Monday, October 31, 2005

A 1000 words

(C) Reuters

Sunday, October 30, 2005

The Delhi Blasts

I've never found it possible to watch the news coverage by any non-NDTV Indian channel. Its all plain dumb. But since yesterday, I just can't get myself to watch NDTV either. Watching it serves little purpose other than to glamourise the events and make one & all feel the pain at a very superficial level. I caught myself thinking of how these news channels provide just a voyeuristic perspective - to bombard us with inane details of blasts, to gherao any police official and demand him to speak to the public via the media when he should be spending his energy on the blast that has happened.

24-hr news channels, by definition, have to do these things. The print media can afford not to. Sadly all we have in our newspapers is a list of fact-capsules and a couple of statements from some hot-shots. The press could learn from this article by Dilip.

Tuesday, October 25, 2005


"Worldly wisdom teaches that it is better for reputation to fail conventionally than to succeed unconventionally" - John Maynard Keynes.

More so in India.

Sunday, October 23, 2005


Watching a panel discussion titled 'Digital Dividend' on BBC World, I was left wondering if liberalization in India has changed the definition of development in our national discourse. Nowadays its all about whether the FDI limits in sector X has been increased or if the GDP is expected to rise by y%. Give me a break! Do you want to measure the performance of a government? Here are a few metrics you should start off with:-
1. Average nutrition levels of children of BPL families
2. Average female literacy levels in BPL families
3. Percentage of BPL families that have upgraded to non-BPL status
4. Unemployment levels in BPL families

While measuring these metrics accurately might be a pain, I'd at least like to see governments being evaluated based on their plans to address each of the above needs and the corresponding action at the ground-level.

I'm afraid the newly affluent middle class and other well-to-do people dont depend on government for their progress, and hence governance is just another form of entertainment for most of these people. What else explains this sudden round of condemnation of our levels of governance when Mumbai is flooded or when a college-going girl is raped by a policeman in a cosmo Mumbai?

Saturday, October 22, 2005

The State of India

'The sector of the economy that grew most in independent India was neither the agricultural nor the industrial, but the bureaucratic. In other words, regulation became a more important economic activity than production. As the state became all-pervasive, it was also the only available focus for discontent. If jobs were not available, it was the state's fault; if there was not enough food on the table, the government had failed. In turn, the state was the only available means for redressing its own failures, and when it took steps that alienated its citizens, they had nowhere lese to turn but to (or against) the state. Would despairing young men have taken to immolating themselves in the streets in protest against the V.P. Singh government's decision to guarantee reservations of government jobs to "backward castes", if the government was only a minor option among many for a graduate job-seeker?' - Shashi Tharoor

I've long wondered why the Indian public expected the government to provide them with everything they needed. The above passage made a lot of sense.

Chennai cinemas

Earlier this week, Kaps had blogged about the upcoming high-end cinemas in Chennai. It got me thinking about how it would affect the economics of watching a movie at Chennai.

PVR, Inox etc will demand a premium from the consumers - and of course, provide superior quality experience at the theatre. With the kind of money muscle these theatres would have, they shouldnt have any problems in bidding for the movie rights from the distributors. How would a "small theatre" compete against this? (A small theatre being one that charges 30-40 Rs/ticket) Would the bidding happen at two levels - one for the premium theatres, and a separate one for the rest? If not, I dont see how the smaller competitors can match the amounts that a PVR would be willing to shell out. Or would the PVRs get creative, and demand that the smaller competitors may release movies only with a time lag?

Well, whichever way it turns out to be, there definitely is going to be a lot of money in cinema retail. And the next few years would probably see the demise of some middle-rung theatres as well.

At least in the case of cinemas, the boom in high-end theatres is coming up when there are quite a few "low-end" ones so that one might expect at least a few of the latter to survive. In the field of healthcare though, there is tremendous growth in high-end sector with almost a non-existent low-end side. If let to continue this way, surely the society will strike back!

Tuesday, October 18, 2005

Read this!

Click here to read the prize-winning entry in an annual essay contest sponsored by The Indian Express and Citizens for Peace. The topic this year was ‘A Secular Rethink’.

Too good!

Monday, October 17, 2005

India a Superpower?

I sometimes wonder if we Indians really want our country to be a developed one. Your spontaneous reaction was probably along the lines of "Yes, of course!". But how do you think this change (to a developed India) would affect your life? One pretty glaring aspect to me is that there wouldn't be as many households as there are today that employ maids and servants. At least for the middle-class families, the concept of maids would be a thing of the past. Are you ready to lose these comforts that one usually takes for granted?

P.S: I somehow dont feel I've processed this thought completely, but am letting it loose nevertheless.

Saturday, October 15, 2005


"Caste, like Hindu and curry, is a word invented by outsiders to describe what Indians understand without precise definition." - Shashi Tharoor.

Friday, October 14, 2005


My 2 cents:
1. Gaurav Sabnisku oru kumbudu
2. Saw the report on NDTV's News at 9. Though the report left much to be desired, at least they got IIPM to admit that they did contact IBM on this issue.
3. Some 'minority reports' that I find myself in agreement with - here and here.

Wednesday, October 12, 2005


I come across this so often: X is a God in his field, and he is humble in spite of it. How does it matter whether Amitabh is humble or not? Would you like ARR's music any lesser if you found out tomorrow that his supposed humility is all a charade?
I'd imagine ARR - or any talented person, for that matter- would like his works to be liked for his talent, and not for his attitude.

This is my humble opinion.

Tuesday, October 11, 2005

Why US would fail in the 'War on terror'...

In the 'War on Terror', US has taken on the role played by USSR in the Cold War. It seems to believe that its enough to repeatedly state its intention to win the war without addressing the core issues. A strategy of pure rhetoric while facing an enemy who is out to destroy you is NOT a strategy at all.

Hope Sen John McCain, or whoever else it is who'll be the next US Prez, has the sense to make amends - though I'm not sure if there'll be enough time for that.

In the meanwhile, other countries (incl India) would do well to de-globalize to an extent so as to protect their own economies from crashing down when the US loses the war.

Note 1: De-globalize does not imply that the process of liberalization should be rolled back or stalled.
Note 2: I'm not sure what would happen to the world if the US loses the war - and whether other countries would anyway be mauled by terrorism, but my point is that if it is reasonably clear that US is going to lose the war, one should at least make sure we dont go down with it.

Monday, October 10, 2005


I've decided not to blog about it. Nothing I write can do justice to it.

Wednesday, October 05, 2005

You rotting piece of ....

A corpse is said to rot. When does this rotting begin? I guess its assumed to start with one's death. But an extremely old person is also said to waste away. So I guess our usage of these words is related to the visual stimuli. Wrinkles and other signs of ageing are related to a downward slope in the creation and destruction circle of life. I'd prefer to think that we are forever rotting - primarily because I cant pin point the time when the rotting is said to set in. So acc to my theory, we're all rotting - and this began with our births. Of course, babies are less rotten than us all. And hence the title of this post seems to be an apt way to address everyone in this world.

Tuesday, October 04, 2005

Human Rights in India

The core principle of human rights is to let an individual lead his life as he may choose while within the legal limits.

Indian society has been conformist - and still is. Glaring examples being the criteria people use to decide on their job and spouse. People are taught to live their lives based on how others would evaluate their choices.

With such a huge gap between the written law and the societal norm, can one expect the law to be upheld in a democracy - especially one in which almost all media outlets are out to win the Best Indian Tabloid award?

Monday, October 03, 2005


Schools have it.
Offices have it.
Why not colleges also?

Sunday, October 02, 2005

Life, Mind and Time

A corollary to this post: The concept of life is a manifestation of the force of probability. Life begins and ends based on probability. Is there any reason to distinguish the concept of life from that of probability? I cant think of any. In the above-linked post, I had mentioned that religion is a way of reinforcing our sense of superiority in the universe. Life - on the other hand - enhances the importance of all "living objects" relative to the "inanimate ones".

Human relationships are functions of our minds. Friendship, love or hate results out of our mind-driven responses. But I'm beginning to think that the mind could be just another application of probability. I think I would like to believe that this cant be true. The world would seem rather boring. Again, resorting to my filter - is there any aspect that distinguishes human mind from probability? No answers from my side. Thus the concept of mind is just a rehashed user-friendly version of the concept of probability.

While it seems feasible to explain away most concepts in terms of probability, it is probably not the mother of all concepts. I can think of at least one concept that cant be defined in terms of probability - Time.

Maybe Time and Probability are the two dimensions that define the state of the universe.

Note 1: In the previous sentence "maybe" and "state" are related to probability and time, and thus my conclusion turns out to be a hopelessly recursive statement. :)

Note 2: One might wonder: If probability explains so many concepts, what explains the values of the probabilities? i.e What theory explains why the value of a probability should be X and not Y? My Answer: Probability. p(p(x)=a)=b. Recursion yet again!!