March 31, 2010

Nice trends

Very often we get into the mode of how things were great in the past and not so anymore etc etc.. you know what I mean.. But I wanted to share some good services that I am now seeing that was non-existent before. There is a very convenient service that I availed of recently - a house cleaning company. They do a thorough job of cleaning the place inside out. Had a place locked up for years and I was dreading the cleaning operation!! I plan to do it for our current home too, once a quarter... Saves us the hassle of buying different cleaning solutions and implements, not to mention the time and energy!!

I also have signed up for an AMC for the car! There are these professional cleaners who come and do a thorough job on the car - interiors and exteriors. I have long wanted to use rubbing / wax polish on the car as my dad used to do decades ago... but I never had the time! Now, these guys spend ~ 2 hours on the car every month, vaccuming, shampooing and polishing and finally silicon and uv coat the car!! (whatever that means). They did that today on the car and I feel really good:-). Here's to these new convenient services that makes our life so easy - or lazy??

March 30, 2010


I have this rather Utopian idea that I think can be made realistic and practical with some fine tuning:-). In the light of growing food shortage that may assume a crisis-like situation in our country, and increasing change from turning agricultural land to SEZ etc., I propose this rather simple idea ( not as simple to implement though:-)

Nationalized banks to a large extent buffered India from the global meltdown, similarly, each state must, rather, earmark some percentage of their farming land to be brought under Government Management. We can use the NREGS for farm labour and practice agriculture. With all due credit, NREGS is a rather inflationary measure and the output is practically zero. Instead, the government can buy the land from willing farmers for agriculture, for starters. Ah yes, there is a huge danger of complacency and lack of accountability, in this proposal!! This has to be plugged:-).

This move may stem the move to convert arable land from getting into SEZ mode to SAZ (Special Agricultural Zones). This will allow the government to decide appropriate crops for the region with land suitability mapping data.

Would love comments /ideas from readers of the post:-)

March 29, 2010


I recently was exposed to detailed information on the fertlilizer tree, Faidherbia albida. This tree, a native of Africa, seems to have attractive properties that can be a boost to agro forestry. One, its a tree, so it does not need to be grown and cut like we need to for Sesbania. Two, it sheds its leaves that serves as mulch for the crops, at the onset of monsoon. Three, its a nitrogen fixer and so replenishes nitrogen and the leaves threfore serve as fertlizers. Four, by shedding leaves for 3 /4 months in a year, the tree is in semi hibernation mode and therefore does not compete with the crops, for nutrition, light etc. So, it seems to have all the requisite qualities for agroforestry.

Amazing, isn't it? Apparently, its a tree that was used traditionally, but had over period of time, lost out to trends. There is  now a reversal of trend as with every sphere and people are now going back to using this tree in their farms. Apparently, considerable data is now available with us to validate this traditonal conservation agriculture, in terms of increased yields in maize /millet / cotton crop that had these trees in their farms.

I am truly fascinated by this tree and is further confirmation of the Beauty in this Creation

IPL - Version 3

Well, its two weeks of this hyped up sporting event called IPL - 3. Well, I have been following it from afar and it clearly seems to have gotten bigger and better... there will be two teams from next year, we are told. The two new team owners seem to have committed an astronomical sum to buy the fanchisee. I do wonder, if it makes any economic sense!! I agree with Lalit Modi when he said, there is no recession in IPL:-).

Unlike past years, this IPL season has more Indian players than before, in the playing 11. This is obviously good for the Indian boys, except the fatigue factor, as we prepare for Twenty20 World Cup next month end. Ah yes!, we've had surprises galore, in these weeks... And Sachin seems to be in amazing form... I have always been a die-hard fan of Sachin but I think, today, he has far fewer critics than he did 2 years ago. I thought it was rather uncharitable by Santosh Desai to attribute this tremendous form of Sachin, to his Stars, in the TOI today!!!

We ought to give him credit, when its due.. Although I quite don't like Saurav, I had to admit his spirit when he clawed his way back into the National Squad 3/4 years back when he was unceremoniously dropped.

From how it looks so far, MI and RR seem to have got the momentum and will definitely make it to the final four. The others, barring CSK and XI seem to have a fair chance to make it to the final four. CSK has been a huge disappointment, this season.


A couple of years ago, TV advts far outscored audio advts on radio (atleast, I preferred the TV advts;-)). Not so anymore, save the Vodafone Zoozoos on TV, there are quite a number of audio advts that catch my eye.. The K7 advertisements on protecting online frauds are good. But the recent brilliant advts on radio are the ones by Uninor.. nicely made, I must say... I heard two of them and will reproduce it for readers' benefit. I heard them in tamil and I must say the English translation may not be as outstanding.... Apparently, the meaning of their logo is "Change".. They sure have changed advertisements on the radio:-)

Conversation of a flat/house owner to a prospective tenant....
Owner to tenant: I have a taken a great liking to you, so, I will waive off the advance! Only add Rs 2000/- to the amount every month on your cheque:-)...
And car parking is totally free! Its open and on the road, down the kerb:-)
And you don't need to pay any money for the electricity! Simply make the payment online:-)
And it says, life is like this, most often, with conditions and riders to everything. But at Uninor...

The second one is between 2 good friends
One friend to the other: I can give my life for you, won't I give you my vehicle? Here, take it, just be careful and don't speed because the break doesn't work:-).. Also, please fuel up as there is no petrol:-). And most importantly, don't use the main road as the vehicle has no papers:-). And it says, life is like this, most often, with conditions and riders to everything. But at Uninor...

March 23, 2010

Misplaced enthusiasm or can I say Misplaced activism!

I am sure very many of us come across such kind of people in our lives, at work, home, maybe even neighbours. They can be quite stupid, you know:-). There is a tree in bloom, in our appartment and its branch is just above my car. The pollen from these flowers leave a sticky mark on the glass and is extremely hard to clean as they seem to be laden with lipids (yes, lots of cholesterol, don't know if its HDL or LDL:-)). If I request the branch to be cut, there is resistance from a neighbour who claims its not to be touched and its a medicinal plant:-) and its apparently emitting some ions to purify the place. For Pete's sake, all I am asking is the branch to be cut which is harmless to the tree and actually good for the tree (to be pruned). Reminds me of the AC advt on TV that claims to emit Vit C molecules through its vent:-). Wonder if it has some citrus fruits stocked up inside to do the job. Hahaaa.

I am planning to have a friendly (!!) chat with her soon and explain my reasons... Hopefully, she'll come around, else, I plan to swap car parking space with hers:-). But it set me thinking... why are people so funny? Some years ago, I remember there was a huge hue and cry in the city by these funny people who insisted that trees not be cut while widening roads! In other words, they said, the trees should be allowed to stay in the middle of the road and obstruct traffic!! Then the HC intervened and set up an expert group of plant lovers, historians, botanists to study this and come up with solutions. I was so glad to see this group give very practical solutions. They said, trees were important and good for any city/town but they should be where they can grow well - not in the asphalted roads! they suggested that for every tree felled, 10 new saplings could be planted in a forest area or public park /garden.

This tree in our building grows from a cramped 1 foot space adjoining the compound wall and its branches and roots are on the wall and will definitely weaken the wall in the long run. Besides, it may be a medicinal plant, so what? Are we harvesting the leaves and supplying to some Ayurvedic clinic? It really beats me why a branch of a tree, however useful, cannot be cut.

March 20, 2010

Climate Change in Kerala, for sure!

I went for a very short trip to Kerala over the last weekend. I was shocked to see that it was hotter than Chennai!! This is apparently some very unusual high temperatures for this time of year.. I remember the locals taking pride in their weather and telling me how it stays moderate right through the year and never breaches 35 C. Well, all of them are in a state of shock and have no clue how to manage with this weather. Everyday, newspapers were talking about 5/6 people being affected with sun burns and blisters on their skin and hospitalized!!

We had an amazing early morning darshan (Nirmalya) of Guruvayurappan. It so happenned to be the first day of the Malayalam month and I was again shocked to see a 'sea of people' at 2 am! The discomfort of waiting for ~3 hours and more at that unearthly hour was instantly forgotten after the darshan. We have promised Guruvayurappan to come back for more, but not again on the first day of a malayalam month:-).

We happenned to do some social calls and was pleasantly happy to note the lifestyle of an elderly couple in their late 60s. The wife walked for 4 kms for 4 days in a week for 4 months, to attend a IGNOU certified computer course:-). She is now smart & savvy and on FB and emails her children every other day. Her husband, not to be left out, went for driving classes and is now a proud owner of a driving license at the ripe old age of 70! I salute the spirit and enthusiasm in them. 

March 11, 2010

A Must-See Presentation

Many of you may have seen the presentation by Gurucharan Das on India's future. Those who haven't yet, please do see the lucid ppt, so typical of him, in the link provided. I, for one, am particularly struck by the elegant analysis and comparison of India with China.

The first part of the story traces India's growth so far and it is very heartening to see the patterns in various sectors. And very nicely, he explains where the problems lies - in Governance. If we can set that right, there is truly no stopping India. Even if we don't get the perfect governance ( I am not an Utopian:-)), a marginal improvment by 25% will have dramatic impacts asross all spheres.

After listening to many doomsayers and models that predict anything short of disaster and apocalypse, this comes like a breath of fresh air, to use the cliche

March 9, 2010

Is Reservation the way to Women's Empowerment, Equity?

This Womens' Reservation Bill in the Indian Parliament may get passed in this current Budget session of the Parliament. I am taking no guesses on which way it will go, but, as a woman myself, I am not kicked by this bill. I am a strong votary against reservations anywhere, be it for communities based on caste, religion, gender. My personal view is that reservations serves no purpose it professes to achieve, i.e., Equity.

I am surprised there are many subscribers to this Bill. In my opinion, this Bill is as bad as the Mandal Commission recommending reservations for people based on religion, caste, etc.. Our recent past history shows that reservations have not benefitted the marginalised sections as was expected. Infact, if Dr. Ambedkar were alive today, I am sure he might have rewritten this part of the Constitution. I find it amusing to see many people who were against the Mandal Report, but support the Women's Reservation Bill:-)

Please don't get me wrong, I don't belong to any political party and have no axe to grind. But, if our policy makers were really serious about reducing the discrimination, and bringing gender equity, reservations are surely not the answer. Actually, it may boomerang. This may further anger the male mind set and create hatred where there was none. Gender equity, in my opinion, happens through education. Oh yes, one may argue that in very developed countries with high literacy levels, gender discrimination still continues!!

Yes, we do live in a largely male dominated society, no denying that. But I am positive that Reservations are definitely not the way! Through sustained education at all levels and sheer womens' accomplishments across the world, will automatically make the men sit up and acknowledge when its due. That, in my personal view is true Women Empowerment. As a woman, I would rather my man compliment me for my accomplishments on merit, than by reservations.

Yes, there are harassed women in rural countryside who are discriminated even today, in the most barbric way. Will this bill change the life of such women? My simple answer is No. Most often, the "harassed women" are oppressed by their husbands with active participation of the mother-in-law. Is the mother-in-law not a woman? 

March 5, 2010

Recall bug

Since the beginning of the year each auto major has been recalling some of their models to fix a glitch. While we have all heard of recalls before, never has there been such a spate of recalls all happening together, as in these past 2 months.. Toyota started it, followed by Honda, GM, Maruti, Peugeot and God knows if there are more on this list that I am not aware of!!

Is there more to this than meets the eye?? I somehow suspect it to be the case.. All these majors also insist that none of these are major faults and none of these were brought to their attention by customers but the companies have discovered the flaw and wish to rectify them... This does sound highly improbable... Some of the models being recalled are as old as 3/4 years since they hit the road, how come the companies took this long to discover the glitch, that too, on their own??

There is something distinctly fishy here... Can somebody please throw some light on this matter?