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Showing posts from December, 2005

Au revoir 2005

Turning points are always moments for reflection.Change of calendar year is one such moment.Time to look back at the hits and misses.But effort should always be to look ahead.As Peter Drucker said:"Follow effective action withQuite reflection.From the quite reflectionWill come more effective action."Live in the present.Learn from the past.Look to the future.May there be less of hatred, anger and violence.May there be lots of happiness and fun.Wish you all a New Year 2006That will see you realise your dreams, andBring in lots of Happiness and Success.

Attack on IISc Bangalore

So, the much-feared terrorist attack in Bangalore has happened. Mercifully, only one life was lost. But the bigger tragedy is that we had to have this happen (inspite of intelligence reports, and media follow-ups) for our government, and IISc itself, to realise that the terror threat is real indeed.

Interestingly, IISc director Balram refused to comment when asked whether his institution had learnt lessons after the security breach during Chinese PM Wen Jiabao's visit to the IISc in April. In March newspapers had front paged a story on how Lashkar was targeting Bangalore.

Nothing happens to VIPs. It's always only the innocents who suffer.

One refrain was: "We will learn only if such a thing happens." It's a very sad commentary on our administration. IISc was very much on the Lashkar radar (newspapers had spoken of it.), though sadly like always only IT companies were in the focus.

But terrorists are no fools. It didn't need our CM, Dharam Singh, to say today morn…

Srirangam-Thanjavur diary

One of the most striking features of south India, is the large number of temples. They open to a visitor the vast artistic heritage of our country. Some of the prominent temples are the ones at Kancheepuram, Chidambaram, Thanjavur and Madurai.The one in Srirangam is a huge one, in fact I am told that this temple which is spread over 150 acres is the only one in the country with seven enclosures: symbolic of the seven elements that make up the human body. Interestingly, the main entrance to the temple faces the south, which is exceptional since normally it should face east. Of course, there is a complicated local legend that accounts for it. We were here on 21st. The architecture is simply breathtaking, especially considering the fact that building science hadn't evolved to the extent it is today.We then moved to Thanjavur, one of the most prominent temple towns of India. Because of lack of time, we had to do a hurried tour. Brihadeeswarar Temple or the Big Temple is …

Nagapattinam diary 2

J Radhakrishnan, collector extraordinaireWhen you think of reconstruction of tsunami-ravaged Nagapattinam, the name that comes uppermost in mind is that District Collector J Radhakrishnan, an IAS officer of sterling qualities. He smashes all myths about a bureaucrat being subservient to politicians. He has been instrumental in the rebuilding of Nagapattinam.After the tragedy struck, relief flooded in. As the head of the district administration, he put in place a completely transparent coordination network among the NGOs. He survived the usual allegations of religious bias, conversions etc, with calmness and firmness. He has been described as the "people's collector" and is perhaps the most well-known person in this district.When we journalists shot question after question, sought details of each and everything, sought facts and figures, Radhakrishnan was cool, composed and patient; and most importantly extremely polite. Rarely you get to meet such public se…

Nagapattinam diary 1

I was back at Nagapattinam on Tuesday, 20th. Last year in January I had been there. This district -- which accounted for 6,065 tsunami deaths, with 3,378 in the town alone -- was the worst hit in India.But as I travelled around the place, I just couldn't believe this was the very same place I had been to last year. So much has changed. As collector J Radhakrishnan said the district was lucky to get plenty of relief material. And all that the government had to do was to coordinate the efforts of NGOs.I attended a public function at which 375 families were handed over houses constructed by Mata Amritanandamayi Mutt under the guidance of IIT Madras engineers. The people got not just houses, but a fully integrated township spread across 11 acres -- complete with stormwater drains, roads, effluent treatment plant, children's play area, reading room. Wow! It's an incredible township, and Mata Amritanandamayi Mutt is the first NGO to complete such a township for the…

Twists and turns in life

Life is often compared to a long journey, like a long, long ride in a car. There are twists and turns; upslopes and downslopes; terrains, rugged and smooth. We take them all in our stride. We halt for a break, and resume the journey.Sometimes I feel we all get too bogged down with these twists and turns, without realising that the journey goes on.What matters is not the different turns that our life takes, but what comes out of that new turn the life has taken.Life may not turn out the way we want, but we can always make the best of the way life turns out.Am I right?

Rape, murder of IT professional in Bangalore -- Lessons

Yesterday the news spread like wild fire through phone networks, emails and TV channels. And, a shocked Bangalore -- from CEOs to some semiliterate cab drivers -- had only one subject to discuss -- the rape and murder of a newly-wed young software professional, Prathibha, by her cab driver, Shivakumar, after she was picked up for work at 2 am.

Coincidentally, tragically, on Dec 13, the day Prathibha was murdered, I wrote on sexual harassment, and why such incidents take place, and what can be done.

IT employees of Bangalore have been soft targets for some time. It started with snatching of mobile phones, cash, jewellery etc. And, now the worst has happened.

Prathibha had a cellphone (considered by many girls as an important safety device), she used to call up her husband, Pavan, before leaving office and after reaching office. When Pavan didn't hear from her, how on earth would he imagine that the worst had happened? Do we now always suspect the worst when someone doesn't pick u…

The glass of water

The following anecdote came to my email inbox as a forwarded mail. It's one of those inspirational ones that do the rounds on the web.
A professor began his class by holding up a glass with some water in it. He held it up for all to see and asked the students, "How much do you think this glass weighs?""50gms... 100gms... 125gms..." the students answered.
"I really don't know unless I weigh it," said the professor. Now let me ask you another question: "What would happen if I held it up like this for a few minutes?""Nothing," one student said."Ok, what would happen if I held it up like this for an hour?" the professor asked."Your arm would begin to ache," said one of the students."You're right, now what would happen if I held it for a day?""Your arm could go numb, you might have severe muscle stress and paralysis and would have to go to hospital for sure!" ventured another…

Sexual harassment

This posting stems out of Ranjit's December 9 posting on eve-teasing, sexual harassment and other perverted deviant behaviours. Giving links to some victims' traumatising experiences, he says, "Such men (who indulge in sexual harassment) deserve to be castrated - without anaesthesia, and with a numb saw - slowly, with the intent to inflict maximum damage."He says girls should react more and more rather than succumb meekly; and "most of all, we - the men who condemn so easily - ought to express our outrage more publicly".During my college days in Kerala, guys who travelled by the government road transport's (KSRTC's) crowded "college buses" used to brag about how they got to disgusting proximity to girls' upper torso, and rubbed their excited members on girls' bodies.  (Unlike private buses, women are at the rear of the government buses near the door. So, at peak hours men and women get huddled together.) And, scared …

Violence over bad road

Yesterday's incident on Kanakapura Road in South East Bangalore where a protest by residents over bad state of roads is a pointer to how things can deteriorate. People were fed up with lack of any improvement in the state of roads and angry that politicians' promises of betterment have remained just that.Ironically, it happened on the very day Bill Gates was in the city expounding the immense potential of Information Technology, and our shameless Dharam Singh and Deve Gowda pleading with Gates for more help in improving the rural sector. (What is Singh and Gowda doing with all the help that is already coming in, not just from Gates but many others too?)

Working vs non-working parents

Yesterday I happened to watch on TV an all-woman discussion programme. I missed the initial part, but the topic seemed to be "Difficulties of Bringing up Children".I heard one woman say: "When mothers work, the children are deprived of love. Often the father is always in the office. Imagine if the mother is also always in her office! The role the mother plays for her child is unique and she fails in that if she works. Children are definitely at a disadvantage when their mothers work...."There was near unanimity among the 15 or so women in the group, since there was no counterargument; except from one. This is what she said: "Even if both parents work, they can definitely find time to be with their children. Cases of fathers almost always missing from home because of work are exceptions rather than the rule. In most cases working parents are able to make some arrangement by which children are looked after well..."... What is important is not …

Science demystified

I am back after a break. But, meanwhile, I have been reading this fascinating non-fiction: A Short History of Nearly Everything by Bill Bryson. The book was kindly lent to me by my friend: Shripriya.The introduction to the book begins thus:Welcome. And congratulations. I am delighted that you could make it. Getting here wasn't easy. I know. In fact, I suspect it was a little tougher than you realise.And, he explains why I need to be congratulated.... for you to be here now, trillions of drifting atoms had somehow to assemble in an intricate and curiously obliging manner to create you. It's an arrangement so specialised and particular that it has never been tried before... For the next many years... these tiny particles will uncomplainingly engage in all the billions of deft, cooperative efforts necessary to keep you intact and let you experience the supremely agreeable but generally under appreciated state known as existence.Bryson demystifie…