Skip to main content


Showing posts from September, 2009

Small Cars and more

Alan Mullaly was here in New Delhi, India to launch Ford’s small car named Figo. This shows the importance of the small-car thrust of the global major as well as the key role to be played by India in that endeavor. Next in line are Volkswagen with their Golf or Polo and also Toyota and Nissan Renault. That will bring things full circle. That will mean all the global biggies will be here: · Toyota · Ford · Volkswagen · Honda · General Motors · Mercedes · BMW · Audi · Ferrari · Porsche · Nissan Renault Wow! One can say: ‘What a country!!!’ I guess it might be easy to forget in this festivity that there are still kids begging at many traffic stops on the streets of New Delhi.

Julia and Rahul

Julia Roberts is in India and as usual there’s breathless reporting of the event — quite sickening. It always happens, of course — in my short life, I recall similar stuff from Michael Jackson’s visit to Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie’s visit. Also, Princess Diana’s visit had generated some amount of breathless reporting. But I guess the Princess must have been used to much worse tabloid and paparazzi stuff back home and in Europe and America. Rahul Mahajan wants to follow in the footsteps of Rakhi. Both are birds of the same feather of course. I wonder what people feel now that Rakhi has decided not to marry the guy she chose during her swayambar. Do people feel like she took them for a ride??? Or, are people still game for one more ride? I think there will be enough girls who would apply to be Rahul’s bride in spite of the fact that he is a once-married man who divorced his pilot wife. India is in the early stages of following a Western-style celebrity-culture and we can boast of our o

Pushing the envelop, Indian Style — Ever so gingerly

Let’s not talk about boring stuff such as Ahmadinejad denying the Holocaust or Netanyahu scoffing such talk or India discovering water on the Moon! Instead, let’s talk about more interesting stuff — let’s talk about Indian women’s attitude towards sexuality. Just looking at things rather randomly, as you move across India, you find people’s (or women’s) attitudes varying somewhat. Women have developed different comfort levels with their sexuality. In North India, you find a typically ‘Punjabi’ attitude with females wearing ‘tight’ — body hugging — clothing that reveals the various ‘curves’ of their bodies. I am, of course, at a loss to understand the logic behind this. I mean, in the broadest sense. When females try to ‘show off’ their bodies — and what this means of course varies extravagantly when considered on a global scale — what does that mean, basically? I think she’s trying to say: look at me, admire me, look at how great my body is, how sexy I’m! Anyway, that’s not the point I

Japanese Tuna, John Edwards and Iwo Jima

The Japanese have a legendary appetite for seafood — much to the misfortune of sea life. Tuna fish happen to be one of the victims of this food fancy. Of course, just as the Japanese have pretty much hunted whales almost to the point of extinction, the seas near Japan have similarly lost much of their population of tuna fish. The Japanese have such a legendary appetite for such stuff that they even import seafood (specifically, prawns) from Orissa in India which happens to be my home state. It seems somewhat astonishing or bewildering that we humans who occupy less than one-third of the planet’s surface which is land should be able to deplete resources from the oceans which occupy more than two-thirds of the planet’s surface. On a completely different note — global warming deniers claim that humans are too insignificant a presence on the planet to be able to affect something as vast as the planet’s climate as the planet is too big. As the state of marine life shows, we humans certainly

Interesting times

Here are some random occurrences that together make for an interesting tapestry/collage. Abramovich has fitted his yatch with fancy laser devices that will disable digital cameras ... this to protect himself from the prying eyes of the paparazzi. People are committing suicides just because some politician died ... this in apna AP. Or, are they??? Some ladies are using breast enhancement techniques ... but, that's old-fashioned now. So, some who want to be at the vanguard — Pam Anders, Vic Becks — are starting an opposing trend ... that of breast reduction. I say, cheers to that!!! I don't know why though ... I just have one thought. Will Indian ladies follow their Western counterparts as usual??? But then, since things tend to happen in India with a certain time lag, will Indian ladies first go for breast enhancement in the years to come or will they skip that part and go straight for breast reduction??? Interesting possibilities indeed. Talking about contradictions, there&#

When Babies Die

When celebrities die — and these past few months seem to have seen more than the usual quota of celebrity deaths — we see an overwhelming outpouring of public grief and grieving and reminiscing. What a contrast this is to a true tragedy such as when a baby dies. The doctors at AIIMS recently performed a rare surgery to treat an infant who had been born with her heart outside her rib cage. The doctors created a cavity inside her chest and put the heart where it belongs. However, 22 days later, the baby dies. One story of death in a nation of billion-plus people which didn’t get the attention it deserved. Because of the unique nature of the problem and the treatment, it at least made it to the news media. What I want to say here though is this: what does this story tell us about life? Is there anything we should learn about life or question — does this story have the power to unhinge us to our cores? It’s easy to read about this news item and forget about it in due course. But I’m sure w

Faux Austerity

Or, should this be called "pseudo austerity?" Congressmen are basically like a flock of sheep who like to move in a herd and have a deeply ingrained "follow the leader" mentality. So, we are seeing the sudden emergence of all these various austerity measures being adopted by the ministers. Let me clarify that I am not one of those who like to villify politicians for all tha ails this country. It's certainly not the politicians' fault that this nation boasts a population of 1.2 billion — well, except, may be a few 'exceptional' ones such as Laloo Yadav. But, on the whole, as someone had said, "we deserve the politicians we have." We should not forget that after all we are the ones who have voted these folks to power. The "standard" of our politicians is merely a reflection of our standards as voters. Be that as it may, the pious proclamations and demostrations of various austerity measures are of course pretentious. But, I guess,

Interesting Zip Codes

Arlington, VA — 22222 Fort Lauderdale, FL — 33333 Newton Falls, OH — 44444 Young America, MN — 55555 Topeka, KS — 66667 Beaumont, TX — 77710 Austin, TX — 78780 Scottsdale, near Phoenix, AZ — 85001 1600 Pennsylvania Ave. NW Washington, DC — 20500 Schenectady, NY — 12345 Virginia beach, VA — 23456 Scottown, OH — 45678 New York City, NY — 10001 Washington, DC — 20002 Norcross, GA — 30003 Bardstown, KY — 40004 Albion, IA — 50005 Arlington Heights, IL — 60006 Los Angeles, CA — 90009

Celebrities and Cancer

Recent days have seen some known personalities succumb to various types of cancer. Patrick Swayze Farrah Fawcett Sen. Ted Kennedy Lisa Ray has recently revealed that she has been diagnosed with multiple myeloma . I wonder what effect these sort of news have on the general population. People in India, in particular tend to have strange attitudes towards diseases in general ... huge numbers of Indians still believe in quaint stuff like astrology. Indians probably still believe that if somebody gets cancer or some such dreadful disease, it might have something to do with their past misdeeds and the disease might be a manifestation of God's anger writ large. When faced with personal disasters such as these, Indians tend to react in weird ways. They tend to start visiting temples and stuff and do more than the usual quota of beseeching God(s). I find this silly, hilarious, and even irritatingly stupid. Let me explain. I can say from personal experience how medical science has been a re

Sheraton Maurya Krishna and Shashi T’aj’haroor

The saga of the new-age Krishna/Balaram pair is truly curious. In the age of mythologies, Balaram used to be the elder of the brothers, but now it’s Krishna who is playing elder brother to Balaram, a.k.a. Shashi. The Full-bright Krishna is normally used to all the ‘amenities’ and creature comforts of his heavenly abode, so naturally he found his ‘respective’ State Bhavan not quite up to the mark — quite understandably. Also, in his new role as India’s official globetrotter, he must be used to diverse locales and cuisines and peoples, etc. So, may be he was just choosing to stay in a place that has been home to many a world leaders including Bill Clinton and myriad others. Surely, that is part of his job-brief. This way, he could continue to sample a lot of ‘global’ offerings without burdening the meager taxpayer-funded resources of the Government of India with endless jaunts abroad. But, alas politics is a strange profession and though sometimes it might seem that the game is bereft of

Heart Attacks and Car Sales

Ramalinga Raju has apparently suffered a heart attack. So, the usual trend of VIPs in jail suffering from a heart attack continues. So, nothing new there and nothing much to comment about. All I would like to say is that I do not agree with the overall condemnation of Raju ... the kind of massive avalanche of criticism that he had to face when he admitted to falsifying Satyam's accounts. People were being too sanctimonious, I thought. I want him to get the credit for building a successful IT company from scratch — a company that has generated direct employment for some 50,000 youngsters and many more if you consider all the trickle down effects of that. In other news, car sales in India in August have zoomed according to industry data. This is very much a counter-cyclical trend in the global automobile industry. The industry is is decline in much of the world. So, global automakers are all making a beeline to the Indian market which is basically the only game in town. This upstrea

Gold Getting Costly — so, what's new?

Well, what's new is that it's getting costlier than ever. It seems people's insatiable and unquenchable thirst for the precious metal has reached some sort of epidemic proportions. Or, may be, it's just simple mathematics. Since, gold is found only in limited quantities, and the number of people on the planet and therefore number of people who desire to own gold is endlessly increasing, the price of gold will continue to increase ad infinitum. I fail to understand this craze, of course. This craze is particularly endemic in our blessed land where marriages don't happen without the presence of the yellow metal. Will someone explain to the people that this is just a metal like any other metal, say, iron, or aluminum, etc.? Well, I don't think people will understand it anyhow. So, it's basically a hopeless situation. People's fascination with gold will be there for the forseeable future and so the price of gold will continue to increase ... unless, of cours

The Terrible Tragedy of Encounters and State Sponsered Terrorism

The metropolitan magistrate's report which describes the cold-blooded murder of Ishrat Jahan needs to be an eye-opener for all those who care about democracy in this country called India. When the entire heavy apparatus of the State moves in orchestrated fashion against a lone individual, it becomes very difficult for the individual to fight back ... or, for that matter, for that individual's family to fight for justice. In India, the judicial system still seems to be working, at least on the surface. The press also sometimes seems to perform its role as a watchdog that will try to catch public servants from performing misdeeds. However, these vital pillars of a functioning democracy are semi-functional at best. Therein lies the danger that if we don't stay vigilant enough and don't care enough about democracy, the edifice of democracy itself might well collapse. The core question of course is how truly democracy-minded the people of India are. I think the answer is — n

Replicating the Human Brain

Prof. Henry Markram of the Brain Science Institute in Switzerland says that it's possible to replicate the functions of the human brain on a supercomputer in the next ten year. This has many interesting possibilities. For neuroscientistss grappling with the mysteries of the human brain and the many diseases that afflict the brain, the modelling of the brain might offer insights into its workings that in turn will help to develop treatments. On a more subtle level, understanding the neuronal mechanisms might offer some clues to understanding complex human emotions and "higer order" skills that only humans have. Might we someday understand the physiological basis of such uniquely human attributes such as fear, anger, love, envy, anxiety, hatred and many others? And how does one allocate scare financial resources to such a project with uncertain benefits? We live in times when communities and nations have to choose between conflicting priorities: some priorities seem obvious