Wednesday, December 27, 2006


The west is a bunch of fools. Or a bunch of really intelligent bigots trying their subtle best to rid the world of those pesky Arabs who have all the oil which God, I am sure, wants the west to use. Fucking ironic that it is made of dinosaur bones - and half these jokers don't even believe in evolution.

Come on.

First, the prophet - cartoons. Freedom of speech, yeah, great! "I don't care even if hundreds die as long as I say what I want." If you ask me, those bloody cartoonists were either absolute idiots or selfish m****r fuckers. A billion people's sentiments are worth less than their "freedom". Cartoonist, fuck you.

Then the pope. Only an absolute idiot would accuse some other religious figure of being violent without talking about the church. The church has been the world's primary pain in the ass in the medieval era. More blood has been shed in the name of the church than the mosque. Ratzinger is a fool. Or a cunning genius?

And then they will kill Saddam, knowing fully well that his death will lead to thousands of retaliatory deaths. The occupiers must be fucking weak in the head. Everybody in the world knew Saddam was going to be killed. What a farce the whole thing is.

Don't you see a pattern here? The west is trying to get Arabs to kill arabs so that they don't have to kill any Arabs - for there will be none left to kill. And finally, when the dust settles, all they have to do is drill for oil - and presto! The corporations are a tad bit richer.

Genius. Pure genius.

Maybe you've heard this one before:

There's this American Dad in 2020 who takes his 12 year old kid around New York. Shows him the statue of liberty with pride. And then, shows him ground zero and the new building that has replaced the WTC. He says "This is where the greatest buildings in the world stood until the Arabs hatefully destroyed them".

And the boy asks, "Dad, what's an Arab?".


Monday, December 11, 2006

Wars Tomorrow -

This is another in a series explaining the economic necessity of warfare to humanity, and why peace would be a bad idea.

Despite persistent efforts to establish world peace by umpteen Popes,Rabbis, Imams, Shankaracharyas (hindu priests more famous for plotting grisly murders), Lamas (of the Dalai variety) and American Presidents, strangely peace will not prevail on this planet. Man still will hate man, woman and child; woman still will hate man, woman and child; child will still remain clueless and admire the bird in the sky which in actuality is a missile headed right for him / her. This mutual hatred will have saved the biggest economies in the world (such as the USA) from saturation and stagnation; corporations like Northup Gunnman will still make a lot of money on the blood of some unfortunate nation (henceforth referred to as the Bakra) . The American economy will still grow, the American people (read "rich people")will get fatter - so fat that even in scarcely populated Texas you will bump into someone all the time.

Future leaders' worst nightmare will be peace, not their dream - just like Today's leaders. In order to ascertain employment for their ilk, causing turbulence in the world will b e one of their priorities. Various methods of creating turbulence will have been studied by governments of the world. Consensus will have been reached, propaganda will be "it".

No amount of begging will motivate a human being into committing suicide doing something as wrong as killing innocents. No amount of blackmail will ever motivate one into doing something on those lines. But brainwash them from childhood - and presto! You have babies dying to be suicide bombers; you have people believing their way of life is right (like Bill O Rielly), you have some people thinking their country is rich (Advani's Shining India)... the list goes on. The motivating factor is that there's a sucker born every minute. The success strategy is simple:
use the aforementioned suckers to mint money by making them fight and supplying weapons, espionage satellites and creative methods to trap more suckers by fake propaganda.

The US brainwashes its people by television and politics. Iran brainwashes its people with politicians denying the holocaust; the Indian rich brainwash themselves into thinking there are only a couple of poor people in the entire country; China brainwashes its people by shooting down the un-brainwashed in city squares.

The future holds exciting possibilities for the propaganda industry. Take for instance the great American experiment with Iran in 2010. During one of Ahmedinijad's incensed speeches denying Gandhi's existence , the US will use one of its spy satellites to beam pornographic videos onto his projected screen. The people will be outraged, and will think Ahmedinijad is making fun of them. He will lose the subsequent elections - after riots on Tehran streets.

The US will beam a holographic image of Kim Jong Il commiting suicide by jumping off a cliff in Korea via one of theire satellites. The people of North Korea will start rioting in jubiliation. The country will explode; lots of intoxicated refugees will knock on China's door. China, incensed with this inconvenience will counter the US with similar strikes.

You get the picture. Propaganda wars. I urge everyone to buy Northup Gunnman stock (so that I can sell it while it is still in high demand).

Monday, November 27, 2006

Another Futile Attempt to Rationalize Inequity in the Modern World.

It breaks my heart to criticize the USA. My experience here has been that the average American is probably the most polite and caring person in the world – perhaps because I have not been to Canada – but I really don’t think Canada is a separate country. But this country, though extremely benevolent and kind at a personal level is the source of almost all the world’s problems.

Well, let me change what I said here. It isn’t this country that is guilty for all the world’s problems. It is the segment of society that this country represents: The rich and the resource hungry.

For the middle class in this country (which, according to Lou Dobbs, an Editorial Member of CNN’s news team, is being waged a war against by the administrative classes of this country) has a standard of living comparable to the richest of the rich in India.

In all economies with capitalist tendencies, the rich screw the poor. The lesser the resources a nation has, the poorer the poor of that Nation – and the more screwed they get by the rich. The US has a lot more resources than India – the poor are in a pretty good shape – financially. Physically, the American poor tend to be more rotund – for they can afford only Taco-Bell or McDonalds. The Indian rich eat at joints like the latter – and the poor often don’t eat at all. Wheras the poor in the US are covered under layers of fat, hundreds of thousands of Indians die of hunger every year.

And who is screwing the poor in India? Why can’t they afford to eat? Why the extreme poverty? Is the extreme poverty a consequence of under-regulated capitalist policy, rampant corruption and impotent family planning (note the oxymoron here?

Capitalism is said to empower the common people. But the current Indian capitalism seems to be partial to larger corporations (which are better equipped to deal with corruption by bribing their way through). It is corruption that is favoring the larger corporations, little else.

If there is even an iota of pro-poverty ideology in the (CPI)-Marxists, they must train their energies against corruption; not capitalism. A significantly lower level of corruption is probably the only thing that will uplift the poor: state largesse (socialism) will send the economy into a state of atrophy and utter-unproductivity.

Three Exciting Possibilities

Nobel Laureate Mohammed Younus, one of the few bright lights in Bangladesh has the right Idea. Micro-credit. Lend money to the poor – but at reasonable interest rates – not a foully high interest rates. Lend intelligently, and they will pay you back. They will become wealth generators. Capitalism will come to the rescue to the poorest of the poor in the world. And, yes, it will do so in a sustainable manner.

However, in India, micro-credit (one of Dr. Singh’s economic policies as of now) has only a few success stories. I believe the main reason for this, is corruption. Corruption is so rampant in India that failure rates are very high. Dr Singh’s government has passed the RTI Act, - an act that has proven to be quite a boon to fight against corruption. Though RTI success stories abound (Magsasay awardee Mr. Arjun Kejriwal deserves special mention here), the government is trying to clip its wings – under pressure from beauraucracy. It’s a “yes-prime-ministeresque” drama happening in New Delhi, the policy makers under pressure from the all powerful Beauraucracy

Media watch-dogs in India have started to emerge of late. Sting operations are conducted almost on a daily basis. Corruption – from Bollywood casting couches to high-level defense deals has been exposed. Before asking for a significant bribe, the corrupt official has to think twice. Is there a hidden camera somewhere?

Will these change India? They will. After all, India is a hugely successful democracy. The people don’t like corruption. They will boot the corrupt ones out. I remain optimistic.

Saturday, November 04, 2006

A cruel world.

Close to a three hundred thousand brave soldiers (most still in their teens), enlist, often purely by the encouragement of their parents, in a two (and often three) year long battle. They fight no monster; no dragon. They fight and kill each other. All they do is fight for two years, little else. And why do they do this? To avoid an eternity of suppression and repression.

Only three thousand survive this horribly destructive battle. Others are forced to work in the deepest depths of hell, even if they almost survive the ordeal. Before they have the time to relax and recover from the wounds, the government forces them into another equally destructive battle: where they are split into many sub-groups (such as divers, foot soldiers and pilots). They then proceed to kill each other. Some just don't become good divers, soldiers and pilots. They are eliminated easily, and live reasonably fulfilling lives as shepherds. Some, of course revel in this shepherdry (sic.) . All in all, roughly 20 of the 3000 win their respective battles and find themselves as graduate students in MIT and Stanford and the like. Some of the shepherds will end up in IIMs too - where they enlist to fight an equally savage battle with other shepherds.

The IITs might be the biggest names of all as far as engineering education is concerned in the world. But one must bear in mind that what got them there is the merciless bloodshed of the other (unsuccessful) innocent aspirants. The IITs are, in reality, beasts that prey on the egos of innocent Indians who sacrifice two years of their lives with a desire to rise above the rut of mediocrity that the rest of the country is. Their unofficial motto is "Be cruel, kill the innocent."

And this motto extends to the 3000 successful students who pass the JEE. Usually, most freshers into IIT love their Math, Physics and Chemistry - for it takes a true passion (and a LOT of luck) to crack the JEE. And when they join, they come across some joker teaching them Quantum Mechanics - another joker vomiting a book of thermodynamics on the blackboard (without even contemplating an appeal to intuition). The terrible teaching at IIT made me hate those subjects. While students at Caltech had Feynman teaching them Physics, we had these &^@!#$s!

In my very first semester at IIT we had nine courses. Thermodynamics, Materials Science, Chemistry, Maths, Physics, Basic Electrical Engineering, Engineering Drawing, Workshop and Physics Lab.

Developing an intuitive understanding, of course, was possible only if you were an Einstien-esque genius. And unfortunately, most professors assumed the same. There are three kinds of IITians: the Genius, the pragmatic perseverer (sic) and the idealistic victim. The genius does not work, skips classes and scores among the highest in class. (There's usually more than one genius in class!). The pragmatic perseverer, perhaps, dreams of greener pastures in the US of A from day 1 and works toward that goal by taking regular notes and sacrificing the intuitive understanding if he deems it necessary to do so. The idealistic victim, on the other hand, fails to catch what the professor says in class (for he is not a genius), and just does not have the time to work on developing an intuitive understanding of all 9 courses at once. He screws up miserably.

Professors in IIT are cruel too. Except for a few, all expect student to learn by heart empirical formulae to use in the examination. They do a miserable job of teaching. Some professors can't even talk out clearly. Almost all professors have an attitude problem; they reckon the students are just not interested in working hard. In reality, professors at IIT are a pampered lot. They have not taught anywhere else in the world. As a student, I have realized that students at IITs are way more enthusiastic and easy to teach than the students in the US. The professors can teach without "dumbing the material down", like they have to do here. And I have never heard students ask insightful questions like they did at IIT.

IITs are a cruel institution. We are a nation with absymal poverty and opportunity levels. Cruelty is a national phenomenon. We see how exaggerated it is in the nation's premier institutions.

Sunday, October 15, 2006

A Left Turn

There were many moments at IIT Madras that made me think; some of which actually changed my life. Technical discourses from the likes of V Ramachandran (the neuro-whiz from UCSD) and Roberk Resnick rank quite high, for one. But a talk by journalist P. Sainath really changed my life.

Sainath is one of those guys who makes people uncomfortable. And he does so with fact rather than rhetoric. The tirade he launched against the BJP for having the temerity to suggest that India was actually shining when the poorest of the poor were going through their toughest time ever opened my eyes, and almost everyone else's in the audience. IITians are a cynical audience, by and large. Nobody, not even T.N Seshan got a standing ovation. But Sainath did.

His analysis was spot on; the subsequent election results showed the free-market-capitalist BJP and the CEO of AP, Naidu, receive a historic drubbing by the wary masses. The family of the farmer who committed suicide would certainly have thought the India Shining campaign insensitive, to say the least. And proposals to build a F1 racetrack in Hyderabad when farmers were dying would have been the salt on the wound. Democracy spoke out; the left leaning congress party came to power (after some political theatrics).

Another moment that changed my life was the following. I was at an aunt's place in India (the details of the location shall be with-held, for I don't want to be accused of slander and be responsible for the subsequent rift in the family). She said the following:

"The poorer people are animals. The rickshaw-wallas, the shop-keepers. They beat their wives at home and get drunk all the time. Just don't think of them as human. Treat them as low-lives."

I was enraged at that time; and still am. But now, I realize that almost every rich person and business in India thinks this way - by just don't say it in so many words. Let me elaborate.

The poor are omnipresent in India. Look through any window from home (unless you are in one of those expensive Metro neighbourhoods); from trains, from anywhere. You will see the poor live in their ill constructed slums facing the vagaries of nature (extreme heat, extreme cold and heavy rain). With this poverty everywhere one tends to take this poverty for granted. There are so many poor people in the country that the average rich Indian just takes them for granted. Servant maids are upbraided for missing a spot on the ground; auto drivers are shouted at and fought with.

Life in the US has been such a contrast. Labour is dignified; carpenters and chauffeurs (often among the poorest in India) live with a standard of living comparable to while collar workers in India - often with that of executives. This country is so insulated from human suffering that any little suffering is given a lot of importance. The US is a way more compassionate country for that very reason.

It is obvious that the lot of the poor Indian is unlikely to stage an overnight recovery. The only way out , of course, is sustainable development - and perhaps laws that make it difficult for corporations to continue making positive economic profits (by monopoly) off the poorest of the poor. Dr. Singh's tag line "Reforms with a Human Face" makes a lot of sense at first hear. But is it really practical? Only time will tell. Meanwhile, the fate of poor India hangs in the balance.

I can see that the only sensible Ideology an Indian/ a sensitive global citizen can follow is an Indian-style leftist ideology (not the ridiculous ideology of Michael Moore et. al. Back in the third world, we've got more important things to worry about than the right to surf porn annonymously on the internet.). For the poor are people too, my aunt's words of wisdom notwithstanding.

Saturday, October 07, 2006

Ick, Kiki and Orb.

Long long ago, on this very piece of land, lived a family - a family whose real names have been lost in the prehistoric era. A family of Cave men. For marketing purposes in today's world, they have been assigned the decidedly uninspiring monikers: Ick, Kiki and Orb. Ick being the patriarch, Kiki being the matriarch and Orb being the only surviving male offspring - a rather naughty one at that, one would imagine.

Ick's real name was Theodore; Kiki's was Razia and Orb's was Gaston-Lee. They lived in the huge city of Newport. A prosperous megapolis of 30 million, built more on the lines of today's New York than Tora bora. Newport was a part of the pre-historic Altivian empire - an empire built like today's USA - but with a significant difference.

In the Altivian era, progress in ecological research was much ahead of its time. There was international consensus on the greenhouse effect and on the dangers of non-biodegradable materials. (This was partly due to a preponderance of massive carbon dioxide breathing dragons which had to be eliminated by fearless princesses riding on their equally fearless mules. The scientific community had to justify this slaughter of massive beasts - the princesses being too beautiful to blame. It was a by a stroke of luck that the greenhouse effect was stumbled upon).

The upshot, of course, was that all the buildings that were built could be destroyed without a trace on impact. Only solar energy was used - and it was used extensively. Not a square millimeter of land on a desert remained without it being covered by organic solar cells. Organic solar cells were essentially plants which were genetically engineered to produce DC through their leaves and connect to the national grid via their roots (of course, after passing through the appropriate inverters and other waveform conditioning modules). The process of cross pollination took care of capacity expansion.

Organised religion in the Altivian era was as organized as that of today. The Altivians worshipped the boar (like Obelix of Gaul) , worshipped the cow (like the Hindus), worshipped the pig (unlike the Muslims) ; the ram (unlike the Christians)- actually anything on four legs except the dragon (like the Chinese and King Arthur) and the mule. A certain sect of the Altivians believed in the Noble boar that had fed a famished group of piligrms on the verge of passing away by sacrificing itself. The same sect of Altivians, as a mark of respect for the aforementioned boar would touch no meat. They would sacrifice twenty-thousand tomatoes by showering the same on a boar.

And then there was the Foremost Pig that had helped relieve people of their sin by kissing them on the forehead; the Central Cow whose milk had guaranteed immortality. (Its calves died of malnutrition - they never got any of the milk)

Gaston-Lee was an inquisitive man by nature. He questioned the basis of this belief - he had seen ample evidence against the same. The poorer sections of Newport had thousands of poor people starving without a meal a day. Why didn't the noble boar do anything? He saw wrinkled old folk on the street gaze fearfully at a funeral procession. What had become of the central cow? He then saw the robber snatch a purse from an innocent woman walking on the street. He pursued the robber - only to see the same disappear into a pigpen, presumably to get kissed by the Foremost Pig.

Gaston-Lee therefore questioned God. He suspected that organized religion was one big hoax. He melted into a sea of cynicism. And in a fit of rage, he and a couple of other like minded people secluded themselves into a cave and let their disillusionment show in a series of drawings on the wall. They used permanent ink - they had begun to doubt everything - even those ecological beliefs that were such a central a part of their society. Gaston and his co-workers drew a man killing a boar - he had understood that the boar had not given up its life voluntarily, but had been cruelly snuffed.

Dr. Josef Pierre, a history teacher at Harvard had put the above picture up in his snazzy power-point slide show.

He said "As we can see, the caveman was primarily carnivorous. He used primitive methods to kill his prey. He was too primitive to be able to cultivate crops. This was his only food. Boar."

Thursday, September 21, 2006

The Future of Terrorism

The future of terror, just like its past, is in safe (or rather, unsafe) hands. It is not just in the hands of Al-Qaeda, the Taleban, LTTE, LET and the Maoists - groups known the world around as terrorists. These groups are actually the most incompetent; the visible tip of the iceberg. I call them incompetent because we know about them. They have failed in convincing the western masses that they are not terrorists. (But one must understand that my perspective is an Indo-American perspective. A Kashmiri / Iraninan / Iraqi perspective is probably the exact inverse).

The rest of the iceberg of terror is comprised of by (among others)

  • CIA
    • Funded Osama Bin Laden in the 80s. Look who came back to bite the US in the rear.
    • Helped the Shah of Iran; indirectly brought about the islamic revolution. Look who's trying to bite the US in the rear now.
    • Is always trying to assasinate Chavez. Trying to get him out of the office by financing a coup, at least.
    • Supported Genocide in Chile: Pinochet.
    • Supported modern day Hitler Pol Pot in Cambodia.
    • Tortures people all around the world in its "secret" prisons
    • Supports warlords in Somalia "fighting" islamic militia
    • Dabbled in Opium Trade in Asia
    • Tried to kill the leader of Panama
    • Tried to kill the leader of Cuba (Commie Castro)
    • Taught Nicaraguan Troops to encourage rioting on street
    • A lot of other classified stuff.
  • Mossad
    • Systematically tries to kill "enemies of state" (like leaders of Hamas) by giving information of their whereabouts. Usually kills more civilians instead.
    • Has Asassinated (along with a lot of civilians)
  • RAW
    • Created Bangladesh by dividing Pakistan. While it is mind bogglingly obvious that Bangladesh is going to come back and bite India in the rear in the future, it is quite difficult to say the fault would be attributed to RAW.
    • Created Bangladesh and Tried to assasinate the President.
    • Tries to destabilize Balochistan and Waziristan.
  • ISI (Pakistan)
    • Encouraged Sikh militancy in India
    • Parented Taliban
    • Mumbai Bombs; inspired Dawood Ibrahim.
    • Runs Terror Camps in Bangladesh. Also encourages North East India terrorism.
    • Funds radical islamic groups.
I hereby propose that the Axis of Evil be expanded to include the aforementioned groups.

We're a sick planet. And the worst part of this is, that our history is filled with acts of terror that give these groups a Mother-Teresaesque feel. Hitler makes Ahemedinijad look like an angel; Aurangazeb makes Indira Gandhi look like a cuddly teddy bear; and Vlad the impaler makes George Bush look kind of good too.

Sunday, September 17, 2006

Repressed Perverts, Religious Hypocrites

Religious extemism, Ahmedinijad-style, apparently, is just skin deep. Or just a lot of skin.

By day, Iranians pray to God a gazillion times, shove their women behind a "burqa" (lest the women expose their noses or feet), hear incessant propaganda of Ahmedinijad saying the holocaust did not occur and that Israel is a "wreteched state". And by night, well, they surf porn on the internet. As do the Pakistani Mujahideen; as do the devoutly islamic Egyptians. How can I say that with confidence? Google trends. Google trends has the amazing new "normalized" search feature, which compares the fraction searches matching the keywords to the total number of searches emanating from a particular region / city.

For some reason, I looked for "sex" in I wanted to know what the most perverse city in the world actually is. I expected to find Amsterdam or Paris. Perhaps Tokyo, perhaps even, Bangkok. Maybe New York. It was a hilarious surprise to find Chennai, home to the stiffest upper lip the world, at Number one. Little did I know that the autowallas, the cooks in the mess, the shopkeepers at Pondy bazaar back at IIT were schizophrenic. Conservative "don't say a bad word" people during the day, and porn addicts by night. I knew the day-scholars back at IIT were upto something. I mean - something had to inspire them to do so well in all exams consistently.

And I then cliked on "regions". And guess which country came first? Pakistan! Ahmedinijadland was not far behind. Ah, won't the Ayatollah be proud? Egypt and Turkey were at the top too. Apparently, the more repressive a society, the more the chances that you search for "sex". India (a closed society in its own right), was in the top ten. I'm guessing the fact that Bollywood is showing more skin of late has reduced the libidinous urges that more religious nations seem to be subject to.

Apparently, the Iranians like it dirty. The term "fuck" apparently is more dear to Iran than any other country in the world.

However, the term "porn" does not seem to be an abbreviation familiar to the masses governed by the Ayatollah or Musharaff. Mandella-land seems to love porn. And even that island down under. India seems marginally more interested in porn than the US, but the UK has beaten them both by a long way.

Conspicuous by their absense are statistics from China. Apparently, the Chinese do not search for sex. Or maybe, their great firewall is so good that it does not allow any pornographic searches to percolate. Or maybe they call sex something else in Chinese.

One must be wary when one analyses this data. Since e-business has really caught on in the west, the people are very likely to search for other things like "chocolates" and "laptops" too. This does, in no way, tell us that Christianity has triumphed over perversity. If anybody is under any such impression, then they are advised to tune into MTV.

I reach the following conclusions:

  • Human beings are human beings.
  • Repression does not triumph over lust.
  • I need to get a life. Why on earth would anyone be searching for sex on

Tuesday, September 05, 2006

A Tribute to Steve Irwin

It was six or so years ago: I was in Vizag with my grandmother. I was hooked onto the TV (just like any adoloscent preparing for the JEE would be expected to be). There was this intrepid little Australian exploring the land down under fiddling with what he believed to be "the ten most poisonous snakes in the world". I can remember feeling a little tense when he was handling number one.

He had a unique (humane?) way of dealing with snakes. He would lift them up by the tail, and not behind their necks (as one would be tempted). He went on to explain that holding the snake by the tail hurts the snake lesser. Not information that I would ever be likely to use, but this little bit remained etched in my mind forever. I watched the whole episode barely lifting my eyes from the TV.

Whenever I would tune into discovery channel after that, I would remember the same episode on snakes. I desperately awaited reruns of that thing. But to no avail.

And a couple of years ago, I saw Eric Cartman, with that same exaggerated Australian drawl, try to put his thumb into certain private parts of other animals' anatomies. Of course, I remembered the snakes then,

It is heart-breaking to hear that Mr. Irwin is no more. My sincere condolences to his family and every other fan.

Saturday, August 26, 2006

How to get snakes onto a plane

After the recent (inspiring?) Jackson starrer, one cannot but help contemplate various ways of installing snakes on an airliner with the motive of causing inconvenience to one and all. And the term "snakes", I use not metaphorically. This is indeed not a post with layers of meaning. The term "snakes" implies not a terrorist. This post is as crass and unsophisticated as, well, the movie in question.

How do we get snakes on a plane without getting detected? This question has puzzled countless moviegoers for a week and a day, and bloggers with nothing else to do for more than a year. So, I take a crack at bringing them on board. A warning though: one must not try getting snakes on a plane. It would be cruel to the snake; PETA would get back at you for doing so, no doubt. Another warning: if you're flying Sam Jackson on the plane, it would be better not to get any impressionable children on board. Profanity is something most children should never learn. Or they become like, well, Sam Jackson when confronted with wriggly thingamajigs.

One must make use of the fact that snakes are organic creatures. If smuggled in the check in baggage, they would be detected in the x-ray. Snakes are soft, and when pressed, some feel like a gel. It would be best not to get them in cabin baggage either - especially with the stringent new anti-gel norms. The sensible snake bringer would carry the snake on his person - preferably tranquilzed -something slithering would arouse immediate suspicions. The advantage of their "organicness" is that the metal detector won't go "beep beep beep" when it hovers over the snake. It will think the snake is a part of the body and will move on its quest of detecting firearms.

So, how does one smuggle these things into a plane? Snakes are not drugs - and cannot be smuggled in "body orifices" - for they might suffocate. Plus no one wants venom in the aforementioned parts of the anatomy. Prosthetic limbs come to mind; breast implants too, I guess - but how would one produce those snakes on demand in the plane without looking extremely conspicuous? One therefore does see that these methods entail severe risk. One could try bribing the stewardresses - but that would work only in domestic Indian flights. (Corruption seems to be an endemic part of current Indian culture right now).

I think the most pragmatic way of achieving the stated objective is to smuggle an undetected snake in one's pockets while boarding the flight. The snake must be in a state of infancy - so that it can be mistaken to be a part of the pocket lining of the trousers. The infant snake must then be hosted in, say, seat 12A. It must be put undetected in the seat pocket. Then, the assassin (let's call the snake-bringer the "assassin" rather than the "terrorist", primarily, because the term "assassin" has two asses) must make his people buy tickets on all flights of the plane in question such that they get to stay in seat 12A. They must feed the snake a share of their airline food daily - and remove its excreta in a litter bag.

And on D-day (let's refer to it as SSS day from now on?) the snake is released. One must make it a point to make it either an anaconda or a venomous snake; failing which the snake shall wind up as a mere amusement. Spray it with pheromones and hear Sam Jackson deliver his famous lines.

[Please note that there's a lot of bleeped profanity in the link. Please be aware of that before you click on it. ]

Thursday, August 17, 2006

Invulnerable to attack?

Dr Kalam, India's president reckons that India must make itself "invulnerable to attack". I am sure the statement was made with all the best intentions, but I must note that the world would be better off if India remained the one sixteenth super-power it already is.

Let' s face it. There's way too many bombs with the US, Russia and China. If they ever decide to attack us with them, then we're done for. Unless, of course, we build our own. But we're a small nation (at least in size). We're not that rich. If we ever manage to top these nations in Nuclear weapons (or at least get ourselves enough to make them think twice before they do the nuclear thing), then we would have spent an immense amount of money. Money that our poor nation call ill afford to spend. Money that could be spent in, say, building better roads and intersections.

I personally believe that we should not even plan for defending ourseleves against these nations. We should focus on becoming an economic superpower. An active trading partner that these nations can ill afford to fight with. Of course, we must fight with the terrorists. We must have good intellegence. The LET and the Maoists would be itching to get their hands on the bombs, for one.

Presidents are not elected directly. The constitution gives them almost no power. They just live in a large house and consume as many resources as the average American. India feeds its ego by feeding a figurehead with luxury that the normal person cannot even concieve. Indian presidents' opinions do not matter in the policy arena, as the recent "office of profit" episode has shown. Aren't we wasting an engineer of Dr Kalam's caliber in the Rashtrapathi Bhawan?

Friday, August 11, 2006

Sticking to Principles

Among the most dangerous things that my parents taught me, it turns out, is sticking to my principles. Sticking to principles, for one, makes one unpopular immediately. The usual refrain "He thinks he is better than us!" plays repetitively in another's head when one refuses to consume alcoholic beverages to smoke some relaxing nicotine filled cylinders (which shall not be named, fearing government censorship) when approached by another to do so.

The danger of "principles" has landed emperors, kings and the like into the proverbial soup. It brought out female polygamy in Ancient India - when one woman was "shared" by five brothers. It brought about millions of wars in the past. A stubborn church brought about humiliation to greats such as Galileo and Copernicus; a stubborn interpretaion of the Quaran has plunged an an entire region into anarchy instilling "hate".

And right now, principle is being used as a "tool" to justify energy hungry imperial aspirations of cetrtain nations of the world (which shall remain unnamed - lest the author be deported, the right to free speech notwithstanding). I mean ... dictatorship doesn't look like utopia to you, but who the hell are you to say it's bad? How do you know other options are not worse? I guess you will learn in the long run.

We Indians are proud of our Indian principles and our Indian value system. How naive, how naive, how naive. For within this cloak of respectability lurks an ugly secret: there are no values, really. A respectable person is expected to have "values". But it has become a cloak for corruption. Indian principles, forsooth. And what of sex?

India shuns sex. Sex is out. If you're talking about sex to an Indian family, awkward silences ensue. Sexual awareness is not spread in school ... parents themselves are not well informed enough to talk to their children. In the land of Ajanta and Ellora, of Kama Sutra, of Kajuraho, sex is a taboo.

No wonder sexual abuse is rife ... (not reported, but prevalent, nevertheless)....

India is in need of some drastic social reform. We need to accept that, first.

Wednesday, August 09, 2006

The "tag"

Instead of posts on India (which I have been bombarding the unsuspecting general public with of late), I shall now respond to a tag. This might have broken the "fabric" of the blog, had there been any. But, fabric there is none. So, this post is probably more appropriate than inappropriate. Yada yada yada.

One Book that Changed my life?

Once upon a time, I was an optimistic guy. I thought the world was a beautiful place, and that the birds were cute little things that flew in the sky to make it look better. And then I read Aldous Huxley's "Brave New World", which taught me the basics of cynicism. It taught me to abhor, it taught me to suspect. And then came Orwell's 1984. I can't look at a computer screen with ease .... is big brother watching me? These two books have made me a neurotic wreck.... they did change my life, obviously.

If Wikipedia were actually printed on paper, it would probably have not changed my life as much as it has right now in its online incarination. All I do is type anything I want to know in that firefox address bar ( for instance "wikipedia Adis Ababa") to get data on the average annual precipitation, the geography and the per capita income of that city. But I guess I'm digressing. Quintessential me?

"The end of poverty" byJeffery Sachs was another masterpiece that really got me thinking...

One book you have read more than once?

"The theory of partial differential equations" by Lawrence C Evans. If you understand it the first time you read it, then you are a better person than I. This guy skips so many mathematical steps .. I want to go to Berkley and kill him. Eighty six dollars, and I guess this big fat book filled with the most vexing form of data compression.

On a more serious note, Wodehouse is an author that one must read again and again. His humor seldom wears out. A smirk seldom fails to appear when one reads his prose. He has been quite an inspiration to me. Whenever I'm upset, I just pick up a Wodehouse, turn open a page at random and start chuckling. There's something dignified, silly and wholly satisfying in the way he writes. Perhaps, the most memorable among all the Wodehouse bits to me, is the episode where Freddie bounces tennis balls on the empress ... or maybe when Gussie presents the prizes ..... or when Edwin burns the house down ... or when Freddie talks of crysanthamums as cabbages ....... "It's raining in Northumberland".

One book you would want on a desert island?

Any modern book on math, where they deal with multiple dimensions. Just in case I come across a 7-dimensional coconut tree and need to make coconut chutney to go with the idlis (which conveniently were marooned on the island with me?)

On a more practical note, I woudn't mind the Hitch-Hiker's guide. I could do with some tips on how to tackle raveneous bugblatter beasts should I happen to bump into one of those, and what to do if I were caught by ravaging princesses. I might also pick up on some sub-etha signals.....

Or maybe Swiss Family Robinson. I could compare their way of life with mine....

One book that made you laugh

Each and every Wodehouse I have ever read has never failed to repeatedly make me laugh to tears. Of particular note are his short stories, for instance the one where the efficient Baxter finds himself at the "business end" of a rather painful air-gun. Douglas Adams is a funny guy too. Yes Prime Minister is a ponited satire.

Strangley, almost all good authors are British.

One book that made you cry

"Fluid Mechanics" by ******. A revolting text-book, inflicted on our entire batch in our second year at IIT Madras. Utterly unnecessary, especially when masterpieces such as "Fox and Macdonald " are around. This book ruined my entire foundation in the subject. It took me 4 years to set that right. It was a subject I really loved too. I just coundn't appreciate it then. Other books were too complicated..... The whole course made me cry.

One book you wish had been written?

Why does Jerry Sienfeld not write books? I would love to see a book by him and Larry David. Finally, an American novel book that I can read.

One book you wish had never been written?

Ramjee's load of bull on Fluid Mehcanics, for one.
I'm not sure "The O'Rielly Factor for Kids" is the right stuff to give impressionable kids. But that isn't exactly my war.
Stephen Hawking's "A brief History of Time" .... at least then, I wouldn't be ashamed of not reading it.

One book you are currently reading?

"The Hydrogen Economy" by Jeremy Rifkin. Got it cheap. It does not seem to make much sense. All rhetoric. Little sense.

One book you have been meaning to read?

Heat and Mass Transfer in Porous Media by Bejan. It's been lying at home (borrowed from the library). Need to work on it a bit for the project. Lazy me.

I need to tag 6 people. Damn. I don't know so many ....

Sunday, August 06, 2006

55 Rupee petrol: Under Water Investigations

I've been swimming of late in the university. And swimming has reinforced what I have been thinking all along: the free market is, in reality, a rather unfair and dangerous thing.

I might not be rich here in the USA. I might just be above the poverty line. But I consume way more than I ought to consume: by virtue of just being here. My house in centrally air-conditioned. I just could not get an Indian style apartment whose kitchens and bathrooms are not air-conditioned. I have a sports car: it gives miserable mileage. A third of the Maruti 800. I had to buy this car: public transportation is a big farce in this country.

Resistance heaters are used to heat up the water in the house. Even in the miserably warm summer. Air conditioners are necessary in the car. All buildings are centrally air-conditioned. Only incandecent lamps are used. The GE "low energy" lamps are frowned at and deemed way too expensive.

And swimming pools. Oh, just don't talk about swimming pools. The bloody auditorium is freezing cold (when the outside is at 40C). And the auditorium is as large as a Walmart. There's hot water showers everywhere, dispensing hot water at 40C, heated up using electric heaters. And then there's the hot tub. Water heated up, sent at high velocities (and high Reynolds numbers) into the same, so that shivering people (in the a/c room) can feel warm. When it is bloody 40C outside.

This country's life-style has made it a parasite. This country's natural resources have made it a rich man. It snatches the energy resources from the poor countries. (Just like a richest person gets whatever he wants in the market). American people, at a personal level, are probably some of the nicest and politest on earth. Personal experiences at Texas A&M have been fabulous.

But put them together, and you get a monster. A monster which just goes on eating, eating and eating while the poorer people starve. A monster whose short-sighted foreign policy is at the root of almost all world-threatening problems today.

Perhaps it should not be just America that is to blame for the current inequity and the current mess. More people in the world are getting richer every day than ever before. Oil resources in the world are more or less constant. The newly-rich people of India and China use more oil. More demand, constant supply. It's just that the rich are getting richer - and are increasing in number.

And another thing. Of the 55 rupees that you pay for petrol in India, 15-20 go to the government as taxes. The percentage is much lesser in the US. And what does that mean? India is forcing itself to consume a lot less. India is doing the US a favour by this draconian tax.

Personally, I appreciate it - it implicitly "funds" alternative sources of energy.

It's a rather sticky mess, the whole thing. Wheels within wheels, to use a wodehousian cliche.

Wednesday, July 19, 2006

Freedom annexed.

The terrorists have done it. The have anhillated the freedom of speech from India. They have won. They have won over India's soul. They have converted the government at the center to one of their own miserable totalitarian regimes, fueled by hate and intolerance to anything even bordering on the free.

Banning blogs is so Talibanic an act that one cannot but worry. India is an example of the fact that developing countries can still live by the guiding principles of developed nations . Freedom of speech is something that keeps the morale of the people high. A government that allows itself to be cursed is a government that can be loved genuinely. This ban reinforces the age-old sterotype: Indians cannot take criticism of any sort. And it also tells us: Dr Singh should have paid more attention in his high-school civics class, especially when they were talking of fundamental rights. That might have saved us this embarassing moment of spotlight in the world press.

Democracy is something that India loves. Remember what happened to Indira Gandhi in the elections after that paranoid farce called "the emergency"? A defeat that reinforced the very notions that the nation was built now. Our system really works. If the government ever becomes a Taliban, WE WILL BOOT IT OUT. Dr. Singh: you're on notice.

But the current trend is massively disconcerting. It is not beyond the realms of likelihood that laws will be passed by the government to force women behind the terrible purdah, to encourage mutilation of petty theives, to condone intolerance, to have big-brotheresqe public execusions in public stadia.

Perhaps Orwell should have written a book in Hindi called " Do Hazzar Cheh".

Of course, only three blogs have been blocked by the government. Not such a big deal, really. But I'd like to know who gets to decide which blogs are to be blocked. Must be one smart-ass. He thinks he's better than us?

Have I said enough to be banned? Will I be arrested if I make a trip home? Or will the government actually tolerate my blog? Or will it not know about my blog because very few people read it and acutally not do anything? Only time will tell.

Wednesday, July 12, 2006

The Return of Terror

Every couple of months or so, India seems to have a tryst with terror. Innocent people die for no fault of theirs; the cities descend into a state of more chaos than usual; international media takes notice; politicians derive political mileage.

And in a day or so, India bounces back; as if nothing ever happened. People are scared, no doubt; but feeding the family is imperative. India is a patient nation. It does not bomb the living daylights out of Pakistan. Nations such as Israel (and my host nation, for one) would have let the Pakistanis have it, if they were in India's unenviable shoes..

Yesterday's blasts should act as a rude wake up call to India. Tackling terror should become a political priority. Reason seldom works with Terrorists. If it did, then they would probably be bank clerks or mathematicians or something. You can't address their real concern.

Intellegence is certainly one soultion, but that's easier said than done. Another solution is surveillance. All railway cars and railway should be under 24 x 7 surveillance by the police. Crowded streets, street-sides, pavements, vegetable markets - anywhere lots of people accumulate must be under permanent surveillance. Suspicious people can be traced, events can be investigated if not prevented entirely.

We need to take a leaf out the US's book, as well as from Britain. The US enforces really tough security laws. Getting such bombs into any US town would be almost impossible - especially large ones! Mumbai security on the other hand is really lax. Something that needs some urgent looking into.

Monday, July 03, 2006

The Great Migration

It was the biggest migration of people ever; an unprecedented event. It happened continuously between the years 2029 and 2037. The demographic distribution of India changed suddenly; a change that brought along with it both hope and sorrow; a change that many people felt was imminent, given nature's tendency to equalize.

The seeds of this were sown back in 1991, when Manmohan Singh, then India's finance minister did the inevitable: he liberalized the economy. Foreign investement came in, lifted parts of India from a stagnant rut of inefficiency and corruption. Peninsular India, given its lower population densities (and its higher literacy rate) responded way sooner than North India to this sudden stimulus. South India developed at a whooping 11% every year; North India at a slower 6% (bringing the overall rate to 8%).

So, the Inevitable happened. The states of Tamil Nadu, Andhra Pradesh, Kerala, Maharashtra, Gujarat, Bengal, Punjab, Haryana, Himachal Pradesh and certain North-Eastern states had excellent individual macro-economic indicators. South India became a cultural and Industrial hub. The Tamil and the Telugu film Industries put together made more money than the Hindi film Industry. Population in the southern states began to saturate; poverty started going down - and soon extreme poverty became history. Life expectancy began to tough the 70s.

The Indian cricket team began to be dominated by people from the South. A private company called "southern sport" started a regional cricket league, where 20-20 matches were played between cities. Matches between Mumbai and Bangalore became a significant fixture.

Dharavi, formerly Asia's largest slum colony in Mumbai had disintegrated. High rises replaced the slums; labourers lived in centrally air conditioned homes in sea of humidity that Mumbai is. Even Chennai grew in popularity. Hyderabad had hosted the olympics, India had won sixteen gold medals in the same. Universities in South India had gained international repute; Chennai itself housed 8 Nobel Laureates.

Up North, things were miserable, save the Delhi Region, which housed lots of call centers for the people down south. Delhi was the world's largest urban agglomeration now; It had overtaken Tokyo recently in 2029. People from all over North India used to come to Delhi for Jobs. North India had a lot of mines - and the miners in Bihar lived in slums. North India's population, in stark contrast with South India was still on the upswing. Nearly 800 million of India's 1.4 billion hailed from Bihar, UP, Uttaranchal, Chattisgharh and MP. Finding a job was tougher.

Down south, migrant labourers from the North started finding jobs that paid well. They could easily support their families up north. Students from the North applied to universities in the south; and were more often than not, accepted with financial assistance. The economy of the south consistently grew faster than the North.

A massive influx (100 million or so) of Hindi speaking people to the south of the Arravalis meant a permanent change in India's demographic make-up. Laws were passed to stem this migration; but were soon negated by the supreme court. A cultural dilution of massive proportion took place.

India is now a more homogenous, if not happier place.

Saturday, July 01, 2006

We Love a Boring Game

This is a re-hashed version of an old post. Self Plagiarism?
This has been posted due to its pertinence; and also due to the fact that very few people will actually read the original post now, since it is buried in the bowels of this blog, a region as inaccessible as - Alpha Centauri for the average humanoid from Earth.

It takes two hours for a foot-ball match to happen.
It takes roughly the same time for a basketball match to occur.
Tennis matches seldom take more than the same couple of hours.
But cricket, in its purest form, takes five days. Its "shorter" form takes a day.

India is in love with cricket; like it is in love with no other game. Football is popular in pockets (and in the upper middle class); tennis is elitist; basket ball is unheard of.

India ( a nation of 1,00,00,000 people) pins its hopes on 15 people. These 15 people are celebrities. And to get to be one of the 15 people, one needs to be a bloody genius.

Sports is certainly not a career option for any Indian. There is no money in sports; there is very little incentive for the poor person to actually try to be a part of any sporting team. With a success rate of 15 / 10000000, only an idiot would not err on the side of safety. Only an Idiot (or a very rich guy) would harbour notions of playing for India one fine day. Playing state level will not put enough in your wallet.

If India wants out of this rut, then India will have do one of the following:

1. Discard cricket as the de-facto national game. Foot-ball seems promising?
2. Change cricket to a more compact, watchable format. Turn games between states and cities into popular commercial ventures. Make people of Tamil Nadu (say) cheer for their team in the stadium / at home. Games between Mumbai and Delhi should elicit similar emotions that games Between India and Pakistan do. A more interesting game will draw more viewers; more advertising opportunities; better salaries; better talent - and finally a team that no one can beat.

And don't say that the Indian is poor. Don't say that he cannot afford to watch these matches. He watches movies, doesn't he? He watches regional TV channels, doesn't he? The viewership market in middle class India is Tremendously undertapped.

I tell you, we're sitting on a goldmine here. We're still in the License-Raj era of sports in India. The rules of cricket need some liberalization. It will take an equivalent of Manmohan Singh to do something. Perhaps we could take our humiliation by the West Indies as a balance of payments crisis.

Sherry, are you listening, or has the fat lady sung for Indian sport?

Sunday, June 25, 2006

The War against heat

Preet Pal was a landless farmer. He worked for a corpulent dictator of a farmer; he paid him only Rs 10 an hour, utterly insufficient to feed his family. So Preet was delighted to hear of the new initiative by the government to grow Jathropha on hitherto uncultivated (and therefore, wooded) land. And even more delighted when his application to cultivate that land was accepted only with a bribe of Rs 4000.

Ram Singh was a hard worker. He earned his daily bread by chopping trees. His was an honest trade: he would make Rs 50 per tree he would chop down and dispose off. And he did four on a good day; three on a bad. His pay was roughly Rs 4000 a month; he was one of the massive Indian middle class. His wife worked in a pappad factory in the city; she made a cool 2500 every month; the could afford to send their children to a good English Medium school. Oh, and Ram was an expert bull-dozer driver.

Viral Patel was the contractor. He put the bread in Ram's plate (for hours of tree-cutting labour). He was the stereotyped middle-man; shouting into cell-phone in ear, spitting paan on the pavement, conveying an air of unparalelled unctuosity. With a white cap replacing the bald head, you could mistake him for one of those Lok-Sabha people. And a few years down the line, Viral hoped, you wouldn't just mistake him for one of "those Lok-Sabha people". Live everyone else, he had hopes of being the prime minister. Viral had bribed so many ministers that he thought it made good business sense to be one. Viral was now doing a job for the government; he was cutting the trees off a "boring" section Ranthambore. The government had carefully weighed odds; it had reckoned that energy were more important that keeping the tigers alive. Without energy, what is the use of tigers? No tourists, no money.

Amit Kumar was an engineer. Not the best in his class, but certainly passionate. He had gone to school long ago, he had done a few courses on energy. He remembered that biomass was Carbon-dioxide neutral. (The only carbon dioxide that it emits on combustion is the carbon dioxide that it absorbs while growing. Safe to say that the replacement plants are "recharging" the atmosphere with CO2.) He reckoned it would keep the world a safe, cool place. So, he designed a biomass (datura) cultivation system for the government.

Yusuf Khan was a professor. He had pioneered the use of datura ( a common weed) for energy production. His papers had won fame world-wide. He became a household name in India. Lots of excited parents started calling their new-born sons Yusuf. He had, coincidentally taught Amit that course, where he had made the claim about biomass.

So, Amit's plan to build the farm went ahead; Preet and Ram did their bit. Mr. Shere-Khan is now dead; so are 5000 trees whose services in converting CO2 to O2 have been lost for all eternity. A scar on the face of the planet. Yusuf then, went on to win the Nobel Prize for ushering in the black revolution in India. Alas, "black" could very well stand for eternal doom; not just oil oil.

Saturday, June 17, 2006

Two Nations in One

Between 68 deg. E and 92 Deg E; 8 deg N and 36 deg N lies one massive piece of land; a piece of land that hosts two nations. The nations of India. Both Nations answer to international calling code +91; but only one that has access to the internet domain .in

There's a nation that is wealthy; that posesses a standard of living competing with that of the U.S; and there's a Nation that would give Darfur a run for its money as far as misery is concerned. Let's call the nations India and Bharat respectively; reserving the English name for the prosperous nation. It reflects reality better.

Bharat speaks in many languages - and most of it cannot write. Bharat dwells in slums; relies on the usually unreliable monsoon for farming. Bharat has one of the largest populations in the world; but still has one of the least per-hectare yields of agriculture in the world. Almost all Bharatwasis are farm-based. The urban dwellers often works twelve hours a day, six days a week to feed their massive families. Life in Bharat is a struggle.

In Bharat, opportunities are scarce. Education is seldom a priority. Illiterate parents often do not appreciate the importance of school; they put pressure on their children to work and support the family instead of letting them go to school (a situation borne out of, often, utter necessity). Even the women work as labourers (who said working women is a new concept in Bharat?). Construction work happens in the foul 50 degree heat. And women don't even have bathrooms to bathe in. This is true even in the more prosperous southern states. Let's not even talk of the miseries in Orissa and Bihar.

And when it rains in the slums, it falls on the bed. It falls on the stove. Mosquitoes breed outside the front door. And the government does not remove them easily; the poor cannot bribe. The combined (Bharatiya + Indian ) economy survives exclusively on bribes. And when it does not rain, things get even worse. Water supply is muddy (if it exists). Long trips to the well by women have become quite a common feature in National Georgraphic and other publications.

In Bharat, reporting sexual abuse (an astronishingly common phenomenon) is an unaffordable luxury. There's no time to report it; the police will not take it seriously; and the social stigmas that follow are, well, a fate worse than death. Bharat is a land of 900 million. 900 million battling over scarce and mediocre resources. For the Indians have hogged all the good tomatoes, the healthy eggs. The Indians use all the power, drink all the water.

India is a new world power. It was always a nation of a very high standard of living. Perhaps the only thing wrong with it was the extremely hot climate; and the squalor in the streets created by the Bharatwasis. I mean, who wants to walk on a street which smells like a sewer? Who wants to look at poor, suffering people? But besides that, life is excellent in India. Houses can be cleaned for a pittance by the Bharatwasis. Indians are ambitious. They want to do well in life; their life is greatly inspired by American sitcoms, American Universities and American freeways. Some Indians set sail for greater "opportunities" abroad, but with globalization, an Indian standard of living is really high enough.

Bharatwasis are converting to Indians; some of them are drifting up the stratas of the society. 45% of all the Bharatwasis have cable of some sort already! But there's so many of them. A sudden change in the standard of living is almost impossible. It will take a herculan effort to awaken the Bharatwasis.

It is gratifying to note than democracy has come up with a solution. Affirmative action. Will it benifit the Bharatwasis in the long run? The Indians don't think so - affirmative action hurts the Indians. You wouldn't expect them to support these reservations.

I'm sure democracy will come up with an affirmative action approach that shall not affect the Indians negatively. For what is good for the Bharatwasis will be good for the Indians in the long run. Perhaps Bharatwasis and Indians will be the same in the future.

Sunday, June 11, 2006

The origin of faith

Humanity has come a long way from the cave to palaces; from tree-tops to giant yachts, from a nomadic pastoral existence to the moon. One of the single most important factors influencing Man's success is faith. Why faith? Why does faith give a human being strength? Why would belief in something improve man's survival chances?

In this article we will try to rationalise divinity and show that it isn't supernatural after all!

There's security in numbers. Suppose 12 people go hunting individually (one by one). And suppose another twelve people go hunting together. It doesn't take rocket science to note that the former case would have made good meat for the animal, and the latter case would have made good meat of the animal. Humans in a group are more secure.

Consider a tribe in the Ganga valley. A tribe is essentially a set of people that reside in the same society. A leader is necessary for the survival of the tribe; leader-less tribes would have been wiped out due to the ensuing chaos! Suppose the ruler of the tribe is very sucsessful; a hero. Suppose he is a good ruler. Suppose he captures many other tribes - and becomes a tribal lord of sorts. If he rules well, will become very popular. And everybody would just idolise him. He would become a living legend (like Sachin Tendulkar is, right now).

In an era where photographs are a few millenia from invention, the only way to pass on his legacy is by word of mouth or by statue - or by book. A human being rapidly becomes a legend. And, in a millenium or so, he becomes a God. His simple deeds (like fetching a tumbler of wine from somewhere) get glorified into turning water into wine. People become passionate about him. He becomes the epitomy of good governance. All further rulers are expected to live up to an ideal established by him; kings aim to be but his re-incarinations, metaphorically speaking.

In a few millenia, Gandhi will become a God of truth and non-violence (his quirks would add to his charm!); Einstien the God of the grey cells, Angelina Jolie, the godess of love, and of course,
the rock band Metallica, the gods of painful noise.

Wednesday, May 31, 2006

Big Brother is Watching You: Corporate Hubris in the US of A

Well, not exactly. But if you are living in the US of A, then odds are, a big brother of some sort knows everything about you; he knows whether you pay your loans on time, he knows whether you drive properly, he knows whether you are a sex offender; he knows who you’ve been talking to on the phone….. Big brothers are doing everything except literally watching you.

In my opinion, a human being should be forgiven for committing a minor mistake. We’re all people. We make mistakes. But what the American corporations are doing is entirely erasing that “forgiveness” safety-net that human beings, (in my opinion) are entitled to.

Take for instance the “credit score check” which happens whenever you want to take a loan, or get a cell-phone, get a credit card, buy a car – a process taken for granted by the hapless residents. The efficient are rewarded; the inefficient (those who forget to or cannot pay their loan on time) – they are charged steep premiums. Government does not impose controls; corporations do, in the US of A. But to the average person, it is all the same. Their life is under control, under constant supervision – the people are no better off than the inhabitants of Rwanda or Somalia – under the shadow of the militias in power. Okay, maybe that was an exaggeration, but I do hope my point is appreciated.

The other day, I went to the Social Security office and filled out my social security application form. (Us international students: we don’t get it when we were born) The following was written on the same: “You have a right to deny us your personal information. However, if you do, you shall not be allowed to get paid for your work in this country.”. It’s like god (the entity that some people believe is “responsible” for all life on earth. In the extremely unlikely event that he does exist, I am sure he is feeling pretty silly, looking at how his creations turned out!) saying “You can stop breathing anytime you want. You might not live, but that is entirely up to you”.

And you cannot speak out against corporations here: defamation suits will follow. And the money-might of these corporations more or less ensures that very, very few people actually have the financial and mental strength to withstand the millions of court-room appearances that this would entail.

And don’t let me even get started on the copy-right and patent terrorism. Suppose you invent something new. It’s not a time to celebrate; it’s a time to mourn. For surely, within the equivocal, un-understandable verbosity that lies filed within the US patent office, lies something or the other that can be interpreted to sound very similar to what you would have just invented. Law suits from corporations will follow.

This is the philosophy of the US of A. This is indeed a free country; if you pay your bills on time; if you do not stand in the way of a bad driver on the road; if you do not fall ill, etc. Land of the free, or a corporate dictatorship?

The author is an idiot. He has not really experienced any such dictatorship, but he loves to speculate. The author believes he is like Wodehouse’s Alaric, the Duke of Dunstable, who’s passion is writing acerbic letters to the editor of “The Times” (presumably) in those wonderful Blandings Castle Stories.

Thursday, May 25, 2006


2061 AD. The Americans are at it with the Chinese. Both countries wanted the good life; Mother Earth could just not take it anymore. The Chinese had been growing at an astronomical 9% every year since 1979 – it did not take them long to give the Americans a run for their money in the battle for oil and water. The Indians were left far behind: 9% is way more than 7%, especially when compounded.

The Average Chinese got fatter; obesity became a problem – it was indeed a problem of plenty. The Chinese started to demand what the American demands now: high quality junk food; massive sales with prices marked down (after a massive mark-up earlier); a culture governed by little pieces of paper and plastic cards – and fingerprints and dna.

The convenience driven modern society started to attach DNA to bank accounts. Money could be withdrawn only if you had the right DNA on you. This would also require the correct finger-print, making the entire process of forgery very difficult, and the process of withdrawing cash a tremendous hassle. Some firms tried doing away with the finger-print verification, but that led to lots of barbers and spouses being sued.

Let us stop the digression. Let’s talk about what we set out wanting to talk about. Wars.

President Heorhe Shrub of the United States was a descendant of Bobby Fischer. Premier Hau Taul ( is a China-Man) of China carried a computer with the power of deep-blue in his shirt pocket. The Indian Prime Minister, Venkaraman Karim-Patel was born in Vijaywada, a southern city (medium sized) of 30 million. He was born into a middle class family. His family saw that he was an exceptionally talented chess Player – and made him skip school to explore the wonderful world of chess. Some 900,000 other children from Vijaywada went to a crammery (where they were made to memorize each and every game of chess ever played between 2 human beings), 10,000 made it to the Indian Institute of Chess, and twelve made it to the National Chess Institute. And finally, some 20 students from all over India played amongst themselves to determine the new Prime Minister of India.

Somewhere in 2020, people decided that war was pretty pointless. By 2015, the United States army stopped recruiting new marines: they had robots to do all the dirty fighting anyway! They started to pump more money into manufacturing new robots to kill people. The Chinese government had always been working on robots to fight and kill people. The Americans, on realizing that all their investment in new robots (that could kill) was pointless (as their enemies also had robots too), decided that enough was enough. The American corporations had to write of all the robots as a big loss (attempts were made of selling them as butlers – until some robots malfunctioned and shot their owners dead instead.)

The American Government (under pressure from loss making American corporations) got the two and a quarter main powers in the world: Itself, China and India to a round table conference in India. In the historic declaration (the Bhatinda Accord), it was decided that war be abolished, since it was no longer economically viable. A study conducted jointly by University of Chicago, Tsinghua University and Kanpur Dehat University was cited – showing a correlation between the military might of a country and the number of chess victories in a year. Chess was accepted as the new “war”. The premier of each nation would play chess against the premier of the nation they were warring against.

Nuclear Weapons were dumped on Mars. The Martians would never have a chance. They would blow themselves up long before evolving. Just like we almost did.

An intriguing side effect (which no one foresaw) was the re-emergence of Russia as a world power. Those unethical bastards probably cloned Kramnik. And the American corporates- curse them - they sell plastic chess sets made in India and China all around the world.

Monday, May 22, 2006

What's wrong with populism?

It is quite familiar to hear these cynical observations muttered by "educated" Indians.

"Politicians are only worried about votes".

"God save this country from populism".

Tell me, as a democracy, would you not expect a government to be populist? Would you expect a government to do what the people do not want? My friends, we are India, not China.

It is indeed spell-bindingly obvious that Arjun Singh has a political axe to grind with the reservation card. And the question I raise here is: if the idea of caste based reservations would have full-fledged support from the masses, why was is not implemented earlier? Was it not a travesty of democracy that something that has had so much support from the masses was not implemented? Wasn't the government guilty of not implementing this earlier, when the popular mandate out these was to implement it?

I feel proud that the hitherto downtrodden are benifitting from reservation; and that we're achieving 8% growth rate despite the reservation. (The reservation in IITs is more or less cosmetic. All of us IITians know that IIT is a decrepit system which churns out mediocre management graduates in the guise of engineers. Look at all the companies recruiting on campus. Citi Financial. KPMG. McKinsey. Stan-Chart. Capital-One. BCG. The only saving grace is the quality of the post graduate research at IIT, which is as good at it gets in India.)

I would like the commend the government in pursuing the reservation issue, despite negative coverage from the press. Populism is good. If you're not a populist, the people will vote you out. You're the masses' servant, not the rich man's. True meritocracy will result only when the poor are given a level playing field.

Sunday, May 21, 2006


Who is the most popular human being on earth? Interesting question.

Let's rule out any Hollywood actor: their popularity is very limited (to the developed world)... and there's way too many of them, so different people have different favorites.

Let's rule out anyone in the west, actually. There' s way too less people in the western world. If the question were "Which person's popularity can be transalated into the most money due to ticket sales and endorsements?", then perhaps western celebs would stand a chance. But not as things are right now.

So, of course, the possibilities are essentially either Chinese or Indian celebs ... with billion plus people. I have a gut feeling that the most popular person in the world is Sachin Tendulkar. I will make my case in the following paragraphs.

What do a billion people have in common in India? They do not have a common culture: the culture of the North-east differs from the south, the culture of the east and the west is different. Hinduism? There are more variations within Hinduism in India than there are between different religions at other places!

Democracy? Yes indeed; but the people of the North have never heard of Karunanidhi, the people of the west have never heard of Budhadeb Bhattacharya. Hindi Films? The big B might have more than a 300 million loyal fans (more than the productive population of the USA) but the average Apparao down south would have a tough time placing him.

Cricket is the only thing that unites India's diversity. India's massive talent pool of cricket is (often cruelly) refined and refined again into an elite squad: the men in Blue. And Sachin Tendulkar is the formost and the bluest of them all. A man who's antics on the field make many an Indian's heart beat faster. A person who drives bowlers to utter disarray on his day. A humble genius.

For he carries the hopes and aspirations of 1 billion people. He is among the few things that the people of this entire mass of people actually hold close to their heart.

And part of the problem is that. There's enough talent in India to produce 20 Sachin Tendulkar. If we search deep enough we will find a fast bowler that will put Shohaib Akthar to shame. A spinner who will spin 180 degrees! So, all the people of India look at Sachin - perhaps because they have no one else to look up to.

I'm not too sure about China, but I'm sure you see that Sachin has a strong case to be crowned "most popular man on earth".

Wednesday, May 17, 2006

Fire the Bastards

Striking doctors, no matter how "noble" the cause of their strike might be, should be tried for murder. Emergency health-care should be "strike-proof". Doctors do not make any point by going on strike. They should just be fired for going on strike, for they have put a lot of patients in the line of danger. The nation-dwellers cannot be hijacked by a few selfish personal agendas.

I commend the government for the strong stance that it has taken about these jokers going on strike. Issuing a show-cause notice is a strong move. A move that has the following written boldy upon it: the high and mighty have gradually stopped to wield controlling political power. Power lies with the people. It is a happy day for democracy.

For the real India that is going to take over the world (along with China and the U.S) is essentially not you and me. We're the rich, we're English educated. We, for all practical purposes constitute a state the size of Goa with an American style standard of living. I'm talking about the rest of India. The poor auto-walla in Chennai, the rickshaw driver in Kanpur, the paddy farmer in Bihar, the cotton farmer in Maharashtra, the fisherman of Bengal, the Mumbai slum dweller, the Andhra peasant, the servant maid in Delhi, to name a few. These are the 950 million faces that live modest lives right now, that might live better tomorrow. These are the people who will install air-conditioners in their houses in the near future. These are the people that will purchase pesonal computers. That will shop in large department stores, drive automobiles. (!*)

Any scientifically executed move to awaken this massive middle class is welcome; an intellegent reservation policy, perhaps.

The day that the rest of India starts demanding what the American takes for granted right now is the day that India takes over the world. Not the day that the emergency care doctor goes on strike. That would be the day that he deserves to be fired and tried for murder.

I do believe that patriotism is another divisive ideology like religion, and oppose it in principle. But pragmatism makes me accept patriotism. I do make India-specific allusions here, because I am famililar with issues affecting the sub-continent. In principle I would love to dedicate my life to work that could uplift humanity in general, but that would sound too arrogant.

(!*) The planet does not have enough resources to support an American Style for everyone. Adam Smith's invisible hand will ensure that certian compromises are made; energy efficiency measures are incorporated - and essentially, gas-guzzlers are driven to extinction. But that's a different story altogether. A story that would make interesting reading. Perhaps, I could post bits of it in the future?

Monday, May 15, 2006

Reservations: Not such a massive evil?

Flip. Flop. Flip. Flop.

I'm sorry, Mr. Arjun Singh. I'm sorry I had you possesed by Hitler. I'm sorry I made your hand bleed. I'm sorry I made you say Behe? !hod. I've just read some literature (of sorts) about the Caste debate in India .. and I can see your line of thought (though not quite agree with it).

Firstly, I'll tell you what I think is absolutely wrong with it: caste! Caste has been the number-one society destroyer that has plagued Hinduism (my parents' "religion") since times immemorial. By using caste as a critereon for reservation, all you are doing is re-ingniting those age-old sentiments of casteism. You are turning an oblivious eye to the real factor: poverty. But that's not your fault. Caste based reservations were around for quite some time.

A better system of affirmative action would assure seats to the poor: to those who need aid - and would not deny aid to a poor person from a so-called "upper caste". Rich "lower-caste" people should not be in a position to avail these freebies. But I can see the impracticalities associated with such a legislation, prominent among them being children saying "Damn, it dad! If you were not so rich, I would have been at IIT".

I will have to, therefore grudgingly accept the "populist" solution: that of caste-based reservations: purely because there is absolutely no other option. Unfairness to a handful of poor upper class people is better than unfairness to the infinitely larger lower class. O' great constitution writers, you were more or less right.

There's 24% of SC/STs in India. They have have an almost equal 22.5 reservation. They are so poor that they need all the upliftment that they can get. Then come the OBCs, with 50% of the population. They are marginally better off; they do not need so much "upliftment" as the SC/STs, and they have to do with 27% of the reservation; not 50%.

In an Ideal India later, where everyone is really equal, the so-called OBCs should constitute roughly 50% of the seats in educational institutions. Reservations go meaningless in the future.

This is a murky problem; there is more to it than meets the eye. Ostensibly, denying opportunities to the meritorious might seem criminal; might seem cruel. But one needs to overcome one's prejudices and perfrom an unbiased analysis of the same. These measures might very well cut down our current growth-rate in the short run, but they might go a long way in averting a workers' revoltuion in our country.

There lies a lot of talent in that hitherto undiscovered "backward" mass of under-acheiveing humans in India. Tapping into this potential is like tapping into a half of undiscovered India. Who knows? Maybe within those undiscovered masses lie the new Sachin Tendulkar, the new Homi Bhaba, and what the hell - the new Albert Einstien?

Why is it that these issues are raised only during elections? The fact that politicians do not raise the reservation issue during non-election years essentially tells the people that they really don't care two hoots about social upliftment - but care only about votes ..... which is the way democracy is supposed to function ... intentions are of little value. Only results matter.

With these reservations, our country might very well grow faster in the long run.

He wants to take care of us

There is someone up in the sky,
who wants to look after you and I.
He hates to let things go wrong;
He wants to keep us happy and strong.

He would like to give us shelter from the rain,
He craves to protect us from anguish and pain.
And He desires to protect the coast from the wave,
and from the mighty hurricane.

He wants no violence on his name,
Peace is his method, his aim!
He is the god that We beleive in;
Utter incompetence, his only sin.

Saturday, May 06, 2006


There was once a little village -
Long before this day and age.
And within that lived a tribe;
It raised animals to survive.

Let's start with the family of Manmohan Singh,
He raised cows for a living.
Near his sedate and slow moving cow,
Bulls, his family would never allow.
To the calves, they would feed all the grass,
The milk bearing cows, they would starve.
The cows then started to perish-
The milk supply started to finish.

And then the clan of Jacques Chirac
Who made their life toiling with an ass.
The ass was to carry brick and stone-
To build many a happy home.
The ass, he would feed a lot daily,
Regardless of the work quality.
The ass started to work less and less,
But Chirac still kept feeling it in excess.

The weasel belonged to one Vladimir Putin,
Ostensibly, it looked famished and thin.
The weasel would smile at the dinos and the cows,
But would secretly snack on frozen chicken beside its house.
And eating the chicken gave it sharp teeth now,
It looks more the dragon it used to, less like a cow.
When it was a dragon, it had learnt,
How to breathe fire, how to get the village burnt.

And Hu Jintao had a fire breating dragon,
It was visible to no one.
He would sacrifice one from his family to the dragon every year.
His family would live in eternal fear.
Though the dragon would devour one every year,
Hu reckoned procreation was the cure.
Dragons can kill asses, can kill cows
And dinsoaurs too, if push came to shove.

George Bush had a pet called Fido,
a massive fire breathing dino.
The dino had everything cheap-
And therefore would just eat, eat and eat.
While a cow would just ruminate,
Fido would devour a little forest.
But there's no forest anymore now
Fido might just have to diet, you know.

Thursday, April 20, 2006

A Love Song

'twas a dreary and rainy night,
On the damp road, there was not a soul in sight.
After a long and tiring work day,
Towards home he started making his way.

He was working on a new theory,
Something to do with Quantum Gravity.
He was thinking of equations in his head,
When he percieved a silhouette.

He was fed up of walking all alone;
Wouldn't it be nice to walk with someone?
He walked faster, to catch up with the silhouette,
Till all between them was not more than a step.

All of a sudden, he heard a loud sound -
and he knew what was coming around.
He had seen this before on TV -
How a tornado can sneak up on you and me.

And without further ado he knew what to do -
To an underground cellar he had to get through!
He leaped immediately and dragged the silhouette,
Into an underground cellar.

The slihouette turned out to be an angry young woman-
Abduction wasn't her idea of fun!
Then all of a sudden, they heard violent windy noises above-
her cynicysm turned to gratitude and love.

He hadn't seen her for a second - but he was in love-
Her face was beautiful, her voice -wow!
They hugged and kissed like a song,
Made sweet love all night long.

It was too good to be true he thought,
He was right, for true it was not.
He had fallen asleep on his books
after giving them many blank looks.

And then he awoke to a realization that was rude;
It was a dream, she was not true!
So, he set on his way home,
The atmosphere was rainy, one of gloom.

And he did see a damsel ahead-
- a silhouette.
And sure enough, he heard those sounds
A tornado was surely doing the rounds!

He grabbed her to the nearest cellar,
She was outraged - I don't blame her.
Not a sound came frome above-
no tornado - and certainly no love.

She took out her cellphone, called the cop-
And he is now doing time behind the lock!

Saturday, April 15, 2006

Exploiting Democracy: A peek at the government's future plans

An internal communication within the ruling congress party was intercepted. It distresses one and all that these are the people in charge of the bomb and responsible for a nation that is responsible for the future of the planet in many ways.

Dear Madam Sonia,

Politicians until now have avoided taking some bold populist measures. With electoral battles getting closer every election, we are proud to see that our political party has some up aces up its sleeve.

Print more money

The main problem with India is that poor people are poor. They have insufficient money with them. If money is distributed to everyone, everyone will have money. So, more money could be printed in the mints - and distributed to the masses. Now, everybody can buy food, and everybody will be happy. And to increase the efficiency further, leaves can be used instead of cash! (Borrowing an idea from the Hitch-Hiker's guide).

There will be a few (most probably educated) detractors. They might claim that this will result in rampant inflation - and that the common man will be no better off. These arguments might seem convincing, but the successful politician learns how to deal with such sophistry. All one needs to do is to call these people elitists - and point out that these people do not have the interests of the common people at heart.

Legalize, nay, make compulsory copying in Examinations:

The masses are not intelligent enough to work hard for exams; they are more given into smoking bidis before the same. Since only a small proportion (the "elite") can perform well, it is unfair to discriminate against others - for no fault of their own. It is wise to propose that a level playing field be established in the examination hall by allowing the transfer of data from one answer paper to another.

Students unwilling to share information with others should be disallowed from taking the examination and should be imprisoned for a month. Such a fine will act as a deterrent to these anti-social tendencies.

Such policies have yielded extensive electoral success to the Mulayam Singh and the Rabri Devi governments.

Allow Encroachment

Occasionally, the Indian Railways tries to get rid of people who dwell close to the railway tracks. It is proposed that Indian Railways be forced to allow these encroachments. Any deaths that result can be banned from the Hindi / Local media, so as to stem the propagation of news. It is important to preserve the notion that the nation enjoys a free press, though - for any repression would hurt electoral fortunes.

The stories may be shown on English media, since the elitists won't vote for us anyway.

Land Reform

A cue must be taken from Mugabe's Zimbabwe. Rich land owners and home owners constitute a very small proportion of the electorate. The poor masses comprise a larger chunk. It is proposed that the poor be urged to usurp the land of the rich man - and that the constitution be amended to allow what would currently be considered an transgeression of the Indian Penal Code. The rich man will not vote for us anyway, being an elitist. It is the poor we are worried about.

Will these measures not dry up electoral funding?

Before embarking on any of these revolutionary measures, it is proposed that the party procure large orchards everywhere - so as to possess ample leaves - thereby doing away with the need for electoral funding of any sort.

Yours Sincerely,

Manmohan Singh

Prime Minster and Chief Populist
Republic of India