Sunday, February 20, 2005


Imagine a person who is willing to work hard, but however hard he works he is unable to make a living - and his children live on meagre meals. I shudder to think how helpless he would feel looking at his children starving to death. Helplessness is probably the worst feeling one can have - for it questions the very purpose of one's existence.

The next time you read about a farmer's suicide death, dont shove it off as just another statistic. If our economy doesnt provide for any other means of employment in our villages, what other choice does one have? Well, he could choose to migrate to the nearest city in search of opportunities. But that is not a solution - its just another version of the sane problem. Indian cities just CANNOT satisfy the needs of ruralfolk. What we need right now is ideas on how to generate alternative sources of employment for the rural millions and in their villages. Ne ideas on this front?

Saturday, February 19, 2005

Hector Elizondo, Shaktivel & Gopinath

Well, I just finished watching Pretty Woman for the third or fourth time. Cant stop wondering about how wonderfully the screenplay has been written - especially how well the characters of 3 supporting roles (the hotel manager, Vivian's roommate and Edward's lawyer) have been brought out. The best of these three is, undoubtedly, the hotel manager played by Hector Elizondo - the way he handles Vivian, his attempts to get into the good books of Edward initially and the manner in which he drops hints about Vivian to Edward in the penultimate scene.

This reminds me of another movie I recently saw - Kaadhal. As I've mentioned before in this blog, amazing screenplay - realistic n subtle. Its the minute details that make it a great movie - some of which Sridhar has listed here. Kudos to the director Shaktivel.

I'll conclude this piece by generalizing the theory underlying the above examples -
that to succeed in any project, one needs to excel in understanding the details correctly - and not just the broad picture. While this might seem rather obvious to the reader, the reason I mention it here is the impactful manner in which Captain Gopinath described some of his experiences in getting India's first truly low-cost airlines off the ground. This happened a couple of weeks ago when he shared the stage with Henry Mintzberg, and gave gyaan on how he made his dream possible.

Tuesday, February 15, 2005

Al Jazeera rox!

Apparently Al Jazeera is recruiting from Washington DC for its new English-language network. Check it out !!

To quote from the job posting,

"Al Jazeera is the Arab world's most powerful broadcaster, its reputation earned through a visionary and courageous set of journalistic ideals. It has revolutionized regional news coverage, presenting uncensored reporting and open debate.

In November, 2005, Al Jazeera will launch a new English-language international network based in London, Washington, Kuala Lumpur and with headquarters in Doha, Qatar. The new network will carry a truly global agenda to a world audience. " (emphasis mine)

Also, one of the qualities they are looking for is to "be unafraid of controversy".

Finally, the international audience (including Americans) might get a different perspective of world events. But sadly enough, this move might lead CNN & the rest of the gang to move further to the right. Lets just hope that this doesnt happen.

Sunday, February 13, 2005

The songs I like....

Am back to the topic of Kaadhal. One of my fav songs is "Thottu Thottu Ennai". Started listening to this song coz I liked the tune as such, but have fallen in love (pun intended) with the song ever since I noticed a couple of lines in the song - "Ulagathilulla chithravathaikellam chella peyar veythay kaadhal" and "Thodakkamum illai mudivugalum illai, kadavulai pole kaadhal" - these lines can be loosely translated to "Love is after all, the nickname for all the torture in the world" and "Neither a beginning nor an end, love is so much like God".

This got me thinking on how I've liked some songs based on lyrics, while others based on the tune. I must confess here that I can remember just a few songs that I loved for the lyrics, and not the tune when I heard it the first time. Top on that list are "Vidaikodu engal naade" from Kannathil Muthamittal and "Thaniye thannanthaniye" from Rhythm. Both these songs have amazing lyrics - the former creates superb imagery of the context, while the latter is superb poetry and a play of words. But its indeed a pity that there arent many songs that I first liked for the lyrics. Wot a tragedy!?!

Friday, February 11, 2005

US War on Iraq

Heard from a friend about a powerful quote debunking one of US' stated reasons for invading Iraq that he attributed to Business Standard.

"If a rape produces a beautiful baby then is the rape justified?"


A couple of days ago, I finally managed to watch Kaadhal - literally meaning 'love' in Tamil. Was impressed by the music, acting, direction, casting... - well pretty much everything!! :) But I was more fascinated by the director's message at the end of the movie. He claimed that he was inspired by a real-life story that he had heard while on a train journey. I had heard of this claim before I saw the movie, but it made more sense (albeit, in a cynical way) once I saw it. I would consider the ending to be rather tame, abrupt and unbelievable - and I'd like to believe that the director expected this, and hence made up this story of being inspired from a real-life story. Well, obviously I dont have any way to prove my hypothesis but if my hypothesis is true, then I should congratulate the director for adding credibility to his ending in one single stroke - that too after the movie got over!

"India needs deliberate irrationalism"

Recently chanced on a nice article by Nitin Pai on how Inida's foreign policy could learn from China. Click here to read it. Thanks to Amit Varma for the link.

Monday, February 07, 2005

Constable Pappu, MBBS

A report in The Hindu notes that around 20 doctors and a large number of engineers have applied for the post of constable in Thane.

This summarises two malaises of our society, as I see it - first, the craze for a degree in engineering or medicine & also the sorry state of economy that graduates dont seem to find a job commensurate with his educational qualifications.

Its the second one that is more distressing to me - in that our economy is unable to provide jobs for so many 'skilled' people. In fact, if this problem was addressed I suppose the craze for engg or med wud automatically wane away.

This reminds me of the question I had asked an ex-planning commission guy who had come to my college. The question went like this - "Given that India lives in its villages, how can alternative sources of employment be generated in rural India? And what is the role of government and others in this initiative?" In response, he did'nt quite get down to specifics, but one case he did quote was the similar role of Town-Village Enterprise in China. Anyone with any ideas on this?

Even as I was typing the above, I came across this report in the same edition of Hindu on a novel initiative by Anna University to provide employment opportunities for engineering graduates across Tamil Nadu. Well, there is hope! And to quote from Shawshank Redemption, "Hope is good".

Friday, February 04, 2005

eVNDI - eV's National Development Index

Well, here's my own index to measure how developed a nation is: A nation can be categorized as developed or developing based on the number of human fatalities in deaths in mishaps - natural or otherwise. This issue has been puzzling me for some time now - how is it that while a train mishap in the US leads to loss of <10 lives, while those in India result in more than 50, if not 100, deaths? I can probably understand such mismatches in natural mishaps like earthquakes - poor enforcement of building construction rules etc can be blamed. But train mishaps, I just cant understand the huge scale of difference.

I had posted a query on why this happens in an internal forum at my college. And got a range of answers listed below:
1. far less crowding, one bogey in europe is 60 people, one bogey in Bombay is 300 people
2. better coaches
3. some sensor systems might have applied emergency brakes reducing the impact
4. Better post accident response which saves lives
5. window grills prevent escape...essentially antiquated coach design

Please do drop in your ideas on why this discrepancy exists.

Lemme close with a quote from a Chinese news web site " India's railway network operates nearly 14,000 trains a day, carrying more than 13 million passengers, but has about 300 accidents a year"