is the reason for this universe, from which everything is manifested and it's the same energy in which the whole world will be dissolved. Ganeshji is not somewhere outside of us, but the very centre of our life. But this is very subtle knowledge. Not everybody can perceive the formless without the form. Our ancient Rishis and Munis knew this; so they created the form for the benefit and understanding of people at all levels.
Those who can't experience the formless, over a period of sustained experience of manifested form reach the formless Brahman.
So in reality, Ganeshji is formless; yet there is a form to which Adi Shankara prayed and that form carries the message of the formlessness of Ganeshji. Thus, the form serves as the starting point and gradually the formless consciousness begins to manifest.
Ganesh Chaturthi marks a unique art of reaching formless Paramatma called Lord Ganesh by repeated worship of the manifest form of Ganesha.
Even the Ganesh Stotram, the prayers recited in the praise of Ganeshji, conveys the same. We pray to Ganeshji in our consciousness to come out and sit in the idol for us for a while so that we can play with him. And after the puja, we again pray asking him to go back to where he comes from; that's our consciousness. While he is in the idol, we offer back whatever God has given us through the puja of the idol.
The ritual of immersing (visaran) the idols after few days of worship reinforces the understanding that God is not in the idol, it's inside us. So experiencing the omnipresent in the form and deriving joy out of the form is the essence of the Ganesha Chaturthi festival. In a way such organized festivity and worships lead to an upsurge in enthusiasm and devotion.
Ganeshji is the lord of all the good qualities in us. So when we worship him, all the good qualities will blossom in us. He is also the lord of knowledge and wisdom. Knowledge dawns only when we become aware of the Self. When there is inertia, there is no knowledge, no wisdom, nor is there any liveliness (Chaitanya) or progress in life. So the consciousness has to be awakened and the presiding deity of consciousness is Ganeshji. That’s why before every puja, the Lord Ganesha is worshiped to awaken the consciousness.
Therefore, install the idol, worship it with infinite love, meditate and experience Lord Ganesha from within. This is the symbolic essence of Ganesh Chaturti festival, to awaken the Ganesha tatva which is masked inside us.

July 28, 2008

A Beautiful Mind

I only recently saw ‘A Beautiful Mind’ - a Ron Howard film with brilliant lead role by Russell Crowe.

I simply loved the movie. It had a nice mix of general college banter, witty humor, and some very poignant moments. What particularly struck me, as the most telling scene was the dialogue spoken by Dr. Rosen. “Imagine if you suddenly learned that the people, the places, the moments most important to you were not gone, not dead, but worse, had never been. What kind of hell would that be?”

It made me understand people battling the kind of condition much better. John Nash is an intelligent mathematician and the film is based on his life and how he copes with Schizophrenia. The movie is brilliantly taken and all the emotions he goes through and his wife Alicia are handled beautifully. I have newfound admiration for Russell Crowe; much credit goes to him for superb portrayal of Prof. John Nash.
I think many will agree that the acceptance speech on receiving his Nobel is the most touching scene in the movie. Its a 2001 release and many of you may have seen it but those who haven’t, pick it up the next time you head to the DVD library.

July 4, 2008

Blinding flash of the Obvious

Alright, this post is a little heavy reading. Its about a deep experience I had some seven years ago..

As Hindus, we are all familiar with four different paths or margas to Moksh, namely, Bhakti, Karma, Gnana, and Raja, and that one can opt to pursue any of the above, depending on one's inclinations. I was often baffled when I read the Bhagwad Gita that speaks of one path being superior over the other three, and then later recommends another path in a different context. While there are obvious benefits that our commentaries are full of contradictions (it accommodates all viewpoints and therefore very inclusive in philosophy), (un)fortunately, this gives us

• ample food for thought,
• stimulates the mind into reflection
• gives each one an option, thereby space and freedom

but also confuses and forces the mind to decide a particular path. Most of us can relate to a little of each of the four paths; then how does one choose one over the other? Elders in the house often add to the confusion by suggesting that one path follows the other and that their order is also fixed and rigid; some others have chided me for being confused!

I realized the need to decide my own path but didn’t know how. I was therefore totally amazed when one day it came to me as a flash that

"There are no different margas, there is only one; just as there are many forms of Gods and Goddesses under various names, but there is only one God".
They appear to be different, but if man truly follows one path, he is automatically following the other three too; just as "if you are a true Christian/ Muslim, it follows that you are also a true Hindu". Since it is so obvious, it follows that it must also be true!

The rational mind also found support for by relating to the lives of some of the great men who lived in our country, namely, Adi Shankaracharya, Gyanasamandar, Meerabai, Ramakrishna Paramahans, Thyagaraja, Shri Aurobindo etc. All these great saints practiced all the four margas simultaneously. I am fortunate to have found a Guru in H.H. Sri Sri Ravi Shankar whose life completely validates this theory.

Let me elaborate with an example; lets take the life of one of them, say Adi Shankaracharya; he wrote the commentaries on the Brahmasutras, Gita and single handedly unified the highly divisive Hindu community of his time - he practiced the path of Karma marga. He simultaneously, on more occasions than one, showed the path of total surrender to God, which gives man the strength to face the world without fear. He wrote Bhaja Govindam which extols the virtues of chanting God's name - he practiced the path of Bhakti marga. He also held debates and won over all the contemporary scholars and philosophers by his sheer brilliance and clarity in thought - he practiced the path of Gyana marga. He travelled far and wide under difficult and hostile terrain, only because he had total control of his physical body and kept his body amenable for travel - he practiced the path of Raja marga.

Likewise, think of all the great souls you have heard or read about, different languages they spoke maybe, but each one would have practiced all the four margas simultaneously. This theory is probably not new to some people but appears to be quite different from those that one comes across at various discourses and satsangs.

This theory that all the margas are indeed one has brought great restfulness to my mind as I am no longer confused about which path I am in:-).

Ok, those of you who managed to read this far, I would love to hear your comments.

July 1, 2008

The fine print in Dasavatharam: reading between the lines

A number of people don't seem to get the subtler details of the movie Dasavatharam. I got this as an e mail forward and it kind of captures the details for those who didn't get it.

If you knew the real Dasavatharams of Lord Vishnu and their characters you can appreciate the script more.
Let me explain, starting with the best adapted role:

1. Krishna avatar - Vincent Poovaraghavan
Lord krishna is actually a dalit, he is dark-skinned [shyamalam]. He saved draupadi when she was being violated and he was the actual diplomat in mahabharatham. Lord krishna dies of an arrow striking his lower leg. Now look at how vincent was introduced.. he appears when asin is about to be molested and he saves her like draupadi. Vincent is the dalit diplomat, fights for land issue [soil issue to be exact] and dies from the metal rod striking his leg. Oh even five of vincent's men are drugged at P. Vasu's.. sounds familiar???

2. Balarama avatar - Balaram Naidu
This is an easy given. as the name suggests and the role personifies you can easily get it.

3. Mathsya avatar - Ranagaraja Nambi
nambi is thrown into water in an act of trying to save lord from being thrown into sea, though vainly. what more clue do you want?

4. Varaha avatar - Krishnaveni Paatti
During the mukunda song, krishnaveni paatti does varaha avatar in the shadow puppetry. The frame freezes on it for a second. there is the clue. Moreover, in varaha avatar lord actually hides earth so as to protect life forms. Here too krishnaveni hides the germs - life form inside the statue so as to protect.

5. Vamana avatar - Kalifulla Khan
remember in vamana avatar, lord vishnu takes the vishvaroopa, that is the giant form! Hence the giant kalifulla here symbolises vamana avatar.

6. Parasurama avatar - Christian Fletcher
Parasurama is actually on an angry killing spree and killed 21 generations of the particular kshatriya vamsa. Hence the real KILLER... Guess what thats what our Fletcher is! He comes around with the gun [modern upgrade for axe] and kills everyone around. I have to check if he kills 21 people though

7. Narasimha avatar - Shingen Narahashi
first of all the name itself is a play on the words singam [means lion in tamil] and narasimha [the avatar being symbolised]. Lord Narasimha manifests himelf to kill the bad guy and he also teaches prahaladha. In the movie, he shows up to kill the killer fletcher! and is also a teacher.. Lord Narasimha had to kill the asura with bare hands and hence the martial arts exponent here.. get it?

8. Rama avatar - Avatar Singh
Lord Rama stands for the one man one woman maxim, kind of symbolising true love.. Here Avatar portrays that spirit by saying that he loves his woman more than anything and wants to live for her.

9. Kalki avatar - Govindaraj Ramasamy
As you know, the hero in kaliyug can be none other than the Kalki avatar!!!

10. Koorma avatar - George Bush
This is the most loose adaptation I couldn't clearly comprehend. But if you look at the real koorma avatar, the lord is the turtle/tortoise that helps in stirring the ksheera sagara and bringing out the amruth. This essentially creates war among the devas and asuras. Similarly today Bush facilitates war between you know whom... May be Kamal also indicates that this avatar is a bit dumb like the tortoise...

June 24, 2008


Lot of us get to read Top 10 or 100 movies of the year or All time Top 100 movies.. Well, this post is a little different.. Here is my list of Top 10 movies that come to my mind as I set out to do this post today. So, these are not necessarily the 'Top 10' movies but movies that have a lasting impression on me

Sound of Music
Shawshank Redemption
Roman Holiday
Ben Hur
Lord of the Rings
Taare Zameen Par
For a few Dollars more
Battle of the Bulge

The list does look quite 'eclectic', but most of these are movies I've watched more than once and have been amazed at how involved and entertaining they were each time. if any of you haven't seen these, you must go watch them right away.

June 23, 2008


Finally got to see the movie Dasavatharam. Reviews were not good and lot of people gave me all kinds of stories on how disconnected the 10 roles were and etc.. I decided to see for myself and I must say I am glad I did that. Kamal Haasan makes intelligent movies and its a treat to watch some of them.. they don't necessarily do well in box office but are entertaining alright. Hey Ram was one such film.

I am not going to give you the usual review - plot, story etc. Read standard review sites for that:). What struck me most with Dasavatharam was the details.. they were there, so subtle but there for the discerning viewer to note. And then again, the casual viewer can skip the details and still enjoy the movie for the apparent story. So, its a movie made with enormous intelligence, for all kinds of viewers. For the believer, he will come back with a very powerful feeling that the movie demonstrates the presence of a Super Power, God. Yet, an atheist can come out of the theatre feeling the bang opposite. Such a beautiful display of excellence in weaving a complicated story of Chaos theory with the theory of Karma from Hinduism, blended so perfectly. And still very contemporary... An enormous task that only Kamal Haasan can handle with aplomb and style. The details were things like showing the mangrove swamp through which the idol is taken before being immersed into the sea, which is the route from the temple at Chidambaram. Later, the scenes were all events that happened in and around this town. In any other movie, this detail would not be given much importance. And right through, right from the names of the 10 roles, they all had a comparable relevance with the Epic Purana.
All in all, its a must see for any viewer of Tamil films. I would end by saying that its an amazing story of a very complex theory captured in a three hour movie

June 18, 2008


There are two things that I need clarity on and I am sure there are a lot many people like me, confused.
1. Inflation: Not a day passes without any of us Indians hearing the word ‘inflation’. Newspapers, TV channels, magazines vie with each other to capture our attention with screaming headlines on this topic. And then I hear a financial expert being interviewed on CNBC the other day and she said with conviction, “Inflation is actually good”. Now I was taken aback. Since I was passing by the room when this statement was made, it made absolutely no sense to me. But this lady is some financial expert which is why she is being interviewed on prime time, so while I cannot dismiss her statement I would like somebody to explain this to me.
2. Dollar vs Rupee: A couple of months back, the dollar weakened against the rupee and the papers were full of all kinds of apprehensions about the economy getting hit and profit margins of IT sector getting affected. But my point was always that our exports are negligible in terms of our imports. Our crude imports are so high that a weak dollar should be good for the country!! (we will be paying less for the same quantity of crude) Do I make sense?
But the economists and so called knowledgeable community think otherwise. So much so, that finally, RBI intervened and stabilized the $ at levels they thought were good for the country. Can somebody please explain this mystery to me?? Why should a strong dollar be good for India??

May 5, 2008

Food (In)Security

I am shocked to read the President of USA repeat what his Senior aide Ms. Condoleeza Rice had to say on the resons for the current food shortage facing the World. The politicians in India, particularly the Opposition and Left are demanding a statement from the PM. My point is slightly different. While Mr. Bush has no business to tell us or the World what to eat or not eat, his remark on the causes of food shortage is so superficial that it lacks any research or depth. For the benefit of those of who missed reading his remarks, this is what he said. He says 250 million people in India (the middle class) have more purchasing power and are demanding better nutrition due to increased prosperity in the region.

I have serious facts / questions that have been overlooked by the President of USA that I would like to highlight:
  • Yes, India is a large consumer of foodgrains, but, most of this is internally produced. Neither our exports nor imports are significant to cause change in food prices in the World markets!! (we only export Basmati rice which is not consumed by the middle class, anyways. We import negligible amounts of wheat, that has happened these past 2 years, thanks to our mis management)
  • What does Mr. President have to say about the cost of crude that is now at 120$ a barrel? In my opinion this is the single biggest cause of rise in food grains, as rise in fuel prices have the biggest cascading effect on all goods and services.
  • Definitely, the use of biofuels has contributed to price rise. Ms. Condoleeza Rice atleast acknowledged the role of biofuels in further hiking of food prices. However, the President of USA does not think so!! I am so glad that the EU is doing a re think on enforcing its biofuel use.
  • Agriculture has been given the least attention and yields have plateaued in almost all crops. Instead of addressing this issue by investing in R & D and implement better agricultural practices, it is shocking to read careless, irresponsible statements from Heads of powerful countries.

Having raised these issues, I must also admit that Indians - scientists, farmers, policy makers need to address the issue of declining yields in crops and unviable agriculture, as practised by majority of Indian farmers. The situation is serious enough for all stakeholders to implement a new plan for an enabling environment for farmers to pursue crop cultivation and to bring in a new generation of farmers who would like to take to farming as a profitable venture. This is the direction we need to take to be self sufficient. If we do this now, we can thank Mr. George Bush for getting us out of the slumber we are in!!

April 29, 2008

Cricketers are a highly pampered lot in India

The incident post match between Punjab and Mumbai is despicable and that's probably an understatement! Like many Indians, I too wonder if he deserved all the support and sympathy we so gladly offered early this year, in Australia. While we can do nothing about the past, I am sure we can do something now. For a start, a 11 match ban is a very lenient one. He can plead guilty, apologise, hug Sreesanth, never mind. An action as shameful as this, cannot be condoned and let off so lightly. You see, if it were a case of physical abuse, do you realise what the ramifications will be? We would all want a full trial and the accused be punished even if he pleads guilty. Why, then, a different treatment for cricketers? Are they a cut above us, mortals? This, in my opinion is a very soft signal to the players, some of whom require detailed sessions on decorum to be maintained during and after play. Cricket is the number one sport that the citizens of this country looks up to, cricketers enjoy the adulation and praise when they do well, they might as well learn the wrath of Indians when they fail and don't live up to expectations. Its time, we Indians show them 'zero tolerance' for such behavior. BCCI, can you hear the voice of so many Indians?

April 25, 2008

Earth's Magnetic Field & Suicides

Like many Indians, I've been concerned and curious about the spate of suicides in certain pockets of our country. When I probed further, I found very interesting facts. Crop failure or money lenders were not the cause!! There was something to do with the place! I know you may think me to be out of my mind, but believe me, I have some hard facts to support me. Apparently, these very districts in Vidarbha region of Maharashtra, some districts in Andhra Pradesh and Kerala have had suicides even in the 1890s when there were no such social ills or GM crops to blame the suicides on...
I also had the opportunity to listen to the Director General of IFPRI a couple of months ago, on the same subject. He had an even more incredulous fact! He said, from the World data they have access to, the maximum suicides were from developed, super rich countries. Apparently, Canada tops the list and he said India is not anywhere close! He explained saying that suicides are a very complex phenomenon and there are many many factors that play a role. This got me thinking and more curious.
Today, I got to read the story on the New Scientist. The latest theory is that a number of intriguing studies have found a link between peaks in geomagnetism and either suicide rates or depression. This probably explains my earlier finding of 'something to do with the place'
Check the link for the full story
Maybe we are close to getting to the bottom of the problem.

April 21, 2008


Ofcourse, I too have been victim of the IPL bug! Its all very well, everyone needs to make money and budding and retiring players need opportunities! and all that bla bla.. But I wonder what the cheerleaders are doing there?? Is any player watching them? Are the people on the stands watching them, I wonder! We, at home have no option but to watch the weird jigs these cheer leaders do when the TV crew train their cameras on them. To put it plainly, they look comical and completely out of place! If they want to entertain crowds during the innings break, its still understandable.. but after a four or six, one would like a replay or the strategy for the field placements rather than this absurdity. Am I alone here or do I voice the opinion of aam aadmi?

April 18, 2008

Spur of the Moment

The constant news on inflation this past month got me thinking about people who have retired and I wondered how they cope. And suddenly it struck me that Insurance companies can develop policies to address this issue. I am not sure if its practical but can be fine tuned by economists ( and I am not one! ). The idea is like this... an individual maybe given an option to give his monthly requirements (grocery /fuel / vegetables /fruits) and the Insurance company can give a policy to meet these demands. This will ensure adequate safety for the policy holder against inflation and the insurance company will anyway benefit through the premia collected. I sounded this out to an expert who thought it was quite original:-). Any Insurance guys out there reading this post can suggest this as a possible product and don't forget to acknowledge me for the IP. Hahaha.

April 17, 2008


I have been wanting to blog for a while now... here I am atlast! As I see it, I will be blogging on current affairs, a little philosophy and some issues concerning scientific advances, mainly related to Implications in Biotechnology. So, look out for posts on these topics and leave your comments.