August 27, 2010

Good Jokes

There two jokes that I would like to share here...

1. The day the Lok Sabha (Indian Parliament) passed the Nuclear Liability Bill, news channels were abuzz with the news and busy getting bytes from those who mattered. At one point, Arnab Goswami from Times Now shared a good joke... He said, "The congress found it easier to amend the bill and take BJP's support to pass the bill in Lok Sabha, can't say same from their own Minister, Jairam Ramesh" :-)

2. This is joke of today... The Primer Minister, Shri Manmohan Singh, inaugurated a meeting with Heads of Missions from different countries and he said, "India, by and large, has good relations with her neighbours. We were engaging them without looking at reciprocity, in our own enlightened interest"

Isn't the second joke terribly funny?? Our record with Nepal, Pakistan, Sri Lanka, Bangladesh, China is at an all time low... What do you think he had in his mind when he said this?? Perhaps he lives in the past or future - 100 years ago or later:)

I am proud of Vada Pav:)

Having grown up in Aamchi Mumbai it is but natural to like Vada Pav. Strangely, no other city has caught on to this snack. I mean other snack items and chaats have now mushroomed in every big city in India but Vada Pav is quite confined to Mumbai.

I have since moved on to many other cities before settling down in Chennai and miss my Vada Pav dearly. So, I am quite thrilled to read about the latest avatar of Vada Pav. Please read more about it here.

Recently, I was at a wedding reception in Bangalore and they had Vada Pav and I gorged on it. I am sure there will be many takers for Vada Pav in Chennai. Chennai has now become more welcoming to different cuisines and many exclusive joints serving Thai /Mexican/Lebanese/Korean/Italian dot the skyline here.

Can't wait for Goli Vada Pav to set shop in Chennai... Is Venky Iyer listening?

We will be like this only!

I refer to the latest controversy surrounding bauxite mining by the Vedanta group in Orissa. Although I know very little of the technical aspects of the proposal, it is evident that the Environment Ministry's action has nothing to do with the technical specifications / guidelines, rather to do with vote bank politics.

Two days prior to the rejection by the ministry itself, there were reports that Rahul Gandhi would be visiting Orissa and the tribals at Niyamgiri hills and rejection of Vedanta's mining proposal was a foregone conclusion. So, Congress is already in election mode, they are trying to woo the tribals and get their votes... So, it pays the Congress to keep them in poverty and if possible keep them as tribals forever, else, their winning in Orissa is at jeopardy. How typical!

Although vote bank poilitics is not new to anybody in India, it however shocks me when its as blatant as this, and at the cost of development, in that region. Will we never grow up?? Is there no hope?? How hypocritical it is when our government makes speeches from Red Fort and where have you, on how serious they are about dealing with naxalism and maoists!! On the contrary, isn't this action nurturing and supporting the movement?

I am hugely disappointed with Rahul Gandhi. I really thought he was different, and was well meaning, and had the country's interests ahead of the party's... All my hopes are dashed, as Wooster would have said:)

I want reforms in our political system. This is one reform no current MP will support!

Azim Premji - one of my heroes

One of the leading business heads who I admire and idolize is Azim Premji. What particularly endears me is his simplicity, frugality, inspite of his accomplishments and contributions to nation building and job creation, and ofcourse, his personal wealth. He has been a silent statesman unlike many of his peers and never talks out of turn. But yesterday, he chose to speak out against the Commonwealth Games, in the Times of India. Those of you who didn't read it, please see the link to his article. There is a certain respect for him and when he decides to speak out, I am sure policy makers will sit up and listen. Its time, Indian policy makers take hard decisions, rather than playing to the gallery or succumbing to vote bank politics. These have cost India dear and we cannot afford to continue in this manner. I am really glad to see people like Azim Premji speak, loud and clear. We need to hear these people and take action.

In the article, he has very nicely brought out the burning issues plaguing our country and the need to prioritise. While he agrees its not black and white and not easy for the government to decide one project over the other, he very clearly mentions that lack of amenities for budding sportsmen, and lack of education in many districts of India, is a serious concern. Hosting a sporting extravaganza is not exactly in keeping with the reality India is in, currently.

I particularly admire Azim Premji for his vision to concentrate on primary education for the economically challenged. His foundation is really touching the lives of thousands of children and teachers in rural Karnataka, to make a difference to the quality of education. This, in my opinion is priceless contribution to nation building. Kudos to him and may he inspire many more to follow his path of silent transformation of rural India!

August 23, 2010

Opposite values are Complementary, indeed!

I had the most unique experience of getting ready and pack up to catch an early morning train, only to find out that my ticket was waitlisted and couldn't board!! I couldn't believe it, I have heard many people recount such experiences but I have never faced this before... Its just too disappointing, imagine not being able to do the work you set out out for the day, and that too on a monday morning!! And I woke up early, cooked and completed morning chores only to find that I have to go back home.. It was very difficult to be there on the platform and watch the train depart with you standing with your bag:(. And the agent who promised you the ticket refusing to take your call:(. I was thoroughly disappointed and despondent.

Realising I had to get on with the day, I got out of the station to hail an auto. But to my delight, there was a AC bus, part of local public transport that was waiting at the bus stop. This bus stops bang opposite my house! I jumped in like a child and chose my seat. It was empty, save for another gentleman. This is my first bus ride in more than 11 years in the city and its my first ever ride in an AC bus:). I was so thrilled with the experience that I almost forgot the disappointment of not getting on the train! 

As H.H.Sri Sri Ravi Shankar often says, opposite values are complementary, two sides of the same coin.  

August 12, 2010

Thank God for Supreme Court in India!

I would rather have the Supreme Court govern the country than the politicians:-). Offlate, the Supreme Court seems to be pulling up the government and getting sense into their heads. This is a very good thing, only I wonder if they will then have very little time to hear the pending cases of undertrials languishing in various prisons across the country.

I refer to today's judgement by SC to distribute the food grains to the hungry, "free". I am so glad to see this news. Its such a stupid ironical twist to see rotting grains in godowns that no one will use and >250 million hungry mouths simultaneously co-existing in the country... Can we do anything more stupid?

All these years, the political class and officials hid behind the term, "buffer stocks" and justified the rotting grains in godowns. Today, with a hyper active media watching and having free access, the pitiable state of our godowns and warehouses and the inefficiencies of the Food Corporation of India have been completely exposed. I wonder why we cannot have privatisation in these sectors. Why can't business houses get into storage and distribution of food grains in the country. PDS can work closely with private firms and ensure optimum distribution than it exists now.

In my opinion, reform in post harvest technologies and logistics is going to be critical for India in the coming years. Else, all the toil by farmers and contributions from agricultural institutions will come to naught and we will only see rising food prices and more shortages. 

August 11, 2010

The month that went by

I have been quite irregular in posts lately... Not that there is any dearth of topics to write about, just didn't find enough time to collect my thoughts.. So, here goes... wrap up of the month that went by..

I was terribly aghast and horrified to note that the Census has decided to club beggars, housewives and prostitutes under the "economically non-productive" category!! The Supreme Court, rightly, has not taken this well and has questioned the authorities responsible for this. Believe me, I am no feminist, woman activist, nor the housewife, in any sense of the term, but this is the most derogatory, offensive abuse a woman in India can be subjected to... But what beats me is the complete lack of attention in the media, who otherwise are quite adept at making mountains out of molehills. And where have all the women activists, women rights' forum, etc doing?

As expected, the scams surroundings various contracts awarded in the Commonwealth Games hogs the news channels these days. We just don't get to hear about the Indian contingent and their preparations and chances at medals etc.. Isn't this funny? But then I guess its going the IPL-way... Media and public are more interested in Lalit Modi and Sharad Pawar's wheeler dealings and court room action, than on players and teams... And after a point, they forget and corrupt officials get away with this "short term public memory", just like politicians do.

There are a number of movies I want to watch, Inception, Peepli Live, are top in the list..

August 1, 2010

(Un)Commonwealth Games - The Indian Version

Here's a welcome to all athletes who have bravely accepted to participate in the Games in New Delhi. Its going to be an experience for everyone, from organizers to participants to citizens of the city. Indians always take things in their stride, I mean very lightly. I wonder what the fuss is about?? We Indians travel in filthy trains and buses everyday to work, ditto for our roads that are littered, not to mention the overflowing garbage! And all our roads will put any obstacle race to shame anyway. Where is the security for the aam aadmi as he/she gets to work/school and back?? Where is the quality in terms of stay, transport, amenities etc for any Indian? But then, I am told, all the fuss is for our foreign delegates!!

Ah, how we love to fawn at the sight of white skin, makes me squirm..... I wonder how much longer it would take us to shake this legacy since British rule.. Getting back to the games, there are critics other than Mani Shankar Aiyer deriding the amount we are spending on hosting the event, instead, it could have been spent on developing world class infrastructure for the sporting fraternity across the country, they argue.. Well come on, such things can be debated forever. What about our many fancy missions? We spends crores on a mission to send man to the moon? Is this really required?? Critics can say we can first invest in developing decent aircrafts and not have to lease from Airbus & Boeing:-). Socialists will say, remove poverty and hunger first and then send people to the Moon!

Getting back to the CWG in India, what is unfortunate is the rampant corruption in awarding contracts and misuse of money. To start with, we can have office bearers with fixed tenure with no more than one or terms, in office. Since I can remember, its always been Suresh Kalmadi at the helm of the Sports affairs in the country. Surely there are many more people who are as qualified or more to take over! If we can overhaul our bureaucracy in appointments, and have transparency and professionalism of Sports Organizers and Coaches in our country, we will see more medals. There is certainly no dearth of talent in our country.

We are barely weeks to the event now, cancelling it will be as much an embarassment as holding it!! In my opinion, things have to happen simultaneously, we need to invest in the Moon mission and address the pressing problems of poverty and unemployment and rising prices!! And if possible, host the Olympics too:-)