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Showing posts from July, 2005

Where's the money going?

Karnataka's revenues have registered a phenomenal growth of 26 per cent in the last four months of the current fiscal after introduction of VAT, so says Deputy Chief Minister and Finance Minister Siddaramaiah. Details here.

But where's all the money going?

Tiles fall off Discovery

Discovery lifted off yesterday. The day before, NASA issued a strange statement. That the shuttle will be launched even if it is not fully fit to fly. I thought it was most strange, if nothing else. There was no controversy over this remark. Still strange!

And today, I find news and video clips of a tile falling off the shuttle. And, missing tiles were the main reason for the previous disaster.

Are the astronauts up there in space know of the tiles falling off?

Lance Armstrong

Lance Armstrong is not just the greatest cyclist the world has seen, his life is one the rare success stories. Today he won the Tour de France for the seventh time in a row. We wouldn't see him cycling again, for he has called it a day.

In 1996 October, after he was ranked Number one cyclist in the world, he was diagnosed with cancer, which spread to various organs of his body. He was put on chemotherapy with doctors giving him less than 50 per cent of survival. He fought his way out, successfully, picked up his cycle again, and rode his way to immortality.

An amazing inspirational story really worth reading.

The Costs Children Pay

An interesting article in USA Today on "The Costs Children Pay"

Last year, the number of premature babies — those delivered after spending less than 37 weeks in the womb — climbed to 480,000 and now accounts for nearly 8% of all births.....

Cohabitation is getting to be a habit with Americans. From 1960 through 2000, the number of unmarried couples living together increased tenfold. Today, about 8% of all households with couples are cohabitors....

The steady climb in the number of couples living together sans wedding rings is one reason the divorce rate has been falling. That sounds promising — until you realize that the divorce rate is falling only because there are fewer married couples around to split up...

Suddenly, the story becomes about the children. Years of research by sociologists have pinned down the need children have for stability. If home life is destabilized, a long list of child well-being indicators, such as school performance and behavior problems, tilts downwa…

Potter mania

J.K. Rowling’s Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince hit the stands on July 16.

View 1: It’s all just hype. A mad, meaningless craze. A cleverly staged PR stunt.

View 2: Before Rowling came of the scene, when did we last see children queue up for a book early in the morning, world over? What a refreshing sight it was. We always keep saying no one reads books; now it is all visual, computers, DVD, cartoons, graphics etc. How wrong are we! The written word is not dead, not at all. Even elders are reading, to see what the craze is all about!

My view: the latter.

And Rowling, just imagine someone writing seven volumes, having the world's children under her spell, and no complaints yet. Some achievement this!

Rich poor Bangalore

We Bangaloreans are through with Singapore. Now the city will begin to look like Shanghai, or that's what some minister says. Comprehensive Development Plan 2005, Metro Rail, International Airport... what not...

Every time I am violently shaken my through some of the craters that are also called roads, I wonder what is dream what is reality.

We can't get a few stretches of road tarred in time. What are then we talking about?

World's most IT companies have an office in Bangalore. Rs 1-crore houses are not unheard of. Monthly rent of Rs 50,000 plus is becoming common. A plant sapling that used to cost Rs 10 is quoted at Rs 85. (That woman who was selling it off Marthahalli on way to IT Park, could have rounded it off Rs 100!) Bangalore is a rich city, how much ever poor we are. Private companies are minting money. The government is earning crores by way of taxes. Where is it all going? A big scam here? I am sure, there is.

Lab goes out of Bangalore

U.S. software firm Versata transferring lab from Bangalore, India, to Halifax

Keith Doucette, Canadian Press
July 15, 2005

HALIFAX (CP) - An overheated information technology sector in India is behind a move by American software firm Versata Inc. to transfer its development lab from Bangalore to Halifax, eventually locating up to 85 jobs in Nova Scotia.

Brett Adam, Versatas' chief technology officer, said Thursday it is increasingly difficult to retain staff in Bangalore... for more than nine months due to the number of rich job opportunities available to them.

Adam said the "post-bubble" environment of the technology sector in the United States, Australia and Canada is more stable than in some other countries.

Read more here.

Learning English

The debate raging in Karnataka over teaching English in government schools from Std I baffles me.

My logic is simple: you don't need to be taught your mother tongue. It's there in your blood. The importance of English today is only too obvious. I just can't understand what's to be debated on whether children should be taught English from Std I.

The apparent fear is that Kannada will die if children are taught English. Who needs whom? Children need the language, or the language needs children? Whose death is more important: language or children?

Language is a tool; used for a purpose. A one-year-old doesn't need a language to talk to her mother. Later her needs increase, and thereby a language to communicate.

There is a world of difference between a bicycle and a car. When you need a car, you don't take your bicycle. And, you don't refuse to buy a car, because you feel bicycles will become extinct if you don't buy and use them. A local language has its use. …

Bangalore after dark

The cover story on the Sunday supplement of New Indian Express is on Bangalore. It's specifically about the night life, from anywhere between the streets to the call centre office rooms.

The article is a first-hand account. Edited excerpts are below as an appetiser. Below that is the link to the original artcle. And, in case of difficulty in accessing the link, the entire article is reproduced at the end.

We Bangaloreans may find the article quite an uncharitable description. So before we judge it, let us remember that the article selectively focusses only on one particlar aspect of a multicultural, multilingual, multiethnic, multiprofessional, muliti... (whatever) city.

Excerpts:

** Three young men are peering into a piece paper, and one of them is scribbling on it furiously. The fourth occupant of the table, a woman in her early 20s, has no interest in what they are doing. She takes leisurely drags at her cigarette, coming to life only when the man sitting beside her puts an arm aro…

US must wake up

I am never tired of repeating this. Had the world's superpowers, particularly the US, been serious about the terror attacks in India during the 1990s, the hideous, cataclysmic events of 9/11 wouldn't have happened. The Times of India has put out a story on how terrorists prior to 9/11 used India as a laboratory to perfect their strategies and make dryruns of their plans.

Some of those deadly attacks in India were:
* 1993 serial blasts in Mumbai and subsequent incidents of bombing commuter transport.
* Hijacking of an Indian Airlines plane in December 1999.

The hijackers who successfully bargained their way out, walked cross the border from Taliban's Afghanistan to Pakisatan. Less than two years later, George Bush realised the Pakistan link to 9/11, and the rest, as they say, is history.

The Mumbai blasts took 258 lives, and the mastermind, Dawood Ibrahim is in Pakistan.

The report says: "Last year, new methodology used by the CIA’s Counterterrorism Center to tabulate terror…

O, I just don't have time!

That's one excuse -- or rather a reason, justifiable or not -- we always have for not keeping up a promise or commitment. I have been asking myself how true is that. Are we really short of time? Or, is it that our planning is so bad that we don't find time for important things? Or, is it that some things just don't interest us?

VG is a typical citizen of New Bangalore whom I know well: an Information Technology Professional. After studying in IIT, he walked into a US university, landed a plum job and spent some 15 years there. A year back, he accepted, after prolonged contemplation, a lucrative offer of a very reputed MNC to relocate to the comforts of Bangalore as the head of worldwide operation of a segment of the company.

Whenever I talk to his proud father and mother, I enquire about VG. "O, he has just no time," they tell me, with a tone of disappointment or frustration, I am unable to make out. "He has no time to talk to us even. Even on Saturday he has …

Terror strikes London

When the first bits the news of today's explosions began trickling in in the afternoon, I couldn't help exclaiming: It was long coming. Britain was nowhere even near the hit-list of al-Qaida until Tony Blair in such a servile, unabashed manner followed George Bush in the War on Terror. So much so that Britain almost became another state of the US.

Not that Bush's War on Terror wasn't worth supporting. In fact, the whole world rallied around him after 9/11. But it is the manner in which Bush and Blair conducted that war that led to the erosion of most of the support.

Britain is no stranger to terrorism, unlike the US. For nearly a century it has lived with the violence unleashed by Irish terrorists. Lord Mountbatten was one of the famous victims of that terrorism, and Margret Thatcher narrowly escaped. Post-Thatcher, Britain learnt to negotiate with the terrorists without losing face, worked out landmark agreements, and today Irish terrorism is history.

When Britain could …

Sensible people

The infamous burning of Sabarmati Express triggered the Gujarat riots in Feb 2002. But after that, though there have been terror attacks, that too on religous places, we haven't had riots.

There was a suicide terrorist attack on Akshardham temple in Gujarat itself in September 2002. 47 people also died in that. But people stayed calm.

In November 2002, there was an attack on Raghunath Temple in Jammu. People stayed calm.

Yesterday, the controversial makeshift temple at Ayodhya was attacked similarly. But again life went on normally, not just in the temple town but across the country. As many commentators pointed out, people seem to be much wiser than the politicians.

Have we seen the last of the riots?

By indulging in all sorts of indiscrete statements, the politicians are only helping the terrorists. What must happens is, God forbid, but whenever there is such an attack, at least in public, the politicians should close ranks, and let life go on as normal.

Today it was painful to see …

A friend, transformed

Today, we had a friend and his family coming home for lunch. It was after a long, long time that we could meet like we did today and sit and talk for quite a while.

He had once told me about some strange diet regulations he was into. Today I casually asked him if it was still on. He said it was. And that was surprising to me. Because, he is not the one to get into these restrictions on food so easily unless ordered by the doctor.

So, even though I don't like to ask personal questions, I asked why he has gone into this very unusual regimen. Then, his wife and he said, "There is a long, long story behind it." That made me curious and restless. What could that be?

"I have been diagnosed with blood cancer," he said.

Though it hit me hard, I just laughed it off. "Hey comm'n, don't joke. Tell the truth." I couldn't believe it. You just don't walk around like this, joking with that 'C' in you.

"But, it's true," they said wit…