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