Tuesday, May 31, 2005

Humour@BBC rox!

BBC reports that an astrologer has predicted Sachin’s early retirement. To tell the truth, I don’t quite care about where Sachin’s career is headed to, but this article amused me like nothing else could.

First of all, the article quotes the astrologer as saying

"I used to predict a lot on the outcome of cricket matches but after some of the predictions went wrong, mainly because of match fixing, I now refuse to predict on cricket matches,"

Hmm, shdnt the stars have predicted the match-fixing? Well, we'll let that one pass... The quote is actually attributed to the astrologer thus..

... said Chowdhry, who correctly predicted India would will win their series in Pakistan 2-1 last year.

Lol! So he refuses to predict on cricket matches, but cricket series is fine?! Maybe he believes match-fixers are fair people and even out the fixing so that a series result isnt affected :p

And there's more..

Most of his clients come in search of matrimonial matches and to solve their employment problems.

Ahem, but arent most marriages in this part of the world arranged by parents and hence equivalent to match-fixing? So how come, he gets it right in marriages but not in cricket!

And finally, the article ends with the following quote...

"Cricket is my area of interest and any cricketer needing fair help is welcome."

Rotflol!! I get it, so all Ganguly has to do is to fly into Pakistan and seek Chowdhry's blessings to be cured of his poor batting form. I just wish someone would tell Saurav abt it! But before that maybe someone should explain to Saurav what is "fair help" ?

Well, well.. maybe I should visit BBC's site more often, nice fun!

Monday, May 30, 2005


My relationship with the concept of veggieness has been a rather interesting one all my life. As a kid, I grew up as a pure veggie. My parents had never eaten meat - and still havent, and hence it seemed pretty natural for me to be a veggie. And then... we went to Kanyakumari. That was the trip I was introduced to non-veg food, and I simply loved it! After that I ate meat once in a while, though I did restrict myself to chicken (for no rational reason). This was till when I was in the 7th std or so at school. That was when my school came up with this concept of Karuna club, and explained the reasons one should be a veggie. Students were given the option to enrol in this club with a nominal payment of a ruppee (if I remember correctly, it was voluntary - though I'm a bit hazy about it). Soon after this, I surprised people at my home by being adamant on not eating meat. This continued for 2-3 years, and after that veggie-ness stopped being an issue in my life for a while. I'm not quite sure when I took to meat again, but I've been at it now on an off-and-on basis. I've never quite been a regular meat-eater, and even when I ate meat I've stuck with chicken. The many changes in my veggie status probably illustrate the various irrational things one does in his life without a rationale. And after all this, I cant quite claim to have felt the sense of satisfaction when I eat meat as much as I do in the case of a good south indian meal!! But still the reason I'm blogging about it is not my liking of meat, but the morality of eating meat.

A couple of weeks ago, I chatted with Chilli on this topic. A week or so later, one of my previously-meat-loving friends DD became a veggie - well, at least when he isnt drinking :) And that made me want to blog about it even more.

So here's the transcript of the chat between yours truly and Chilli. Figure out for yourself if there is any logic in being veggie, and if you find any do tell me.

(Chat transcript begins)
eV: btw, funda of Hindus not eatin meat(esp beef) n Muslims -pork is strictly based on faith rite?
Chilli: maybe they did have some hygienic/logical reason then
eV: 1 reason i hv hrd b4 is tat u can eat plants n still let it reproduce (seeds).. but if u eat mutton, then thrz nothin left frm which life form can be formed
eV: but well, goin by tat logic.. hindus can eat meat if the animals r too old to mate.. or if they r sterile
Chilli: yes that ive heard. thats why u dont eat the root vegetables coz u are uprooting the plant
Chilli: i think its more to do with NOT killing a living being
eV: plants r living ebings da
eV: oh.. u mean no uprootin.. = no killin?
Chilli: yes..thats why u dont kill the plant, but take what it offers
Chilli: which means u can eat an animal's leg
Chilli: that is if it can grow that leg back like a starfish
eV: hmm.. i gez the differentiator is tat one wd like to assume tat plants dont "feel the pain" when a part of it is cut off.. but we'll never kno for sure, wd we?
Chilli: its not abt pain. does that mean we can kill someone in coma
Chilli: the fruits of a plant are meant to be consumed, else they may rot and kill the plant.
Chilli: btw, i am not too sure abt the fruit rotting and killing the plant
eV: basically.. a starfish when amputated can be assumed to experience pain/harm.. which isnt true in the case of a plant
eV: neither am i
eV: wont fruits jus drop n fall beyond a particualr stage/
eV: ?*
Chilli: thats true
Chilli: and i think plants do experience pain as well
eV: well, wot is pain?
Chilli: something abstract
Chilli: people can walk on fire without feeling pain
eV: tatz scientifically true coz the feet isnt gonna be on the fire for too long.. or at least hv hrd tat sm such scientific explanation exists
Chilli: douglas adams talks abt this restaurant where the cow coems forward to the diners and volunteers itself as meat to be killed. so that it is humanitarian
Chilli: :)
eV: how dyu kno its volunteerin itself as meat?
Chilli: it says so
eV: how duz DA kno?
Chilli: it actually is disapp when the character refuses to eat it.
eV: how wd DA kno if its disapp?
Chilli: btw i am talking abt an episode from Hitchhiker's guide...
eV: even so, it mite be coz the man dint drop dead rite then
eV: figed out the H2g2 part
Chilli: dei, brb in 30 mins.
(Chat transcript ends)

Our chat didnt quite succeed in finding a logical reason for being veggie, but again as the great Don Rumsfeld said "the absence of evidence isnt evidence of absence"! :)

Sunday, May 29, 2005

Plugging the leaks

NDTV has been reporting all day today that two people have been arrested for leaking DCE entrance exam papers, which turned out to be fakes. For more details, click here.

I've got a simple question. Why do they have to be arrested? In fact, we need a whole lot of such people on the ground. If there were many fake question papers circulating, candidates wanting to buy such papers would be confused if the one they've got is a fake, and also if they have to choose among many versions, they've got to put in a lot more money.

For the past few years, quite a few entrance papers have been leaked and the attention of the authorities and media has been focused on how to prevent leaks in the future. The two accused in this particular case should be commended for having come up with an ingenious way to solve this problem. Ensuring there is no leak is too costly and almost impossible in our present system. So the market should be flooded with as many question papers as possible. That seems the easier way out, doesnt it?

FM radio

The past few weeks, I've been listening to Radio Mirchi and Suryan FM for an hour each daily. It looks like a lot of research goes into an hour of Radio. Be it Suchitra's morning hour-long show on Mirchi or the filmy-gossip related show in the evening on Suriyan, I wonder how much work goes into a show. Suchitra especially does a great job of discussing contemporary topics and also giving useful information about these topics, interspersing all this with a rather good collection of film songs. For example, the day 12th results were to be declared she chose to speak about alternative career opportunities - and she concentrated on opportunities in the airlines sector, got a few air-hostesses to give their opinions. Nice!

Being an avid fan of Frasier, I wonder sometimes if a psychatrist-on-call would work in the Indian context. Sure we have lots of problems in our lives. And in any case, ensuring anonymity shouldnt be a problem. The only problem I foresee is that radio is probably not seen as a "serious" medium. Its the fun element that entertains people, and I doubt if any radio station would like to take this risk.

Birthday resolutions

I couldnt help but think why reporters wouldnt ask Sonia Gandhi a question that seemed rather obvious to me. With Sonia and the PM preparing report cards on the ministers' performance, shouldnt she be carrying out a similar exercise on her intra-party activities. A year ago, when she renounced PM-ship - though some would say, she settled for proxy-PM - she kept saying that she wanted to devote her energy to reviving her party.

Well madam, what have you achieved? The party is still servile to the family - though I'm not sure if you recognize that as a problem. You've just been re-elected unanimously as the party chief and NDTV reports that Rahul Gandhi might be getting a seat in the CWC. I dont see any revival in Congress' working or attitude. The only reason they can be happy is that the BJP is a lot worse off. As I typed the above few sentences, the thought strikes me - if Congress and BJP continue to be as weak as they are now for 4 more years, maybe we'll have a third front coming to power in the Centre. Hmm.. so what options would we have then? PM Lalu, PM Jayalalitha, PM Mayawati.. all the options seem rather frightening! That isnt to say that a Congress or BJP PM would necessarily be any better.

Well, maybe all this is too much in the long term to think of. So let me conclude this post with noting that in this week's Walk the Talk program on NDTV, Mayawati expressed the hope that in a few years, her party would rule in many states, and finally at the centre as well. She gave herself some 12-13 years to get to the centre.. and oh yeah, did I mention that she considers her party to be the only non-casteist party?

eV’s Theory on revival of BJP fortunes

Well, BJP seems to have lost it for the past one year. Ever since they lost the election, they’ve had internal squabbles and bickering between the many second-rung leaders. I wonder if someone in the BJP (or the rest of Sangh Parivar) would deem it fit to use the ultimate weapon. What BJP needs now is an issue to galvanize its party workers, and motivate its core base – a communal incident/event. An Advani-led rath yatra alone wouldn’t provide the fireworks it requires. The previous rath yatra did have the Ayodhya issue to raise, and finally culminated in the demolition of the Babri Masjid and communal riots. But it also did wonders to BJP – politically speaking. So I wonder – with horror – if the BJP would decide to try its hand at some such thing yet again. But given that the UPA government just celebrated its first birthday, I guess BJP wouldn’t do it for the next 2 years. To maximize their political gain, they’d prefer any such polarizing event to be closer to the polls.

Well, as I mentioned about another theory of mine I posted here, I hope I am wrong.


Early in the afternoon yesterday, I was rather lazily browsing through channels on the television when I chanced upon this program on BBC World. It provided an inside-look into a high-security prison at Thailand that was pretty notorious for mistreatment of prisoners.

Apparently, Thailand is in the grip of a very major drug problem. It was earlier a conduit for smuggling to Europe and the US, but now its own population has taken to drugs at a shocking rate. And there are a whole lot of drug-peddlers involved in this. So the government has come up with stringent measures to tackle this problem. People convicted for smuggling/peddling drugs may be sentenced to 25yrs, life or may even be sentenced to death. To make the death sentence more of a deterrent, the execution is telecast live on Thailand TV. (This is especially unimaginable because till 2003, executions were carried out using a machine gun – now they’ve switched to lethal injection.)

The jail’s Buddhist monk defended the harsh punishment meted out to drug-criminals thus. A person who is involved in drug trafficking ends the lives of many people – and hence he/she is akin to a person who has committed multiple murders. Apparently, this argument resonates with the street sentiment.

I enjoyed the program for the thoughts it raised in me. I’ll try and explain each of them below.

1.An interesting aspect of the program was its focus on foreign nationals in the high-security prison. Africans apparently are rendered little help by their governments, while the Europeans and Americans are a lot better off. A British inmate made an interesting comparison. American inmates need to serve only 8 years, after which according to a prisoner-exchange treaty between US & Thailand, they are shifted to American jails – from where they are released in 2-3 months. He went on to say Germans and some other Europeans had to similarly spend around 10yrs (8+2) in jail - but not so for English inmates. This he termed as unfair. I find this logic rather abhorrent. Quite a few native Thais are forced to take to this trade because of poverty. Incidentally, the program showcased a Thai– some 40-50 yr old – who said he had been pushed to a corner by poverty and had taken to drug-peddling though he had resisted doing so all his life. The program also featured a European prisoner in his early 20s who smuggled drugs into Thailand in order to fund his trip (his second vacation to Thailand). I believe in the case of Thais driven to such crimes by poverty, the society is partly responsible for the crime. And hence why should foreigners who do this be let off any easier?

2.Quite a few inmates complained about the high number of years they’ve been sentenced to. The Thai inmate I mentioned above repeatedly said that he should be given a second chance. But herein lies the dilemma for the authorities – The punishment has to be severe enough to deter the youth from taking to such crimes, even while it shouldn’t be inhuman to the ones who are punished. But how does one achieve that balance?

3. The timing of today’s episode was rather significant – especially since it seems to be a re-telecast having being produced in July 2004. Just this week, an Australian tourist was sentenced to 25yrs for smuggling drugs by a Bali court in Indonesia. Australian public is up in arms. I confess I haven’t tracked the trial details – but it looks like the media in Australia has played a crucial role in whipping up sentiments along with some rightist political parties. Now, some Aussies are even calling for a tourist-boycott of Bali – which depends on Aussie tourism to recover from the terrorist bombings (that rather ironically killed a whole lot of Aussies). Prima facie, the case smacks of Aussie racism coupled with a possibly bungled investigation.

Wednesday, May 25, 2005


Sunil Dutt passed away today. Till yesterday, he was just another politician. At least in my eyes. My opinion of him has largely shaped by the media. And today after his death, I hear NDTV report that he was truly a man of the masses. If it werent for a news channel that I respect, I would have dismissed it as the customary practice of being nice to a guy who has just died. But if on the other hand, if Sunil Dutt was really someone who cared about the people and all, how is it the media ignored this aspect all these days? Does it take a person's death for his virtues to be mentioned in the media?

Tuesday, May 24, 2005

D^3 on Patriotism

This post was just too good. Especially the last couple of sentences.
...all this is why patriotism turns my stomach. I'm obsessed with it, but it turns my stomach

Do read the whole thing here.

Closure to a previous post

In a recent post, I had pondered if a participant in the post-Babri Masjid Mumbai riots would feel any remorse. Today as I was reading the archives of Dilip D'Souza's blog, I felt like I got the answer I was looking for. This post especially hit the nail on the head. He discusses violence in the context of what many would probably agree is the "noblest" cause for violence - war. I wanted to copy paste a few lines of his post, but did'nt have the heart to miss out on the other lines. I suggest you read the complete post here.


I can bet any article on the film censorship board in India will promise that the only way out of this mess called CBFC is if films were self-regulated - i.e movie-makers got together themselves to decide on the film ratings. I have my doubts on whether it would work in Bollywood.
But where I do believe self-regulation would work is in fixing autorickshaw rates in Chennai. Almost anyone who has been on an auto in Chennai cribs about how they are fleeced. But auto-drivers on the other hand claim they are helpless as the rates were last modified a few years ago, and fuel prices have rocketed up in the meantime. Well, what if the autodrivers were to fix prices themselves? Give them the autonomy of setting a rate card, but also simultaneously institute mechanisms by which it is ensured that drivers do not bargain for more. One would think that the autodrivers wouldnt set rates so high as to frighten away consumers. Also, autodrivers significantly lose bargaining power while negotiating with consumers as the rates were something they have agreed to, and not something forced upon them.
I believe this model does better in simulating the supply-demand mechanism while avoiding exploitation of individual consumers.

Monday, May 23, 2005

A celebrity friend

Well, not really! But with a nick like Fart, it shouldnt take too much time to get famous :p He's been talked about here and with a lot more footage here. Should thank Aadisht for having spread the good word about Fart at the Mumbai bloggers meet, though Amit Varma seems to be too decent to work for this great cause. And I guess Fart will be ever-grateful to Nand who first came up with the nickname. :))

Oh, for the record Fart might also respond if you call him Sudheer Narayan.

Saturday, May 21, 2005

Bombay n Kalifornia

This past week I got to watch one of Maniratnam’s almost-masterpieces Bombay for the nth time, n>>1. (I consider Bombay to be an almost-masterpiece mainly because of the utopian way the movie ended – And Aytha Ezhuthu/Yuva was an extreme in this category) Coming to my topic for this post, the movie left me wondering about what it is that makes a common man participate in the riots? There are fundamentalists on either side, whose actions can be explained in terms of their ideology and the indoctrination they have received. But what about others who were guilty of murder or rape during the riot? Would such people have committed similar crimes sometime in their lives – if they had lived in a riot-free world? I mean, is it just the mob frenzy that got to them? Are people so easily swayed into committing such dastardly crimes?

These thoughts reminded me of a movie I’d seen on Zee MGM in my engineering days. Kalifornia was about a road trip, in which the main character tries to understand what separates serial killers (and murderers in general) and the rest of us? The movie’s thesis is that any one of us would commit a murder when pushed to that limit. What distinguishes the serial killer from any one of us is the lack of remorse in their mind after the commit the crime.

So I wonder if the Mumbai rioters of 1992-93 feel any remorse at all. Or did they just get on with their lives as if nothing unusual happened? Incidentally, I remember a lot was made out of how Mumbai was a resilient city when life sprang back to normal the very next day after the Ghatkopar blasts. Did Mumbai feel equally indifferent soon after the riots as well?

Maybe my friends who’ve just moved into Mumbai will have an answer!

Thursday, May 19, 2005

Wanted: More Karans!!

And I’m talking about Karan Thapar here. By far, the best in interviewing politicians – especially in making them explain their contradictions. And everyone else in the media pales in comparison.

I suppose its because the interviews in NDTV 24*7, for example, are oriented towards gleaning as many soundbites as possible – the more controversial the better. Hence it is in the interest of the anchor to let the interviewee ramble on at his own pace. In the past 2-3 weeks, I’ve observed that Karan Thapar does exactly the opposite. He clinically dissects the person across the table- and he does it in style. In fact, the whole setting is geared towards this. The background is blacked out, and the camera focuses constantly on the interviewer – though once in a while we do get to see Karan as well. And its quite obvious that he (or his team) puts in a lot of effort before every interview. While interviewing Arun Jaitley and George Fernandes, he went around systematically – initially giving them space to air their views, and then begins to lay out his case. Carefully and confidently, he brings out his ammunition. Armed with statements made by the invitee, he asks such pointed questions that one almost feels sorry for the poor guy.

Looking at the way Karan butchered George, I was left wondering how Karan manages to convince such people to be interviewed in the first place. I bet anyone who watched that show would think many times over before accepting an invite from Karan. And that probably is one more reason, NDTV & co fail miserably in this honest interview department. In order to stay high on the ratings charts, they need high-profile politicians to attend their panel-discussions and thus are so much like the American TV show Crossfire that was criticized by ComedyCentral’s Jon Stewart as becoming a part of the politicians’ theatre.

Long live the man who made Kapil Dev cry on national television! :)

Wednesday, May 11, 2005

What Osama should be doing?

Simple! Outsource the reconaissance process to someone who'll fit right in - in the USA. For example, get a couple of American citizens (preferably white) to do it for them. But could Osama possibly outsource his bomb delivery process? Given that his core competencies are the planning behind the execution and the element of surprise in the delivery process, doesn't it make sense for him to get whites to do it? The surprise element would be many times more, and so also the damage it causes to the American society (whose power and psyche I assume is his main target).

This (bizarre?) post was something that struck me when I read this.

To quote,
A small plane breached the security zone over Washington, several law enforcement officials said, prompting alerts across the city.

The plane was approached by a fighter aircraft and veered away.

What would've gone on in the mind of the fighter plane's pilot when he approached the possibly terrorist-driven plane? Would he have just veered the plane away if he found it's pilot to be a Muslim Arab with a long beard (or for that matter, a Sikh with a beard and a turban)?

P.S: And if you think Osama cant find whites to do his work, think Timothy McVeigh (and in any case, the delivery boy might not know his boss or the boss' purpose - as was the case with some 9/11 terrorists)

Go for the kill

.. when you still can. If you dont, it will come back to haunt you.

Monday, May 09, 2005

Power play

NDTV 24*7 reports that the PMO has come up with a report evaluating each Union Minister’s performance – and benchmarking it against the promises made by the UPA in its Common Minimum Program. Here are a few reasons why I found this story particularly interesting.

1. The report-card didn’t seem to be just an eye-wash. It pointedly referred to certain failures of senior ministers (Home Minister Shivraj Patil being in the Andamans when the Tourist Reception Centre at Srinagar was attacked on the eve of the Srinagar-Muzaffarabad bus, External Affairs Minister Natwar Singh’s failures in Nepal and Bangladesh).
2. The NDTV report also included a denial by the PMO of having undertaken any such report-card exercise.
3. All the ministers whose report-card was leaked were from the Congress – none from its allies in the UPA.

Here’s my theory. I suspect the PMO or some individual(s) has/have leaked the contents of the report to the media, and promptly denied the existence of this report. But why would they do that? Just last week, the opposition was crying hoarse on how the PM didn’t have control over his government. I’d imagine this move is the PM’s own way of asserting his power – even as he takes care not to damage his alliance (by not leaking reports on his alliance partners).

Nice move, Dr. Singh.

Friday, May 06, 2005

India and UNSC expansion

An interesting perspective emerged in this week's episode of Foreign Correspondent regarding India's quest for a permanent seat in the UN Security Council. Ajay Shukla posed an interesting question to the panel.

Given that India has often taken an ambivalent position on various issues(incl Israel-Palestine), how would India handle the power that a veto would bestow upon it?

Amazingly insightful question.

I've been spammed!!

One of the comments to my previous post was a spam message. Had read a few months ago that Blogger and LJ were working on combating blog-spams, but little seems to have happened on that front.

I find blog-spams to be worse than the spam mails that flood our inboxes for the following reasons.

1. I cannot delete the spam comment. The only way I can remove it is to switch off the commenting facility - which I am definitely not inclined towards.

2. This blog is MY personal space, and posting such spam messages in it is a violation of my privacy and equivalent to trespassing my virtual space.

One thing Blogger/LJ could do is allow bloggers to mark comments as spam - and such comments may at least be relegated to the bottom of the comments page (after a break-line that says "The following were categorized as spam by the author of this blog").
Is anyone listening?

Thursday, May 05, 2005

Who owns the womb?

Amit Varma raises an issue that I had wondered about sometime ago. Why should only the woman have right over the baby? I obviously am not concerning myself with extreme cases like rape or when the delivery might harm the woman (as it is in the instance Amit cites).

But in a "normal" pregnancy, I dont see why the woman's consent alone is enough for abortion. I would think that the man and woman agree - or at least dont have any problems - to having a child when they decide to have sex. So how can one party renege on the contract without the consent of the other?

I understand that the situation when the man wants the abortion is different from when the woman wants it - primarily because the woman would have to carry the baby in her womb. But does that absolve her of the contract effective from when they did it?

Would love to know if there is any philosophical/rational/legal inconsistency in my position..

Wednesday, May 04, 2005


To all managers(and in fact anyone who works), understand that home and work are 2 different aspects of your life. Applying business principles at home does not make any sense. It sucks. If you handle your relationships like businesses, you've got it all wrong. Think back of the days when you enjoyed the company of relatives.. when you weren't always manoeuvering everyone around you for your own selfish gain.

P.S: This post is just to vent my frustration. I just wanted this out of my system.

Tuesday, May 03, 2005

Rajdeep Sardesai and money

Outlook magazine quotes about Rajdeep Sardesai: A website wrote he quit NDTV because he thought he worked the hardest and yet there were five people who were earning more than him.

Link thanks to Adi and Gautam Ghosh.

And to quote Gautam Ghosh's analysis, "So while money in itself is not a motivator, it also becomes a mirror for one's centrality in the organization. And when one finds that reputation and compensation do not match, it's a vulnerable time for poachers."

I strongly agree with Gautam's theory. In fact, I've been on the receiving end sometime in the past two years when some of us had to do a project for a company for free. It wasnt the fact that we were poorer by a few rupees that mattered, but that since the client made no investment in us, we dont command respect in his mind - and hence our recommendations wouldn't be taken seriously. As it turned out, the client did pay us, and was greatly impressed with our work.

I love the concept of money!

Friday the 13th

.. is coming up in a few days, and it looks like I'll know my job location on that fateful day! God save me! :p

Monday, May 02, 2005

A new chapter

Today, I shall script a new chapter in my life. In a few hours from now, I'll be joining Cognizant as a Senior Business Analyst - for all practical purposes, my first step into the corporate world.

I'm reminded of a quote from Anbe Sivam I mentioned here, "Adutha nodiyil olithu vaithirikkum aacharyangal ivvulagathil eralam... Acharyam niraintha intha ulagathai nambi payanikkiren".

Of course, a quite a few of my friends are beginning a new chapter around the same time now. Makes me wonder where we would all be in say five years from now!...

P.S: And of course, there are anonymous people who shall be starting a new chapter with research on computational biology at CM Univ as well :p