Saturday, October 31, 2009

FBI foils terror bid to attack India and Denmark

The FBI arrested David Coleman Headley, a Chicago resident earlier this month for plotting terror-attacks overseas, including India. He was arrested along with a Canadian citizen of Pakistani origin by the FBI’s joint terrorism task force. Headley, a U.S. citizen who resides primarily in Chicago, was arrested on Oct. 3, 2009, by the Chicago FBI’s Joint Terrorism Task Force (JTTF) at O’Hare International Airport before boarding a flight to Philadelphia, intending to travel on to Pakistan.

Reports also indicated that they planned to attack the Danish newspaper, Jyllands-Posten, which published some cartoons of the prophet, including one with a bomb as a turban, in 2005.

Pakistan-based terror group Lashkar-e-Taiba (LeT), blamed for the 26/11 Mumbai terrorist attack, was planning to use an American national to carry out another major attack in India, the FBI said Tuesday.

26/11 Attack on India

Indian sleuths would now join their FBI counterparts on Monday to ineterrogate David Coleman Headley, for his role and association in a attack plot on India, as fresh inputs indicated that he was planning to visit Pakistan this month. Indian investigators from the Intelligence Bureau (IB) and Research and Analysis Wing (RAW) are also expected to probe the terror-drug nexus as it has come to light that Headley was charged by a federal court in New York in 1997 with smuggling heroin to the US.

In 1997 he was still operating under his name Daood Saleem Gilani; under which name the case is still in the court records which also shows he was living in New York. Gilani was sentenced to a 15-month prison term in that case. He was travelling to Pakistan and bringing heroin back.

One of Headley’s cousins, Farid Gilani of Philadelphia, told the Chicago Sun-Times that he spoke to Headley over the phone about a month ago. “He was supposed to come (and) visit me, but he never came,” Farid Gilani was quoted as saying. “He said ‘I am going back home to Pakistan.”


A Department of Justice press release sourced from it website lists the details of arrest as well as charges on the two accused:

Headley, a U.S. citizen who changed his name from Daood Gilani in 2006 and resides primarily in Chicago, was arrested on Oct. 3, 2009, by the Chicago FBI’s Joint Terrorism Task Force (JTTF) at O’Hare International Airport before boarding a flight to Philadelphia, intending to travel on to Pakistan. He was charged with one count of conspiracy to commit terrorist acts involving murder and maiming outside the United States and one count of conspiracy to provide material support to that overseas terrorism conspiracy.

Rana, a native of Pakistan and citizen of Canada who also primarily resides in Chicago, was arrested on Oct. 18, 2009, at his home by federal agents. Rana is the owner of several businesses, including First World Immigration Services, which has offices on Devon Avenue in Chicago, as well as in New York and Toronto. He was charged with one count of conspiracy to provide material support to a foreign terrorism conspiracy that involved Headley and at least three other specific individuals in Pakistan.


In a related development, a senior Pakistan diplomat has come under the FBI scanner for his links with the two accused arrested individuals. Aman Rashid, who is currently Pakistan’s consul general in Chicago, was trying to help Headley acquire a Pakistan visa, the FBI said in its chargesheet while suggesting that he may not have been aware of the true identity of Headley and the purpose of his visit to the country.

A revised FBI chargesheet said that Rashid and the two accused went to the same military high school in a town called Hasan Abdal, 40 km northwest of Rawalpindi in northern Punjab. FBI also found that Rashid, Headley and Rana were all Abdalians, as former students of the Cadet College Hasan Abdal school describe themselves. The FBI told the court that postings to a Yahoo group of graduates of the military school suggested that both Headley and Rana were members of the group.

The FBI said that Rana was in touch with Rashid for arranging Pakistan visa for Headley to facilitate his visit to NWFP where he was scheduled to meet LeT leaders. “On or about September 25, 2009, Rana spoke by telephone with the consul general at the Pakistani consulate in Chicago in an effort to obtain a five-year visa for Headley to travel to Pakistan. It is clear from the email traffic unrelated to terrorist plotting that the consul general knows Rana and Headley personally as all three attended the same high school,” the FBI stated in its chargesheet filed in a Chicago court.


The transcripts of phone conversations and emails in FBI’s possession indicate that LeT was planning to use Headley for attack on an Indian actor named “Rahul”. Headley is reported to have divulged to the FBI his intention to travel to Pakistan in early October where he was supposed to meet with an unidentified LeT individual and another man named (Ilyas) Kashmiri, an LeT terrorist who was earlier with Pakistan’s Special Services Group.

While the Indian Home Minister, P Chidambaram clarified that it is not Congress leaders “Rahul” Gandhi it may be a code name for some other leader or individual.

“It is not the Rahul that you think it is. It could be a pseudonym, it could be a code name but please be assured that it is not the Rahul that you think is,” he (Chidamabaram) said.


The DoJ release indicated that there was no “imminent threat” in the Chicago area.

There was no imminent danger in the Chicago area, officials said, adding that the charges are unrelated to recent terror plot arrests in Boston, New York, Colorado, Texas and central Illinois.


At the same time, the October 18 raids on the goat farm house of Rana have become the talk of the Kinsman town on the outskirts of Chicago, when nearly 100 sleuths with helicopters and latest equipment landed up. Incidentally, there are three nuclear power plants near Kinsman. A Kinsman resident told a local daily that the raid was upsetting as no one was aware of what was going on until the FBI announcement made public the arrest of the two early this week.

The US state department has meanwhile issued a short term “travel alert” advising Americans “to monitor local news reports and consider the level of security present when visiting public places, including religious sites, or choosing hotels, restaurants, entertainment and recreation venues.’’ The “travel alert’’ is different from the “travel warning,’’ as describes short-term conditions. Pakistan, Sri Lanka, Afghanistan, Sri Lanka and Nepal in the region are on a “travel warning”, alongwith other nations like Saudi Arabia, Iran, Iraq, Somalia and Philippines among others.


From Udaipur, with love

Twas the morning of Diwali when I left the Salvation Army dorm and hopped in a taxi to the airport. Most of the streets of the city were empty which gave Mumbai a completely different look and it was bizarre to see the place devoid of chaos! The airport experience is like any other I suppose apart from the fact that Indian people don’t queue very well; a moments lapse in concentration sees you elbowed aside and overtaken. I’ve been here long enough though and my elbows bare the battle scars of many a fallen Indian queue skipper!

The only things wrong with my flight were all my own doing. I was at the airport way too early which I blame solely on Yvonne’s insistence over the past few years to give yourself way too much time hanging around airports. The second thing I did wrong was fall asleep during the flight and miss breakfast! When I finally woke up I noticed all the trays of food being collected. One of the air hostesses noticed my sad face and asked if I wanted my food now that I was awake. I nodded, delighted at my second chance, but as she was coming back we hit some crazy turbulence and she had more pressing things to attend to – such as all the guys who suddenly decided to go to the toilet when it was impossible to do so. They were thrown around the cabin like rag dolls until the air hostesses rescued them. Idiots.

After landing at Udaipur airport I was picked up by an arranged taxi driver and, surprisingly, the owner of the guesthouse I’d booked. I thought it a bit odd that the hotel owner had come all the way to collect me and even odder that he’d waited around despite my flight being an hour late (not sure how that happened). I’d given him the flight number the day before but he was frustrated I hadn’t told him where I was flying from… I started to explain flight numbers but then gave up. The guesthouse was nice and comfortable but the real star of the place was the view; Udaipur is stunning! Imagine a little bit of Venice airlifted and plopped into India and you get a picture of the cities old town area. From my guesthouse I could see all the main sites in the surrounding area and after the dorm experience of the previous few nights I was delighted to have an en-suite room and a bed-bug free bed!

In many ways the star of the city isn’t any of its fancy palaces or temples but instead the man-made lake which the city straddles. Lake Pichola was enlarged by Maharana Udai Singh II once the city was founded by flooding the local village of Pichola but even with this enlargement it’s quite shallow and can apparently dry out occasionally. The lake has two islands (I’ll discuss one later) and the east side is home to the City Palace which swoops right down to the waters edge and towers into the sky above it. It’s a real fairytale palace and despite being made up of many building built by different rulers at different times it all seems to come together and work. The most interesting of the two islands on the lake is Jagniwas Island but it’s better known as The Lake Palace Hotel. This square 1.5 hectare island is completely covered by a palace that is now a luxury hotel and plays host to Indias Bollywood stars and elite. If you’re not staying at the hotel the only way to get across is by booking lunch or dinner both of which were out of my price range. However my ever eager guesthouse owner promised to arrange a special visit for me with his friend that would cost me nothing. Alas, just before departure he regretfully informed me that a very rich businessman was having his wedding there and plebs like me would be shot on sight.

When I arrived at the guesthouse I got talking to a group of English volunteers working for NGO’s over here and taking a few days to relax in Udaipur. They invited me out to dinner and drinks and seeing as I didn’t want to be alone for Diwali I tagged along. I haven’t explained Diwali yet and I’m pretty sure I’ve mentioned it a few times. Diwali is India’s most popular Hindu event and is also known as the Festival of Lights. In this respect it doesn’t disappoint as every street, every shop, every house and vehicle is lit up in some way and on the night itself the whole place seems to sparkle. Even the rivers are alight as candles are set afloat along the water to guide Lord Rama home.

This theme of lights also means fireworks. Lots and lots of fireworks! I cannot describe how many explosions light up the night sky and how deafening the constant explosions become. Myself and the English volunteers sat on a rooftop bar overlooking the city and we were soon joined by more of their friends. We had a great vantage point for the festivities and thought we were safe from the thousands of bangers being thrown around the streets (I dislike bangers) but what we didn’t count on was how close we’d be to fireworks exploding. Once or twice it actually felt like we were inside the explosions of colour and as we took photos one particular firework blew up at the level of our table, about 3metres away. I don’t know how someone didn’t lose an eye, or a face for that matter, but with that we took our cue to move inside!

The next morning I’d agreed to go with some of the group for a horse ride. It was nice and relaxing and a good chance to see some of the (pretty sparse) Rajasthan countryside. Later on we went for dinner and once again I met with someone who I’d seen earlier in the trip. It’s amazing how it happens when you consider there’s no ‘tourist route’ through India and that it’s a country with a billion people but by the side of the lake I met up with Matt, who I’d met in Goa. We went for a drink and agreed to rent bicycles the next day and go exploring. The horse ride had left me a little sore so getting onto a bicycle wasn’t ideal, especially with the giant and wide Indian bike seats they have here. Yeesh!

The bike ride took us out of the city and around by Fateh Sagar (another lake, this time housing a garden island called Nehru Park) and up and down back-roads to Badi Ka Talab (Tiger Lake). It was quite a cycle considering the heat and the mostly uphill route! Along the way we met an English couple working in a nearby animal shelter and they invited us in for a look around. It was a pretty grim experience. Most of the animals on the streets over here look on their last limbs as it is so you can imagine the cases that are seen as severe enough to take into care. Dogs that had survived car accidents but had been horribly disfigured, dogs that had been paralysed, or had rabies, or mange. There was also donkeys and cows and birds and all in all it wasn’t really the most pleasant place, despite the good work the people running it were doing.

Anyway, Tiger Lake was nice but we didn’t go for a swim as it’s got a bit of a crocodile problem. What we decided to do was cycle to Monsoon Palace for sunset which is a lovely spot… if you’re driving up! It’s a 4km climb up along winding mountain roads and when you’re trying to cycle it’s an absolute nightmare. We had to push our bikes about 3km and as cars sped past they’d beep, or people would look at us and say that we were mad. We were mad. It nearly killed us. On reaching the palace we were met with the stunned faces of those who’d driven past. I don’t think they expected us to make it but some of them had words of congratulations! After a quick Coca-Cola we sat within the crowds and watched as the sun disappeared.

The moment it did set we sprang into action, jumped on our bikes and freewheeled all the way down. Only the fastest cars could overtake us and the whole ordeal was made worthwhile just for that downhill sprint. Exhilarating! On returning to Udaipur we went to a recommended thali restaurant and stuffed our faces. This particular restaurant only served thali so there’s no menu. It’s also all you can eat so a small army of men is constantly scouring the room for an emptying plate. Once they see some space for more food on your plate they slop it down and you start from scratch. What a place!

One last thing about Udaipur; it’s the city where large parts of the Bond movie Octopussy was shot. The locals have been living off this for a long time! Every single restaurant, hotel or bar advertises the fact that they screen the movie every night at 7pm. We found one such place, which turned out to be some guys sitting room, and watched it. How ridiculous is Roger Moore?

Thursday, October 29, 2009

Naughty Dog shows the way in action

IF Steven Spielberg plans to produce any more Indiana Jones movies, he would benefit from a play-through of Uncharted 2: Among Thieves.

The veteran director’s attempt to revive the once-proud action-adventure franchise was panned by critics globally because of a lack of substance and cohesive story.

Everything the movie missed — action, adventure and attractive visuals, tied together by a good story — is present in the cinematic game Among Thieves published by Naughty Dog. It enhances the successful combination of action and adventure games elements that made its predecessor, Uncharted: Drake’s Fortune, a hit.

The action begins in the game’s very first moments, when the main character Drake has to climb out of a train suspended over a cliff, and sequences become increasingly complex — such as the use of stealth attacking techniques — as the game progresses. The action is broken up by complex puzzles and interspersed with dramatic movie scenes to lift the Uncharted franchise above the sea of mindless shoot-em-ups.

Stunning graphics complement the stimulating gameplay and are some of the finest ever on the PlayStation 3.

Womans World - Indian Brides in Demand

One of the cousin brothers is getting engaged today and while I am happy, here is another wicket down and I shudder to go to the function because the pressure it would pile up on me. Everyone who happens to know me or my parents would now ask me and them, “When are you getting hitched?” or “We have some girls who are right for you?” to which I just respond with a smile because frankly my dears, I dont give a damn. I dont think I would make a good life partner and it would be unfair on my part to subject another human to the torture. The secret to happiness is to surround yourself with people (not things) you enjoy spending time with. Marriage is a shortcut (not always successfully trodden) because it gives an opportunity for people to create other people (read, children) and force them to spend time with you. That sounds a lot like human rights violations if put it this way, neh?
Heavy stuff, eh? But just listening to process of how the match was arranged – the home visits, the matrimonial sites, the photos and profiles et al. I could not but help but realize that when it comes to marriage (of the urban middle class atleast), it seems that brides are the ones in demand. It is a womans world out there. All that female infaniticide and ladies quotas in professional education is reaping some benefits to the fairer sex. Prospective brides these days have plenty of choices and liberal parents which is coming down to grooms chasing them not very unlike…

harish engagement, hitch pressure, secret to happiness, create own people, force childen, arranged match, brides demand, female infanticide, ladies quota, urban middle class, grooms chase girls, money garlands, DC subhani

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Guerrilleros maoístas asaltan el 'Rajdhani Expres'

Cientos de guerrilleros maoístas irrumpieron este martes en un tren de alta velocidad en el este de India y desde sus vagones se enfrentaron a las fuerzas de seguridad, según ha informado la Policía local. El ‘Rajdhani Exprés’, uno de los trenes de pasajeros más prestigiosos del país, fue detenido por los maoístas cuando cruzaba el estado de Bengala Occidental, en el este del país. “Unos 300 maoístas han detenido el tren y han expulsado al conductor”, indicó un oficial de policía, Dilip Mitra.

Los maoístas, que han aumentado sus actos violentos en el este y centro de India, pidieron a los pasajeros que salieran del tren, según informan canales locales de televisión. “Uno de los policías ha sido herido, y seguimos enfrentándonos con los rebeldes”, informó Mitra.

Los rebeldes maoístas suelen atacar los trenes de mercancías en este país y anteriormente han secuestrado trenes de pasajeros en diferentes distritos de India antes de darse a la fuga. La rebelión de los maoístas comenzó hace cuatro décadas para defender la causa de los pobres del este, pero se ha extendido a unos 20 de los 29 estados del país, mientras los rebeldes hacen de la Policía y las propiedades gubernamentales su objetivo.

(Fuente El País)

Prof. Matuk Nath Chaudhary and Julie in JNU campus: A multimedia report

The uninitiated may read about “love guru” Professor Matuk Nath and Julie, arguably India’s most controversial couple, here and here. Yesterday evening [10 pm to midnight], the duo [both one-time JNU students] addressed the JNU students at Sutlej hostel of the JNU campus and concluded it with a Q and A session. This is a brief multimedia report of the public meeting on the issue Love and Society Today.

Prof. Matuk Nath was a JNU student in the 1970s and also narrated some of his humorous experiences of the campus. The duo spoke in Hindi [Julie had a throat issue and spoke little only interjecting at times to buttress some points put forward by the professor]. I’ll make my prejudices clear in the beginning: I do not like them but that is neither here nor there. The programme was anchored by Prakash K Ray and Zahid.

His admission in JNU was a unique incident [1976]

After a brief introduction [including a sharp reproof to those who had whistled] by Prakash K Ray and Zahid, Prof. Matuknath started his speech in chaste Hindi recounting his first interaction with the JNU Campus way back in 1976. Clueless about the admission procedure, he ["भुचंगड़ देहाती"] had come to Sutlej Hostel with “bedding and trunk” and the application form. A Sutlej resident Madhukar Anand, a total stranger to him, was very hospitable to him and he was overwhelmed by that ‘first love.’

He had gone to the JNU officials and was told that the last date for applying to JNU was over and that that day was the day of the entrance examination! Matuk Nath produced a letter of recommendation from some VIP and the dean yielded (“special case”) and he was allowed to write the JNU entrance examination! He was selected and later allotted Room No. 107 of the Sutlej Hostel! This was indeed a surprising account on JNU and the audience suitably clapped as they lapped it up.

He called himself a ‘manu’ [progenitor; 'Sutlej hostel was deserted but after he came here it was teeming with people and flourished']. Prof. Matuk Nath was visibly overwhelmed and said it was a great moment of his life (“dream come true”) that he was here in his alma mater speaking to the JNU community.

Prof. Matuk Nath on Love and Society


Speaking on Love and Society Today, Prof. Matuk Nath said the society wants us to love everything except loving a woman (“Stri se prem mat karo”) and that we were living like donkeys and bulls! It is the responsibility of the youth to raise questions on this and argue for the ‘freedom of thoughts.’ While elaborately justifying his love for Julie, he touched upon various issues relating to love including physical love, male-female natural attraction, self-control in love among other things. He also drew an analogy between sex and snakes (’snakes are beautiful creatures but we have been tutored to hate and fear them’).

He invited questions form the audience and answered all of them without being shy of any question or feeling any embarrassment. One of his students was also present who claimed to have campaigned for him during the elections. Mr. Zahid regretted that he did not had the opportunity to be taught by Prof. Matuk Nath unlike that student who was given a warm welcome. When asked what he would have done if he were in the Parliament, he said this meeting itself was like the parliament to him and regretted that good people like those in the audience were not reaching the parliament.

I asked him if there was any ‘guarantee’ that he will not fall in love again and quit Julie as well to which he said that he was least concerned about that and it is Julie who has chosen her and not the vice versa:

The beauty of love is in the fact that there is no guarantee in it! छूट जाए तो छूट जाए!

मेरा वश नहीं है. अगर मेरे कारण होता तो में किसको छोड़ता!

Julie interjected to add that the whole world was suddenly eager about her condition. Prof. Matuk Nath explained that that any male would fall for Julie and it was this suppressed sexual desire ["अतृप्त काम भावना"] that was to be blamed for the male concern towards Julie’s future and life ["कौन युवक इससे प्रेम नहीं करेगा"] and the public outcry against their relationship.

Prof. Matuk Nath was said he was very happy with life having discovered the true essence of life. A major theme of his speech was that there was no freedom and respite from sexual desire ["वासना से मुक्ति का कोई प्रश्न नहीं है!"] and that physical love and mental love cannot be seen as divorced from each other.

Both Prof. Matuk Nath and Julie were quite phlegmatic during the complete meeting unlike some members of the audience. The people may have clapped more than once but the general mood was not necessarily of an approval to their union and people had gathered to see him more than anything else. Most of the questions from the students in fact questioned him on their relationship. Matuk Nath also said he can only speak on ‘Matuknathi love’ and not Freudian love [question by Samar]. A student in the crowd said this after the event: “It feels like I heard the Shahrukh Khan in Mohabattein!”

Download/listen to full audio

I suggest you download the full audio or listen it [Hindi] online if you are interested in his full speech. It may be a good document for anybody interested in doing research on love, sex, conjugal and other social issues.

Want More Photos

Click here for more photos of the event.

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Sunday, October 25, 2009


I made these rose petal cookies to welcome diego back from his resent trip to Madrid. They are made with rose essential oil which we brought back from India. When we were there one evening after sunset we found a hidden back alley shop filled with the most amazing essential oils. After sniffing several dozen bottles and feeling my nose numbing with impressions I chose a few select and had the thick honey liquids poured into little crystal flacons.

The Axe Effect !!

Unable to attract even a single girl, frustrated man sues Axe
New Delhi. In what could prove to be a major marketing and legal
embarrassment for Hindustan Unilever Limited (HUL), a 26-year-old man
has filed a case against the FMCG company, which owns the Axe brand of
men grooming products, for ‘cheating’ and causing him ‘mental
suffering’. The plaintiff has cited his failure to attract any girl at
all even though he’s been using Axe products for over seven years now.
Axe advertisements suggest that the products help men in instantly
attracting women.
Vaibhav Bedi, the petitioner, also surrendered all his used, unused and
half-used deodorant sprays, perfume sticks and roll-ons,
anti-perspirants, aftershaves, body washes, shampoos, and hair gels to
the court, and demanded a laboratory test of the products and narcotics
test of the brand managers of Axe. Vaibhav was pushed to take this step
when his bai (maid) beat him with a broom when he tried to impress her
after applying all the Axe products. cid:image010.gif@01CA2192.E9691400
No girl ever asked Vaibhav to call her
No girl ever asked Vaibhav to call her
“Where the **** is the Axe effect? I’ve been waiting for it for over
seven years. Right from my college to now in my office, no girl ever
agreed to even go out for a tea or coffee with me, even though I’m sure
they could smell my perfumes, deodorants and aftershaves. I always
applied them in abundance to make sure the girls get turned on as they
show in the television. Finally I thought I’d try to impress my lonely
bai who had an ugly fight with her husband and was living alone for over
a year. Axe effect my foot!” Vaibhav expressed his unhappiness.
Vaibhav claims that he had been using all the Axe products as per the
company’s instructions even since he first bought them. He argued that
if he couldn’t experience the Axe effect despite using the products as
directed, either the company was making false claims or selling fake
“I had always stored them in cool and dry place, and kept them away from
direct light or heat. I’d always use a ruler before applying the spray
and make sure that the distance between the nozzle and my armpit was at
least 15 centimeters. I’d do everything they told. I even beat up my
5-year-old nephew for coming near my closet, as they had instructed it
to keep away from children’s reach. And yet, all I get is a broom
beating from my ugly bai.” Vaibhav expressed his frustration.
Vaibhav claims that he had to do go a lot of mental suffering and public
humiliation due to the lack of Axe effect and wants HUL to compensate
him for this agony. An advocate in Karkardooma court, who happened to
mistake Vaibhav for some deodorant vendor when he entered the court
premises with all the bottles, has now offered to take up his case in
the court. HUL has been served a legal notice in this regard.
HUL has officially declined to comment on the case citing the subject to
be sub judice, but our sources inform that the company was worried over
the possible outcomes of the case. The company might argue that Vaibhav
was hopelessly unattractive and unintelligent and didn’t possess the
bare minimum requirements for the Axe effect to take place. Officially
HUL has not issued any statement, but legal experts believe that HUL
could have tough time convincing the court.
“HUL might be tempted to take that line of argument, but it is very
risky. There is no data to substantiate the supposition that
unattractive and unintelligent men don’t attract women. In fact some of
the best looking women have been known to marry and date absolutely
ghoulish guys. I’d suggest that the company settles this issue out of
court.” noted lawyer Ram Jhoothmalani said.

Saturday, October 24, 2009

Sathya Sai Medical Conference In Anaheim Oct 10-11

Sathya Sai Medical Conference In Anaheim Oct 10-11
Date Submitted: Thu Oct 01, 2009

ANAHEIM, CA – Health Care Professionals such as physicians, dentists, residents, fellows, medical and dental students will all be in attendance at the a Sathya Sai International Medical Conference in Anaheim, Oct 10-11, which will focus on the theme of Sri Sathya Sai – Ideal Health Care and Global Health Mission.

The conference will feature speakers from around the world who will discuss and give examples of how medical and dental care is being delivered to millions of people around the world who do not have health insurance and could not otherwise afford to pay for healthcare. There will also be discussions on looking into the future for new ways to reach out to those in need of medical care in our own communities.

Some specific topics that will be discussed will be 1.) How to start a free medical clinic run 100% by volunteers. 2.) Disaster relief work done during the hurricane Katrina. 3.) A model to provide health care to the homeless. 4.) A Bone Marrow Donor Program and how this is especially helpful for minorities. 5.) Preventive medicine.

For more: There is no registration fee for this conference.

India Journal Reference

The Sri Sathya Sai International Medical Committee has the honor of hosting an international medical conference on October 10 and 11, 2009 at the Anaheim Convention Center, Anaheim, California, U.S.A. The theme of the conference is “Sri Sathya Sai Ideal Healthcare and Sri Sathya Sai Global Health Mission.” The delivery of comprehensive state-of-the-art healthcare will be discussed at this international medical conference.

PLEASE NOTE: The registration deadline is September 12, 2009.

Since its inception, the Sathya Sai Organization has been deeply committed to providing selfless service to mankind through various humanitarian projects. One such service is the provision of state-of-the-art healthcare, free of cost to the sick and needy. In 1956, Bhagawan Sri Sathya Sai Baba inaugurated a General Hospital at Puttaparthi, India providing free primary healthcare services to the needy in the remote rural areas. This blossomed into two general hospitals and two super-specialty hospitals in India providing free primary, secondary and tertiary healthcare. These models of Sathya Sai Ideal Healthcare have inspired the Sathya Sai Global Health Mission. The philosophy, energy and dedication that created these medical institutions have now become an international movement over the last fifty years resulting in the extensive Sri Sathya Sai Healthcare System helping people worldwide. The healthcare providers in this system firmly believe in blending technology and medical excellence with love and compassion. Delivery of good healthcare to a whole patient is notably different from the delivery of medical care that targets a specific illness alone. The Sri Sathya Sai Ideal Healthcare System has inspired the transformation of thousands of healthcare providers to deliver free, comprehensive modern health services with love and compassion. It is in this milieu that the Sri Sathya Sai International Medical Conference on “Sri Sathya Sai Ideal Healthcare and Sri Sathya Sai Global Health Mission” will be hosted. The conference will include physicians, dentists, medical and dental students, residents and fellows in training from several specialties. Delegates will assemble to consider all aspects of healthcare.

If you are a physician, dentist, medical or dental student, resident or fellow in training and are interested in attending this conference please click here to register. For general information about Bhagawan Sri Sathya Sai Baba and His work, please visit the website of the Sri Sathya Sai Central Trust and the website of the International Sai Organization. For information on the medical projects undertaken by the Sri Sathya Sai Medical Trust in Prasanthi Nilayam please visit the website


Jag vill inledningsvis berätta för er att Backwaters faktiskt är en av de sevärdheter som utgör Lonely Planet’s top-ten things to do before you die list. Jag vet inte var på listan just Backwaters befinner sig, eller vilka sevärdheter som utgör de andra nio – men det är ovidkommande. Huvudsaken är att jag bestämt kan hänvisa till denna lista och påstå att  jag har sett något betydelsefullt. Några av er kanske undrar vad det är för något som är så spektakulärt att det hamnar på en sådan lista? Det ska jag försöka förklara för er. Det är ett ganska stort område som består av ett sammankopplat nätverk av kanaler och sjöar. Området ligger i södra delen av delstaten Kerala och sträcker sig parallellt med kustlinjen, en bit inåt land. Mycket mer än så vet jag inte. Man kan väl säga att det är exotisk version av Göta Kanal. Däremot har jag har ännu inte luskat ut vad det egentliga syftet är, men vackert är det i alla fall.

Det bästa sättet att upptäcka landskapet är att ge sig ut och bo på en husbåt. Och det var precis vad vi gjorde. Vi bokade en båt med en liten besättning som skötte navigationen och lagade vår mat (man blir snabbt bortskämd). Båtarna är av traditionellt slag och ser ut ungefär som ett gäng sjösatta hyddor, men är riktigt mysiga och erbjuder en någorlunda genuin kulturupplevelse.

Medan båten sakta puttrade fram längs kurvor och raksträckor låg vi alla på däck och latade oss. Kanalerna slingrar sig igenom ett grönt och frodigt landskap av vidöppna risodlingar, små byar och träskmark. Ofta kantas farlederna av smala landåsar, varpå det står rader av kokosnötspalmer och med jämna mellanrum små, enkla boningshus som vätter mot vattnet. När det blev kväll höll vi till på en lugn plats och beundrade den vackra stjärnhimmeln. Särskilt vackert var  alla eldflugor som dansade och blinkade frenetiskt i snåren därutanför. Det såg ungefär ut som att någon dragit en gammal, dåligt fungerande julbelysning över alla träd och buskar och sedan lämnat den kvar.

Jag vet inte riktigt om det var så fruktansvärt spektakulärt som vi hade förväntat oss av ett så lovprisat resmål. Det var verkligen vackert, men mest av allt var det avslappnande – vilket kanske är det mest önskvärda i en omgivning som är så intensiv som denna.

Thursday, October 22, 2009

South Africa or India: who holds the world record for handwashing?

South African children have set an official new Guiness World Record for the most number of people washing hands at one location, but a simultaneous event in India attracted more than eight times as many students.

About 15,000 students from 23 schools in Chennai converged under the blazing sun in Jawaharlal Nehru Stadium to celebrate Global Handwashing Day and break the previous record held since 22 October 2008 by Bhiddwa School Niketon of Dhaka, Bangladesh with 1,213 participants.

Photo: Indian Express

The programme in Chennai began almost an hour late. Luckily, the dignitaries kept their speeches short. Large screens placed in the stadium aired demonstrations on how to wash hands.

Soon after the speeches, the whistle blew and the children got into the act. They had bubble bottles, soaps and paper napkins all in place. And in less than 10 minutes, the event was over.

Though the children liked the idea of coming together and assembling in the stadium, the scorching heat posed a problem. “Our teachers insisted that we came, otherwise we would not have bothered about this,” said a group of children from a Corporation high school.

On the other hand, some students were really excited to be part of the event. “We knew that we are going to be part of a record-setting event. Despite being a bit tired, we find it great to be here,” said Saravan and friends from a school near Choolai.

The students were brought together by the government, World Health Organization and Lifebuoy to promote the habit of washing hands as a measure to prevent disease.

Bryan Habana washing hands with the children. Photo: Bongani Nkosi

At the same time in South Africa, local rugby hero Bryan Habana and 1,802 Gauteng schoolchildren were staging their own record breaking attempt.

Habana is part of the Gimme 5 for Germ-free Hands campaign led by Protex, an anti-bacterial soap brand, owned by Colgate Palmolive. The campaign has visited more than 1,200 primary schools throughout the country. On Global Handwashing Day about 1-million children from schools around South Africa washed their hands under the auspices of the brand.

The South African was officially recognised as a Guinness World Record by adjudicator Carl Saville, who flew out from the UK for the occasion.

Source: Indian Express, 16 Oct 2009

Lessons from outsourcing powerhouse India

Lessons from outsourcing powerhouse India

By Anna Valmero
First Posted 15:05:00 10/22/2009

Filed Under: business process outsourcing (BPO), Economy and Business and Finance

MANILA, Philippines – What has made India a powerhouse in the global outsourcing arena?

Innovation or ingenuity to solve issues is key to India’s success when it entered the BPO arena 10 years ago, said Dr. Ganesh Natarajan, vice chairman and chief executive of India’s Zensar Technologies.

This can be duplicated by the Philippines as it aims to move up the value chain of offshoring services by expanding to higher-end outsourcing services, re-engineering its talent and skills development programs for outsourcing professionals and adopting a poly-centric model for operations, he said.

With Asian countries such as the Philippines set to dominate 80-85 percent of the global outsourcing arena a decade from now, Natarajan said Asian countries should innovate by investing heavily on training people and optimizing processes to meet future demands from clients.

“The secret to India’s $71 billion ICT industry is not infrastructure but innovation. The Philippines over the last 10 years grew astonishingly by 60 percent. And if this will continue, it can hit at least $100 billion in revenues over the next decade,” said Natarajan.

In India, Natarajan said outsourcing firms have ongoing impact assessment programs that identify which skills were obsolete and optimize current process in terms of operational and cost efficiency.

Over time, non-voice services that offer add-on values such as business intelligence and analytical services will drive profit for outsourcing providers like the Philippines.

Like India before, voice and contact center services accounts for more than half of the present Philippine BPO market and the rest a mix of non-voice and higher-end services but will evolve depending on the goals and market direction of the industry players, said Natarajan.

To complement this, the Indian government, through partnerships with industry players and the academe, eyes to train within the next 10 years about 500 million Indians for the outsourcing space, said Natarajan.

“The skills and talent offerings of the labor force should best fit the demands of the industry and to do so, you must invest on developing that talent. Public-private partnerships are a cornerstone to this work, to ensure availability of talent pool and skills are always updated,” said Natarajan.

Innovation through these components can be followed by BPO firms in the Philippines to earn $100 billion in revenues from the industry 10 years from now, he said.

Talent strategy

Another Indian outsourcing expert, Global Talent Track chief executive Dr. Uma Ganesh said a comprehensive strategy for talent development was needed to complement the overall innovation strategy.

Talent development should address the “skills specialization” needed for the new verticals that a country would diversity into over the next 5 or 10 years.

“This would also mean that apart form the short-term needs of providing immediate skills to meet the industry’s needs today, the players, government and academia should start planning for additional skills in domain, technology and capabilities that can result in innovation,” said Ganesh in a separate interview.

“Customers would go to countries, which can provide the best talent anywhere in the world and for Philippines to go up the value chain and add higher value offerings, new skills and re-skilling current employees to specially adapt to the multi-modal information driven environment would be necessary,” she explained.

As with any business, scale is important to attract and retain large customers, she added.

Using technology to reach out to reach out to huge numbers and sections of students in a cost effective manner and with low or minimal dependence on experts or faculty is needed, Ganesh said.

Partnerships with institutions outside the country can also help build a time-ound program to learn best practices from other countries and re-align local skills development to global standards, Ganesh added.

Oscar Sanez, chief executive of the Business Processing Association of the Philippines (BPAP) said the industry group was aggressively forming tie-ups with international outsourcing agencies to learn and share best practices, promote the country as an outsourcing and offshoring destination and further develop its talent pool through continuous skills training.

Sanez said the Philippines was on track to meet the S100 billion revenue mark by 2020 as the local BPO industry continues to grow at an average rate of 30 percent annually.

By year-end, Sanez said the local BPO market would grow at 23 percent and earn between $7.3 and $7.5 billion in revenues, up from last year’s $6.1 billion earnings.

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Dill Mill Gayye - A Message to the Fans!!

Well I have been surfing for a long time try and get as much information about the return of the lead characters in the show. Well to be honest I could not get much information on it. But yes I did find a very good piece of article. By reading this I realized how much the show has affected the lives of millions of people around and also how this situation should actually be dealt with. This also opened by eyes in some way or another. Here is the article.

” My dear blog vasis….

Hope you are all doing well… Wish you all a very happy and a prosperous diwali…. its almost been months since i wrote a full fledged post on this blog.. the recent happenings however have urged me to come and write… irrespective of what opinions people hold on this issue… i always consider(ed) the blog my home and have taken liberties in speaking what i think will benefit one and all on the blog.. you can ignore it , if you dont come from the same line of thought….

At this point in time i am sooo tempted to say “ I told you so….” but i will not use those very words but go around the issue in my own words…. you all know what we are talking about… we are talking about the so called celebrity infidelity… that has hit the media like a storm…. we all know who we are talking about… he is so sweet, he is cute, he is an amazing guy… blah blah blah… i dont care… at this point in time, what i want each and every one of you to realise , is the fact that, atleast now, stop idolising on screen stars… this post is mainly targeted to those teenagers and kids who made Karan god… those people who still refuse to believe he could have cheated on his wife.. those crazy people who are ready to even justify his betrayal…. grow up guys… and wake up to the reality… that you shouldn’t involve yourself so much in a tv show that you forget that you have a life… and a REAL one at that…

This is actually the best time to make this post… DMG has a new set of faces… honestly DMG had served its prime.. but like us, the creatives also dont seem to be in a mood to let go… do you remember the 2.1 trp days of DMG? Today its barely 0.5…. chalo lets forget numbers… what the hell is happening on DMG???? Not now…. what the hell has been happening on DMG since January? Once everyone came to know about AR, what track did the story take? Did it evoke the same emotion it once did… when we saw the i love you i hate you confession? Or the holi confession? The bomb scene? The AR date? The tujh main rab dikhta hai number? I tried really hard to accept Jenny… cos after shilpa, before Suku came in she was the most obvious choice for Riddhima in my head… but she let me down… honestly when i think about it now, did i have to think so much about a tv show? Do anyone of us have to think so much about a tv show? Why do we have to wait for the clock to strike 8:30 every Monday to Thursday? Why does it matter when AR are not together? Why cant you easily accept Sid and Tammanna, in Place of Armaan and Riddhima, when we easily let go of Rahul and Juhi of Sanjeevani? Why are we constantly appealing to the creatives to change the story line so that nothing displeases us?

Honestly, DMG for a very very long time had been on a path of self destruction… the team had stopped thinking like a pro team.. they simply catered and fed audiences egos by providing innmerous moments and a flimsy storyline… they never were the conventional tv show in the first place…
All of this surely has done not just Karan, DMG and its team bad, its harmed us too… its raised the expectations of the audience to a level where its no longer considered criticism… its now called overt interference…. if karan doesn’t come to the set, we know… if jenny isnt around we know.. if suku doesn’t come for weeks we know we can contact who’s who of the team to know whats wrong… if Shilpa anand is on a holiday we still know… if all this were the admiration from a fans side it would have been fine.. today its much more than that.. today its like an obsession… DMG has created a false image and a hope in the hearts of women… it has made a prototype of a romantic hero… ARMAAN… who sadly doesn’t exist…. and the biggest awakening to the fact must have come when you guys saw, what the guy who played it for two years did to his own wife, his co star and his co-dancer did in his own life!

Need i say more? Just wake up and accept the reality…. Let DMG fade away gracefully… and accept that and move on in life as well..
niha “

Well I also agree with Niha that I too always wanted Jennifer as Ridhhima once Shilpa left the show, and yes once she did come she has been disappointing. In a way not really very disappointing but yes possibly she could not live up to the expectations I had created for her.

Also the message given by her that not to idolize the actors is absolutely correct. As personally I admire the characters more than the actors. And I always felt that the rest of the people also do the same thing that is why they accepted three different actors for Ridhhima. But this article has actually changed my direction of thinking, and if this is true that the majority idolize the actors more than the characters I must add that this is nothing but foolishness. Just for the fact that the characters are fictitious and are very well sketched out to be shown to the people. It is not necessary that the actors playing this character are the same. They may have similarities but it is not possible for both of them to be exactly the same. That is why I would like to add that people that are idolizing Karan Singh Grover are not wrong but they must realize the truth of his marriage. What he has done is not correct but we have no right to comment on his personal life. So it’s always better to idolize the character more because one can always imagine themselves in place of it and they can end up not being hurt even if the character changes its shades.

Coming to the story point of view where Niha says that we must carry on with our lives. In a way I do agree to this and also disagree. I at least wanted a happy ending to the love story of Armaan and Ridhhima and maybe then they could have faded the characters away. I think this solution would not have created so much of disappointment in the fans of the show. And yes whatever happens at the end of the day it’s just a show, so we need to believe in this thought and move ahead in our lives the way the show has moved on.

Well I guess whatever Niha has mentioned in the article is exactly what should be done. So I hope many will read it and try to follow what she is actually trying to say.

From my archives - Ode to Hampi

Hey, found this in my old archives and wanted to share this.. Hampi – one of the most beautiful places I ever visited.. Felt like i re-lived the experience, when i read this.. To all those who haven’t gone there, plsssss go.. and to those who have, this will take u down memory lane.. Enjoy..


All these years, she stood still and sturdy
Silently watching the rise and fall of many an empire;
Bearing the onslaught of many an enemy,
Tears in her eyes….


Sun, water, light, blood & fire
She has seen all draped in her green attire;
Arched like a palace, the beauty of which seems only for my eyes,
Like the lion-god’s statue, five times man-size;


She takes on different shapes, that of an idol, of a pillar or just plain boulders…
Many a sculpture has failed to affect her inner beauty with his carvings though…
She is all beautiful, all dramatic…
Within her overflow human emotions, that even a human fails to elicit..


As she sits contemplating by the river..
Each wave washes over sand, under skin..
As weeds weave themselves around her,
She fondles them gently, narrates her story to them,
In a language no human can understand..


With every passing day, with every passing night..
She makes them beautiful – the moon and the sunshine..
And to anyone who sits with her, understands her language..
She makes them powerful – their soul and their mind..


And there she stands tall by all standards..
The aide memoire of the great empire..
An ode to her is all but possible..
Coz she is the cause and result of one’s own desire..

Sunday, October 18, 2009

50,000 fine drinking publicly

Rs. 50,000 fine drinking publicly

Delhi Govt. on Monday took a big step by purposing a bill that says those who caught consuming alcohol on roadside, cars or outside eateries could be penalized up to Rs 50,000. Such offenders also face a non-bailable jail term. The new excise Bill has got a final nod from the Union Home ministry and will be presented in the winter session of the Delhi Assembly this December. If cleared, it will become a law.

The proposed Act also proposes death sentence for those caught manufacturing spurious liquor. The excise Bill sorts violations of liquor consumption in open spaces in three categories. Offenders who consume liquor in a public place could be asked to cough up a fine of up to Rs 5,000. Those caught drinking at a public place and creating nuisance face a fine of up to Rs 10,000 and a maximum jail term of three months.

The proposed excise Act also says police stations may no longer be required to stock large amounts of liquor seized in various cases — a provision that often helps offenders escape effective prosecution. Malkhanas in police stations are usually full of liquor but non-production of such liquor vitiates the trial, an excise official said. This provision has been done away with in the proposed Act. Delhi Sikhs are happy with this new proposal and we demand Punjab Govt. to take steps like this Kurkshetra is a holy city for hindus therefore  Govt. make this zone alcohol free and this zone is called dry zone but thanx to our Punjab Govt. Holy city Amritsar still have liquor shops.

Eóin's Goan Birthday

I think I was in Goa for 4 days but it’s very hard to tell… Time flew by around us as we did nothing; a trip to the beach here, some food there, drinks at night under the stars… Our group had swelled as well. Now myself and the Swedes were joined by Ryan (a mad Kiwi), Matt (a sometimes quiet lad from Bristol), Damien and Leah (a stereotypical Irish couple!) and occasionaly Antoinette (South African who I’d met in Mumbai) and Faye Holiday (English girl with the best name ever). We all hatched the plan to go to Baga for the night of my Birthday as it’s slightly more built up than Anjuna and that plan turned out to be a good one!

We found a place doing two for one drinks which should have been more than enough to keep us happy. As I awoke the next afternoon face-down on my balcony and saw the bottles of rum and state of our room it all started to come back to me. The attached photos should describe the night sufficiently! It was brilliant though and they even pooled together to get me presents which was very nice.

The following day was a write off but later that evening myself and Ryan were moving on again to a place called Hampi. Now for some advice: Never get a sleeper bus in India. As you can imagine I was looking forward to getting some sleep and since we’d booked an overnight sleeper bus to Hampi I thought I’d get more than enough. I was wrong. First things first; the roads in India are terrible, especially just after monsoon season. We were right over the rear wheels so every bump sent us skyward, every turn flung us across the bed… it was like being on a waltzer… but for 13 hours! The sleeping tablets everyone took worked wonders, but not for me. I didn’t sleep a wink. The night was spent headbutting the people next to you.

Then there’s the people working on the bus who spend the night shouting at each other, at passengers, and at the driver. At one stage, while picking up passengers, the workers got locked out of the bus as it started driving off. They ran after it screaming and beating the windows with their fists. Unfortunately they managed to get back on. To surmise: There is no sleeping on an Indian Sleeper bus.

Saturday, October 17, 2009

Climate Change SOS: Maldives Cabinet Meets Underwater

Maldives President Mohamed Nasheed signs a declaration during the first underwater cabinet meeting in the Maldives, October 17, 2009. The Maldivian president and ministers held the world's first underwater cabinet meeting on Saturday, in a symbolic cry for help over rising sea levels that threaten the tropical archipelago's existence. REUTERS/Maldives Government/Handout

Its not far from the reality this tiny nation faces…..If U.N. predictions are correct, most of the low-lying Maldives will be submerged by 2100 (Reuters)

This is why it matters to India

If at first you don’t succeed, Chai Chai again

It’s only been a couple of weeks but already it feels like we’ve been here ages, and we already have the smug feeling of being “seasoned travellers”…

After the last post, we quickly found the cheapest bar near our hotel to warm up for our last night in Delhi. We stumbled across a club with a live jukebox – a band made up of a variety of east-asian nationals who took requests. And of course every band is not without their groupies – we made our first Indian mates there, a group from Manali in the North of India, Himalayas who insisted we should travel 13 hours north to visit their home. Tempting though it was, we stuck to our original plan and caught our first train the next day to Agra.

Going for budget over comfort, we have been choosing the cheaper tickets for train rides. It’s no luxury but with a few cups of chai (Indian tea) from the chai-wallah to feed our ever-growing caffeine addictions, the journeys pass fairly quickly, although not helped by the inevitable two hour delay on every train.

The train eventually brought us to Agra which is home to the Taj Mahal. Aside from the Taj and a fort, there is not much of interest in the city and we dubbed it “the second ****hole of India” (after Delhi) during one of our more cynical moments! The Taj itself is a complete contrast – seeing it just after sunrise was brilliant (except for the getting up at 5.30 part) although we appreciated it just as much from our hotel rooftop in the evening whilst drinking a chilled Kingfisher.

As we write this we have also covered a large part of Rajasthan – going east on the train through Jaipur (the pink city), Jodhpur (the blue city) and Jaisalmer (the golden city) where we are now. We’ve now seen enough forts and palaces to last a lifetime but the highlight of each day seems to be the food. It’s turning into a gastro-tour! We used Japipur to relax after the hustle and bustle of Agra and Delhi, Jodhpur was pretty but we had exhausted the city after half a day, however Jaisalmer is a definite favourite city so far. Jaisalmer is a lot cleaner and more laid back (probably due to the heat) and has a more European feel to it. We are still recovering from memorable 2 day camel trek into the Thar desert where we slept on sand dunes under the stars. Tonight we will celebrate Diwali, no doubt with lots of ‘crack’ and food, before heading south to Udaipur tomorrow evening.

We promise to upload some photos when we find an internet cafe with a good enough connection!


Rickshaw driver: Hey, you want ride? Indian helicopter!

Ollie: Yeah, our train was delayed by a couple of hours, not sure why…
Hotel Manager: *acknowledging smile* India!

Mikey (admiring the Taj Mahal): It’s quite big, isn’t it.

Mikey (still admiring the Taj Mahal): It’s not got as much blue as I expected…

Indian guy: India is great but always late…

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Project Surya Aims to Clear the Air and Reduce Global Warming

Welcome to Blog Action Day 2009! Starting early this morning in the Far East until late tonight in the Pacific Islands, more than 8,700 bloggers from 148 countries are stimulating a global conversation about many aspects of climate change. For me, the choice was easy – I write about science, so of course I’ll blog about the science of climate change. In the spirit of the “action” part of the day, I’m focusing on a unique project in India, what you might call an action-oriented scientific study of black carbon (BC).* [My regular readers know that I write about BC quite a lot – for you some of this will be a review, but please read on for some exciting new developments].

BC is a result of incomplete combustion of fossil and biomass fuels. Research suggests that BC is second only to CO2 in its contribution to climate change. BC absorbs the solar radiation reflected by the Earth’s surface and clouds. This absorption of sunlight contributes to the characteristic black or brown color of smoke and haze. Because BC only stays in the atmosphere for a week or so, the benefits of emissions BC reductions will be felt almost immediately. Reducing BC emissions by a factor of five – which is precisely what has been done in developed countries – could slow the effects of climate change for a decade or two. This could buy time to allow CO2 and other GHG reductions to take effect.

BC is not only a major climate agent; the indoor air pollution that BC is a part of is the 4th leading cause** of death in developing countries, resulting in 1.5 – 2 million premature deaths a year. Replacing smoky cookstoves and heating fires with more efficient ones, cleaner fuels, or renewable energy can improve the public health of millions, particularly woman and young children.

Woman and children are most affected by the pollution from smoky cookstoves and heating fires.

Project Surya is studying the impacts of BC and other SLPs on the region’s climate as well as the immediate climate and public health benefits of reducing their emissions. Phase One will target three regions in rural India: one in the Himalayas, another in the Indo-Gangetic Plain (IGP) and a third in South India. The IGP is one of the major source regions for the BC that is contributing to the melting of Himalayas glaciers. Project Surya will provide sustainable, effective, incentive-based plans to enable 5,000-10,000 households in each region to switch to less-polluting technologies. The project’s ultimate goal is to guide the 3 billion people who depend on solid biofuels to cleaner, renewable energy sources. “Surya” means sun in Sanskrit, referring to the solar energy that the project will promote.

What distinguishes Project Surya from other such efforts is that it will be accompanied by the most comprehensive and rigorous scientific evaluation to date on the impact of emissions reduction on global warming, air pollution and public health. Much of the data will be collected by the participants themselves, enabling them to see the effect of their actions. These data will be collected by instrument towers in each region then combined with advanced data from NASA’s A-Train satellite to measure the regional climate impacts.

Read more about Project Surya at:

Think this is exciting. You should follow me – here.

* Black carbon, tropospheric ozone (trop. O3) and methane (CH4) are considered short-lived pollutants because they stay in the atmosphere for very short amounts of time. The atmospheric lifetime of BC is about a week, trop. O3 a few weeks, and CH4 twelve years. CO2, N2O and halocarbons have atmospheric lifetimes of hundreds to thousands of years.

** 4th leading cause after unsafe sex, malnutrition and poor sanitation.

27 handset vendors enter Indian telecom space in a quarter ???

Indian telecom industry has not been impacted much by global economic slowdown and many new vendors see this as opportunity to enter Indian telecom space. With the 3G auction around the corner, 27 new handset vendors have entered the market in just one quarter, according to Economic Times.

These new mobile companies are coming up with dual SIM cards, full Qwerty keyboard and at a cheaper price to attract more customers. Mobile handset sales in India recorded a 6.7 percent increase to 100.9 million in the year ended June 30, as compared to 94.6 million in the year before. Even Mindtree has entered the telecom space through its acquired company Kyocera Wireless. China Wireless Technologies’ Indian subsidiary, Coolpad Communications, is targeting Rs. 800 crore revenue in next five years in India. The company is set to invest Rs. 400 crore as capex and opex over the next three years.

According to a new research study by IDC India, the new vendors have ensured that the overall mobile handset shipments touched 6.3 percent as compared to 1.2 percent during the June 2008 quarter, when the new vendors totaled 11 percent. “The shipments from such new players who have entered the Indian market in the last 12 to 18 months grew six-fold with 6.41 million unit sales,” said Deepak Kumar, Associate Vice-President (Research) of IDC, India.

In terms of shipment, Nokia still leads the market share in India with 56.8 percent followed by Samsung with a 7.7 percent share and LG with 5.4 percent share in the 12-month period ended June 30, according to the report. ‘With the mobile handsets market in India growing in volumes , device manufacturers have started focusing on niche and emerging segments based on lifestyle profiling of buyers ,” said Naveen Mishra, an Analyst at IDC India.

“We see the market getting further crowded. At the same time, an accelerated evolution of the market is at work, as rising competition forces vendors to offer a combo of volume and value,” said Kumar.

Source: SI

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

PE firms seek mega deals in education, healthcare

Although private equity (PE) firms remain optimistic on investment opportunities in sectors such as education and healthcare, the deal scenario does not show an encouraging trend.

Data from VCCEdge, VCCircle’s financial research unit, shows divergent trends in these two sectors in the first nine months of 2009.

Across nine deals in each sector this year, PE investments in education tripled to $108 million (Rs503.2 crore) in January to September against $35 million in 2008, but healthcare suffered a steep fall.

To read full article click here

Market May Continue to See Sideway Movements: Experts

Market To Move sideways : Expert

After last week’s correction, witnessing a dip of 492 points, market experts said this week might continue to see sideway movements with slight downward bias.

They opined it was basically the momentum play which took the markets beyond 17,000 points and therefore downside movement was expected.

They maintained that currently the markets are over stretched and any rise in the short-term is unlikely.

They ruled out that Reliance’s bonus shares or Infosys’s better than expected earnings will stoke the markets with positive sentiments this week.

In the previous week, CNX Nifty declined 138.2 points or 2.72 per cent on a weekly basis to close at 4,945.20 last Friday against last week’s close of 5,083.40.

Similarly, Bombay Stock Exchange Sensitive Index, or Sensex, slipped below 17,000 mark to close the week at 16,642.66, down 2.87 per cent.

Brokers pointed out that this week, Nifty may bottom out at 4,800 levels. It should not come below this as fundamentals of the country are intact.

Last week, indices which ended in the green include consumer durables, fast moving consumer goods, health care, metals and power.

On the other hand, auto, bankex, capital goods, IT, oil & gas and realty index closed in the red.

Jagannadham Thunuguntla, equity head at SMC Capitals, said,

“Markets are facing resistance. It is difficult to expect sectors to outperform.  Though some stocks could do well.  But it seems, market is not in a mood to hear any good news.”

This week, experts are betting big on telecom, infrastructure, consumer durables and banking space.

They held bearish stand on sectors like IT and auto.

Experts said that from this week onwards, corporate earning seasons will start which market will closely watch for.

Sunday, October 11, 2009

Jugaad - A Uniquely Indian Life Concept Worth Saluting

Dave aur Jenny were two New Yorkers who moved to Delhi and wrote about it on their blog Our Delhi Struggle. We might have chosen another title, but that’s another matter.

But they discovered Jugaad, the concept of ‘making do in the face of adversity’. They do a good job describing it so you should read it at the source. Below is one small pictorial depiction of it.

On an unrelated note – we are often asked how we find our stories. Here’s the journey a typical story takes to land on YHL – We were on HuffPo watching SNL’s take on Obama’s Peace Prize which led us to Rachel Maddow’s shakedown on Ralph Lauren’s photoshopping horror of emaciated models, where Rachel mentioned, which being one of our favorites, reminded us to head there and see what’s hot India related, and pointed us to Jugaad that brought us to the source, which after getting over being ticked by the word ’struggle’ as a description of life in Delhi, we loved their take on Jugaad and brought it to you.

Primus D'mello's Flickrstream:Jugaad by Primus D'Mello. strange contraptions with enfield diesel model bodies and tractor cart rears

Stamp on RK Narayan released

First Day Cover and Stamp released by India Post in memory of R.K.Narayan. Date Of Issue:-10.10.2009.

The Karnataka Postal Circle, on Saturday released a commemorative postage stamp to mark the 103rd birth anniversary of legendary writer, novelist R K Narayan.

Good to see that the stamp design team have included Laxman’s cartoons, that so perfectly matched Narayan’s stories.

After reading and seeing the books of Laxman, I got to know that he also illustrated for the stories of his elder brother, RK Narayan. I remembered the serial “Malgudi Days”. One day, I kept seeing the cartoons accompanying a story by Narayan and just as a timepass, read the story. I was really surprised that how the story and the illustration could match so much. I read many other stories by Narayan and saw that the sketches were just perfect for the story. Gradually, I started reading all the short stories, essays, novels and articles written by RK Narayan. I collected all his books and got to know more about him through the ‘Frontline’ magazine, which brought out a special issue on the occasion of Narayan’s 90th birthday in 1996.

By now I was addicted to reading Narayan and seeing Laxman!

[Read full story]

Awaiting November 1, when Dr.Rajkumar’s stamp will be released!


Posts related to RK Narayan on RwB.

Saturday, October 10, 2009

Everything is Bigger in Punjab

Having limited my travels around India only to its quicksand metropolises and the wild mountains of the Northeast, I jumped at the offer of attending a Round Square Conference in Nabha, Punjab. Though I was slightly disappointed about missing the Golden Temple – the pride of Punjab – and strolling down the bustling streets of Chandigarh as I had dreamed of doing after watching the romantic Rab Ne Bana Di Jodi (”there is an extraordinary love story in every ordinary jodi”), I was still glad that I would at least be adding another state to my “List of Indian States that I have Been To or Passed Through”. Besides, Punjab is said to harbour good-looking mundas and I was eager to have that belief-standing-on-shaky-grounds confirmed.

Alas, it was not to be, I suppose, for when I crossed Haryana and her fancy new government offices and got onto the national highway squashed between the succulent sugarcane fields of Punjab, I had not the chance to lay my eyes upon a single borderline attractive munda. I gave up the search then and there. I was mildly interested in the beginning to start with. Moreover, the men and women of Punjab were sword-wielding and religion-crazy warriors once upon a time. Not my crowd, thanks.

Sticking my face to the dusty window of the claustrophobic car, I watched as verdant fields passed me by, as men in salmon-pink and mustard-yellow turbans roared by in motorcycles, as fattened water buffaloes yawned as if to almost swallow the blinding sun, as children scurried surreptitiously out of school gates left ajar. And I felt something swelling inside me. Something different: it was not the sweat sticking to my shirt; neither was it the dry, static heat that made my hair stand on its end; and it certainly wasn’t Rupal the Driver’s covert glances at my thighs. It was an Eureka! feeling, more like, as I had just discovered what makes this colossal state so different from the rest of India: everything is bigger in Punjab!

Everything is bigger. From the designer billboards dotting the smooth roads to the freshly painted milestones; from the salivating mongrels spreading rabies to the technicoloured trucks, the kings of the road; from the rambunctious kudis with ample derrieres to the squealing pigs swathed in layers of grime and mud at the butcher’s. Hell, even their vegetables were fat and juicy!

Still gaping like a loonybin at the overwhelming size of everything in front of my eyes, I asked Rupal the Driver the question that was foremost in my mind, “Saabji, sab cheez itna bada kaise hain Punjab mein?” At this, Rupal the Driver bellowed with laughter – at my poor Hindi or the question, I know not which – and said, “Madamji, because everything is smaller in Assam!”

I instantly fell into a sullen slumber.

pure punjabi

Thursday, October 8, 2009

India flood disaster prompts emergency response

A vast multitude of poor villagers in southern India are trekking back to washed-out homes and ruined farmlands after the worst rains in 100 years set off devastating floods in early October.

Southern Baptist field partners are assessing needs and preparing an emergency response for some of the estimated 1.5 million people who are leaving relief camps to see what, if anything is left of their homes, said Francis Horton, who with his wife, Angie, directs work in Central and South Asia for Baptist Global Response.

“Local partners tell me conditions are very bad and it appears the principal needs right now are emergency food and water,” Horton said. “Please pray for the affected people in this area to get the relief they need. The state of Karnataka has been a focal point for persecution of Christians this past year.”

About 300 people are confirmed dead and thousands more are missing in Andhra Pradesh and Karnataka states, according to news reports. The floods came just as many farmers had planted winter crops – much of which now has been washed away or damaged. To compound the problem, family food stores were destroyed with their homes, leaving many people with nothing to eat.

The area had been suffering from months of drought before the week of torrential downpours that caused the flooding.

“We’re able to respond quickly in emergencies like this because Southern Baptists have given so generously to their World Hunger Fund and disaster response. They are truly people who care about people in need,” said Jim Brown, BGR’s U.S. director. “With so many disasters in recent weeks, we hope they will make an extra effort to reach out to the millions of people in India, Indonesia, and the Philippines who need to experience the compassion of Jesus Christ in their time of need.”

Updates on the relief effort will be available at, along with information on how to give to Southern Baptist disaster response and the World Hunger Fund.

A Typical Day?

I’m sure that many of you are wondering what a typical day looks like for me. It’s hard to answer because there isn’t really a “typicalness” to any day

But I’ll try.

The day usually begins with me waking up due to some car horn honking or music playing eaaarly in the morning. I go back to sleep. The second time I wake up I eat breakfast and usually discover some new bug bite that appeared during the night. But no worries, I think most are just the work of mosquitoes. During breakfast I usually skim through the local newspapers. Usually the front page is full of the latest militant separatist group conflict in the NorthEast. Just this week 12 villagers were killed in Assam, the state next door to Meghalaya. Don’t worry mom & dad, Meghalaya’s stable! But for many other states it is not the case. If you think of it, pray for peace in the NorthEast.

After breakfast I leave for the office. I hike up the hill nicknamed “Jacob’s Ladder” by the locals. It’s a steep climb but a refreshing start to the day. At the top of the hill I make my way through the traffic and people to the office.

Work begins with office devotions. We sing a few songs, someone shares a reflection on a passage and then we share prayer requests and pray together. I love it

Then I settle in at my desk, shooing away ants or other bugs who insist on sharing it with me.

A few minutes later it’s tea time.

And then I start my work. But yesterday, for example, the power was shut off for maintenance in our part of the city and I had about 20 minutes of battery power left on my laptop. We discovered that the power would be off until 4pm. What to do…I ended up joining some staff on a trip to the Block Development Office to discuss the registration of the Self Help Groups in the Urban project. The conversation was conducted in Khasi so I just sipped my cup of tea and ate the sweet potato that was so generously offered to me.

We returned to the office and I chatted with my coworkers while we waited for the power to come back on. I enjoyed getting to know the staff a bit better.

The power came back on and we went back to work for an hour. And then it was time to go.

On my walk back home I’ve taken to trying out a new shop every night.  Yesterday I stopped in a bookstore that I found out was run by Catholic Sisters. It had the most random book collection ever. But I saw Jean Vanier’s Becoming  Human for only 60 rupees so I will most definitely be back.

I get home and shortly after I join the girls in the hostel for the evening Vespers, a time of worship, sharing and prayer.

Then it’s dinner time, which is early for here as many eat dinner as late as 9:30-10:30pm.

But like I said, typical doesn’t really exist. Beginning next Monday I’ll be spending the next 2 weeks working with the urban project here in Shillong which will include evening site visits. Then I’ll be in Patharkhamah, a village in northern Meghalaya for a week followed by a little detour to Guwahati to visit the Priscilla Centre ( November will be a bit more office time but there’s talk of a trip to Kolkata (crossing my fingers!).

But I hope that gives you a tiny taste of my days here

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

@Changi Airport

It was fine rainy morning today. The roads were wet with light drizzle. The atmosphere was really cool and I started off from house @6:15 in the morning for Changi Airport. It was the first time that I started off so early from home. I was under impression that roads will not be that crowded and public transport will have enough space but what I found was contrary to my belief. But still it was very enjoyable journey to Changi Airport.

From Changi airport, I had to collect some stuff from stranger which mom had sent from Ahmedabad. That fellow was coming by Kingfisher’s flight from Mumbai. Singapore government has made Changi such a world class airport that whoever comes to the Airport will become fan of it. I reached airport quite early and had ample time to do what I want to. On Indian airports, big problem is what to do except buying magazine and read it but situation is not the same with the Changi Airport.

First on my windows mobile, I connected to WiFi network using Wireless@SG. I checked my mails, checked new posts in my feed reader, read what’s going on in Big B’s mind, saw snaps of how Shilpa Shetty celebrated her holiday’s in Maldives, found out who has been locked inside Big Boss’s house in season 3, etc. etc. After a while it was difficult for me to concentrate on small screen of my mobile. So I went for window shopping. Not many shops were open though in the lounge but still you can do some good time pass. You can not think of buying anything here coz it costs more (that’s pretty obvious). After that I came and checked on the wide screen that Kingfisher’s flight has already been landed so I sat on the chair right opposite the belt on which the luggage for the flight was supposed to come. On the adjacent belts, there were luggage of three flights one from Paris, one from Barcelona and one from Mumbai. I found few white skinned people around me in arrival lounge waiting for their loved ones coming from either Paris or Barcelona. The moment their loved ones are out in arrival lounge these fellows will rush towards them, hug them, kiss them, give pack and warmly greet them. Well, you can see the joy of reunion on the faces of these white skinned (perhaps French) public. I found their behaviour care free and bit loud. In front of my eyes I was seeing two different cultures. In English culture they express their love, passion, respect, etc. by giving pack while Indians were doing “पैरी पोना" as a mark of respect to elders and giving simple hug to their loved ones. Well, that’s the difference of culture what else I can say.

I saw the cabin crew members of both Jet and Kingfisher airlines coming out. Well, if you want my vote on the dressing of these two air lines’ air hostesses, than my vote will definitely go to King fisher. Jet’s Yellow dress is nowhere near to Kingfisher’s dark red dress. Scene of all the air hostesses coming out to the arrival lounge in one queue pushing their red bags (yup the bag’s color was also red so that it can match with their dresses) in disciplined manner was like seeing some army troop marching. But this troop was really glamorous though. Well, I was least interested in seeing the yellow troop of jet.

One thing I noticed is 95% of the travellers were carrying spirits with them. It is because it is  quite cheaper to buy liquor from duty free shops located inside. No matter it’s Indian/White, No matter person is young/60 year old lady, no matter it’s Man/woman, everyone had liquor with them to keep them in high spirits. Last time I had bought tequila for just 20+ S$ from airport’s duty free shops. The same bottle could have cost me around 50+ S$ outside. So who will not take price benefit if they can.

Finally, I managed to find the person from whom I had to collect the stuff. But during this time it was really good experience observing the people, different cultures, behaviours, etc. It was indeed pleasure experience.

Next week I will once again I will be @Changi Airport. But next time I will be their as traveller as I will be flying to India for annual vacation. I have decided to be at the Airport early and enjoy some more moments and making some more observations.

First Meeting of National Ganga River Basin Authority Held

Various decisions were taken during the first meeting of the National Ganga River Basin Authority held in India’s capital recently.

The first meeting of the National Ganga River Basin Authority (NGRBA) was held on Monday (October 5) under the Chairmanship of the Prime Minister, Manmohan Singh in India’s capital Delhi.

The meeting was attended by the Chief Ministers of the states of Uttarakhand and Bihar, Union Ministers of Urban Development, Water Resources, Science & Technology and Environment and Forests, besides the Deputy Chairman Planning Commission.

In the meeting the following decisions were taken.

Approval for Mission Clean Ganga: No untreated municipal sewage and industrial effluent to enter Ganga by 2020 : The Authority decided that under Mission Clean Ganga it will be ensured that by 2020 no untreated municipal sewage and industrial effluents flow into Ganga.

Currently there is a sewage treatment capacity of only about 1000 mld (million litres per day) against 3000 mld sewage being generated in the towns along Ganga.

An estimated investment of Rs 15,000 crores over next 10 years will be required to create the necessary treatment and sewerage infrastructure.

It was agreed that the required resources will be provided by Centre and States over ten-year period to be shared suitably between Centre and states after Planning Commission consultations.

New and innovative models for implementation like, for instance, special purpose vehicles to be adopted.

While comprehensive river basin management plan will be ready by December, 2010, on-going sewage treatment projects to be put on fast-track and states to formulate DPRs for new such projects in critical pollution hotspots and major towns on Ganga and major tributaries by November 30, 2009.

Tripartite MOAs will be signed by February 1, 2010 and initial portfolio of projects will be sanctioned by March 1, 2010.

Union Ministry of Environment and Forests to work with states and prepare specific action plans for dealing with the problem of industrial pollution in Ganga Basin by January 31, 2010.

The issue of hydro electric projects In the upper reaches of Bhagirathi (Loharinag Pala , Pala Maneri and Bhairon Ghati) to be studied by Union Ministry of Environment and Forests and Power and report submitted to NGRBA in 60 days time.

A Standing Committee of NGRBA will be constituted headed by Union Finance Minister to meet more frequently and review implementation.

An empowered Steering committee headed by Union Environment Secretary is to be set up for fast track clearance of projects on JNNURM lines.

Union Ministry of Environment and Forests will also create separate and distinct professional team to service the NGRBA and the Empowered Standing Committee.

Courtesy : Press Information Bureau

Sunday, October 4, 2009

My first day in Delhi

I landed this morning at 9 am in Delhi after a long and not so comfortable night at the airport in Mumbai. I slept for about 2-3 hours, somehow curled up on a bench somewhere.

But the good news is that everything worked out well.  The driver from the hotel was there, holding the up the sign with my name. What a relief. But honestly, Delhi is not as bad as I imagined. After everything I read in the travel guide about the touts everywhere I expected much worse. Ok, maybe I haven’t hit the areas yet where they will swarm on tourists like prey. Or maybe it is true that I’m already used to all of this. After all, it’s not the first time I’m in India…

Delhi seems suprisingly green and lush, full of parks and gardens and wonderful tree lined alleys. After a nap and a shower I decided to get a driver to take me around. Ok, yes, I admit, the luxury version traveler.

Actually, it’s quite strange for me this time. Usually when I come to India I come for something: a retreat, a class or something. Not this time. I’m really here only for just for me and just me. Which takes the traveling to yet another level also for my standards. I felt a little lost this afternoon, having a nice but stubborn driver who insisted on showing me the places “normal tourists like a lot”. Well, I don’t want to sound like a snob but I don’t consider myself a normal tourist. So it took me a while to convince him that no, I’m not interested in yet another monument or another shopping mall. I would rather just take the shortest way to the next temple. In the end we made it to the Bangla Sahib – the biggest Shik temple in Delhi. It was quite impressive and enjoyable to just sit there for a little while. The prasad after the darshan and the pakoori at the street stand afterwards were a real treat.

The good news for tomorrow is that I got in touch with Shakun tonight and she readily offered for her driver to pick me up tomorrow morning to take me to her house from where we can figure out my plan for the day. Also, Mister Roy has offered to give me some tips. It’s really great to see that through Master’s blessings I do have a network of people and helpers all over the world. One could almost say what Astara says for Astarians: An Arhatic Yogi in need never walks alone.

An evening with Pakistani students in JNU Campus: A first-hand report of the interactive session

A delegation of some 40 Pakistanis was in the JNU campus for an interactive sessions with JNU students yesterday evening at the Sutlej Hostel mess of JNU campus (which proved to be small for the occasion).

The programme was scheduled to a begin at 9:30 pm but the guests arrived at about 11 pm due to a traffic situation and a bus driver with little knowledge of the Delhi routes. There were more than 10 women [all of them vivacious] in the Pakistani delegation unlike in the JNU audience which had very few women (this was also something that was rued by the guests).

Most of the visitors were students [Journalism students, BBA course, European Studies, Environmental Science, LLB student, M. Phil Sociology etc.] from various universities and institutes in Pakistan. It was quite an interactive session full of shero-shayari and camaraderie with members from both sides speaking alternatively which was followed by a Q and A session. Saeeda Deep [peace activist from Pakistan] was leading the delegation. Prof Vijay Kumar, Gandhian Scholar [Bhagalpur University, Bihar] also addressed the students among others.

Saeeda Deep [the middle-aged lady in the green salwar suit] like a true leader, spoke very little and wanted to give all the time to others [students]. She, among other things, insisted that there were forces on both sides that did not want Indo-Pak friendship [for nefarious reasons like sale of weaponry etc.]. She thanked Indians for the hospitality and invited people to Pakistan asking them not to judge Pakistan on the basis of the media-bashing.

Sandeep Singh [JNUSU President], Dhananjay Tripathi [former JNUSU president], Anand Pandey [National General Secretary, NSUI], Jahid [lecturet, DU], Samar Pandey were some speakers from the Indian side. The programme was convened by Prakash K Ray who narrated many anecdotes from his experiences on conducting such meetings in the past.

A soft-spoken Hajra, [the girl in the first photo here] spoke in chaste English about her experience on the visit. She said her family was against her visit to India. She said the “wrong perspective” totally changed after coming to India [everybody was so supportive from the auto driver to the bus driver "like in our homeland"]! She remarked that our food, culture, tradition was all same then “why do we need the visa and borders?”

An ebullient Hasaan [the bespectacled buy sitting on the left of Saeeda; student of Environmental Science?] thundered a warm Salam Walekum which got its obvious reply from the JNU audience! He said he was from Punjab and Punjab [Pak] to Punjab [India] was not different at all ["culture, jabaan" all similar]. He insisted that we were “friends forever”, friends for life and these “chhoti mulakatein” were very significant as katra-katra hi dariya banta hai!

Our Pakistani friends [the guy on the extreme right in the above photo in particular, a mass communication student, he was also interviewed by the BBC Hindi reporter present there] regretted the fact that Indian Media was always busy portraying Pakistan in a negative light ["hamare ghar me jhagde ho jaate hain aapke channels ke chalte!"]. He also suggested the audience to ask the Indian government to allow Pakistani channels in India. The Pakistani girls painstakingly explained that Pakistani media was quite sober in reporting news about India unlike the Indian media. Some other questions related to Abul Kalam, Bhagat Singh, the status of minorities in Pakistan, representations from Pak administered Kashmir in peace delegations, extremists in Pakistan [Wahabi presence in universities] etc. and the Pakistani students handled the questions with frankness [the girls often interjected and added more info and balanced the answers].

The Pakistani students did not mince words while criticising their own history, political culture and government [Zia-Ul-Haque's Islamizing regime was frequently lambasted, for example, by the Pakistani students]. The general mood was in favour of Indo-Pak friendship [dismantling the Wagah border by the united strength of the people on both sides], people to people contact and an end to warmongering by politicians on both sides.

An interesting student in the Pakistani delegation was this guy [wearing the Che tee; can't recall his name] who is a JNU aspirant. He handled many questions from the audience and even asked revolutionary strategies from the JNU comrades [it was kind of 'anticipatory socialisation' for him]! Samar Pandey, drawing from his wealth of experiences in Allahabad University and JNU campus, suggested him the strategies ["mobilising people" should be your primary aim] but stopped short of suggesting any violent methods.

Samar Pandey was also one of the most applauded speakers of the evening. He introduced an “amendment” [it's 'all of Hindustan' and 'not just JNU' that welcomes you all] and spoke on the irrelevance of borders and regretted that ‘muskurahat ka rishta’ [the smile that people of various nationalities flash at each other when they meet in a metro or elsewhere] was not given the primacy in the modern day world.

A lot of shero-shayari happened given the mood:

दिल से उठता है या जान से उठता है
ये धुंआ सा कहाँ से उठता है?!

अब मजहब कोई ऐसा चलाया जाए
की इंसान को इंसान बनाया जाए!

बस इतनी सी बात पर उसने मुझे दंगाई लिखा है
क्यूंकि मेरे हर घर के बर्तन पे ISI लिखा है!

दुश्मनी जम के हो मगर इतनी गुंजाईश रहे
जब कभी हम दोस्त बन जाए तो शर्मिंदा न हो!

The session ended with the hope that someday Indians will not need visas to visit Bulleh Shah’s majar and the Pakistanis will not need visas to visit Ghalib’s Majar. Saeeda Deep also invited the JNU students to Pakistan and informed them of the application process beginning in a few days time. Please visit me or leave a comment if any of you want the 90-minute audio of the meeting.

Also see:

1. Shashi Tharror, Sachin Pilot and D. Hooda in JNU

2. Arundhati Roy in JNU campus

3.Independence Day celebrations in JNU campus

4. Political wall posters in JNU

5. Rahul Gandhi in JNU Campus: Black flags, Healthy exchange

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Saturday, October 3, 2009

India: Farmer's Daughter Takes on Terrorists -- and Wins

Rukhsana Kausar, a 21 year old woman, attacked the terrorists who had broken into her home and she saved her father’s life. As the terrorists beat her father, she attacked them with an axe, and then she took control of their automatic weapon and used it on them.

Farmer’s daughter disarms terrorist and shoots him dead with AK47

An Indian farmer’s daughter disarmed a terrorist leader who broke into her home, attacked him with an axe and shot him dead with his own gun …

(Dean Nelson, Daily Telegraph)

So much for my 'Indian Hospital Experience'

While trawling the net I came across a blog ( about the travails of an American, getting treated for a mole/wart/skin cancer in New Delhi. The experience narrated in this post is exactly the kind of stuff we do not want. I am amazed at some of the narration and the stereotyping this does of the Indian doctors and medical system.

The blog has a semi mad sardarji (sikh) as a doctor who speaks and understands no English, laughs at his own jokes in Hindi and does not understand the difference between a mole and a pimple. The doctor has never heard of the United States and knows America, a country whose citizens are rich and ripe for fleecing. The doctor prescribes lotions and creams for treating the mole, which are not available at his own pharmacy and the patient (the author) walks out, having parted with Rs. 500 and nothing to show for it. Astoundingly, this gentleman returns to the clinic of the mad sardarji, encounters a ‘wildeyed’ patient on a wheelchair, and asks the doctor to burn off the offending mole in the emergency room next door.

Can you really believe this? A dermatologist who knows no English, does not know what the US is, prescribes lotions for treating moles and does strange surgery in his ER. All this in Delhi.  To me this sounds stranger than fiction.

One can not study medicine in India unless one knows English as the language of instruction in medical schools across the country is English. I refuse to believe that there exists a dermatologist, who can’t differentiate between a pimple and a mole and if I ever encountered, will I let him treat me not once but twice!  Come to think of it, will I let someone operate on me if their was a serious language barrier, when I am not sure if the doctor/surgeon understands the problem. If I agree to all this, than it is me who is playing with fire and taking completely unacceptable risks.

I am willing to grant that the author might have been lured to a quack’s place by someone. However, his complete gullibility and his willingness to try out this kind of treatment, which one would instinctively recoil from appears to be a product of his imagination. This as I said earlier only reinforces Indian stereotypes of a land of great mystery, faith healing, strange medical practices and half crazy doctors.

I am sure this makes for great reading back home.

However, what it also does is that it mocks at the great advances India has made in medicine. It paints a very distorted picture of Indian healthcare. India has some of the most modern hospitals and qualified medical personnel, which attract thousands of foreign patients every year. While, there is no denying that there are quacks and the like who exist, not going to a qualified dermatologist for the removal of a mole and continuing with the treatment of a doctor/quack who does not understand ones language will be considered foolhardy anywhere in the world.

Let us have none of this kind of crap.

Pic courtesy

Thursday, October 1, 2009

Jurassic nest in Tamil Nadu,India.

OIMBATORE: Geologists in Tamil Nadu have stumbled upon a Jurassic treasure trove buried in the sands of a river bed. Sheer luck led them to
Geologists in Tamil Nadu discover Dinosaur eggs. hundreds of fossilized dinosaur eggs,
perhaps 65 million years old, underneath a stream in a tiny village in Ariyalur district.-Times of India 1/10/09
South of Vindhyas, a Great civilization flourished, which is perhaps as old ,if not older than civilization that flourished in north of Vindhyas.This civilization was called Dravida, by Vedic people,,Dravida, meaning South.
Sage Viswamitra, condemned his sons to this area because they objected to him teaching Vedas to a man of lower birth, saying birth does not determine one’s caste.Thase sons reached South; to their astonishment they found a culture equal, if not superior to their own.They were also worshipping Muruga, called Skanda in Veda,Krishna an Maayon,Indra, and Parvati, as Kotravai and most of their customs were every rational.They adopted their culture.Their descendent,Aapasthamba , integrated the best of Vedas and Vedic culture and that of Dravidas and formulated the Apasthamba Sutra, which is practiced more in South India.Interesting to note that mangal Sutra otr Thaali is a concept of Dravidas and not Vedic.Vedic marriages are complete with Panigrahana or handing over the bride symbolically to the groom by handing over the hands of the bride to that of the groom.
Again, special way of wearing Saree , called madisaar, like Brahmain male wearing a dhoti is a Dravidian Concept.
Interaction between people of both culture had been excellent.Chera,Chola and Pandya Kings participated in the Mahabharata War.In fact, a king Prunchotru uduyan Nedun Cheralathan performed Tenth day ceremonies of Duryodhana.
Not surprising to note old fossils are found in Tamil Nadu.We must intensify search in Tamil Nadu to unearth more details of our heritage.