Showing posts from February, 2006

US, India, China and the Dollar

One may like or loathe America. But we all have to accept one fact -- that the USA is one nation that puts its interest uppermost, come what may. Rules of the game, propriety; ethical, social or environmental concerns just don't matter. Everything is fine as long as America is fine.

It's a country that practises the "Theory of enlightened self-interest" to the last detail. When there is a conflict between your principle and self-interest, which one will you sacrifice? America doesn't sacrifice either; it merely changes the principle to suit the new self-interest!

See, how America gets professionals from all over the world, and makes them work for their country! America is a country that is run by the best people from around the world.

America never liked India for two reasons (in spite of sharing almost all values systems that America itself practises): one, we were close to its Cold War enemy, Soviet Union; and two, more importantly, America never had access to Ind…

Whither blogging

The Financial Times Magazine, London, has carried a well-written and comprehensive article by Trevor Butterworth, a writer based in Washington DC, on blogging. It discusses how the nascent medium has grown, where it stands vis-à-vis conventional journalism, and the economics of the medium. A unique thing the magazine did was it opened a blog to where readers could post their comments on the article.

Some salient points of the article:

** Even in the US, the blogosphere’s superpower, most internet users -- 62 per cent according to a survey by the Pew Internet and American Life Project -- aren’t exactly sure what a blog is.

** At the close of 2002, there were some 15,000 blogs. By 2005, 56 new blogs were starting every minute. As I type this sentence, there are, according to, 27.2 million blogs. By the time you read this sentence, there surely will be many more.

** One of the conventions that happened to work in blogging’s favour was the way the media take a new trend and des…

Bird flu theories

When news reports of HIV-AIDS began first appearing in the media in late 1970s or early 1980s, there were all sorts of theories floating around. Only that unlike now, there wasn't a vaccine to be "promoted" then. Mostly the theories were centred around on how it was part of a grand American plan to finish off the developing world.

In mid-1990s during the outbreak of plague in Surat, similar conspiracy theories were floated. Interesting thing is that while there was proof the virus in the laboratory, there wasn't anything to substantiate the wild theories. The flights of imagination were a good source of entertainment. However, one good outcome was that a "stinking Surat" was transformed into a "spick-and-span Surat".

Now we have the bird flu theories:

1. Western companies and governments were amazed that SARS and mad cow disease didn't affect India. They were jealous. They found that a big market for drugs had been left out. So, they introduced b…

Bird flu and media

I hate this -- if things have gone out of control and don't know whom to blame, then point the finger at the media. I hate this not because I belong to the media. I hate it because it plainly makes no sense.

It's akin to shooting the messenger; because media is a carrier of information. Nothing more. Nothing less. Different media deal with different issues in different ways. And thus, the method of rendition and the diverse information contained therein serve differerent purposes to different people.

I am writing this because I was told that media has been blowing the bird flu incidence in India out of proportion. I would accept that observation as an individual's personal viewpoint, with which I disagree.

It's not true that media has been sensationalising the bird flu issue. Different media organisations have been treating the information in their own manner, and rightly so. No one has sensationalised it. No one has blown it out of any prorportion.

The issue here is info…

Tell me whom you love, I'll tell you who you are

Love's in the air, as the cliche goes. And on Valentine's Day, let me reproduce a beautiful, touching, moving piece, that keeps getting forwarded across emails over and over again. Here it is:

Tell me whom you love, I'll tell you who you are

John Blanchard stood up from the bench, straightened his Army uniform, and studied the crowd of people making their way through Grand Central Station. He looked for the girl whose heart he knew, but whose face he didn’t, the girl with the rose.

His interest in her he had begun 13 months before in a Florida library. Taking a book off the shelf, he found himself intrigued, not with the words of the book, but with the notes pencilled in the margin. The soft handwriting reflected a thoughtful soul and insightful mind. In the front of the book, he discovered the previous owner’s name, Miss Hollis Maynell.

With time and effort, he located her address. She now lived in NY City. He wrote her a letter introducing himself and inviting her to corres…

Paritrana -- party with a difference

I was reading about Paritrana, the political party formed by IITians. There has been quite a bit of of media coverage. No wonder a great initiative. But I don't know how successful they will be in overcoming the inertia the present present in India has gained.

While I write this, the debate on the confidence motion -- that the new chief minister of Karnataka H D Kumaraswamy has sought -- is going on in the Assembly. This debate is a good example of what need not be debated. Sadly our politics is largely, if not fully, made up of such debates. No doubt democracy is also about debating, but definitely not at the cost of action. And, debate important issues that matter to the society and its people.

What Paritrana can definitely achieve is bring about more awareness about the need for a change. There is nothing wrong with our politics; what's wrong is the way politics is managed and conducted. Let's wish Paritrana the best.

Politics and development

Off all that the new chief minister of Karnataka H D Kumaraswamy said after being sworn in yesterday, the one I liked the best was his declaration that he won't announce any (development) packages but take up problems on priority basis. The stress on development sounds good and looks like a contribution of the BJP partner.

I just can't understand, why in India development is still a very political subject. The need to have good roads, clean water, good shelter, uninterrupted power supply etc should hardly have anything to with which party is in power. These are basic needs that have got to do with the living standards of people, and they must be apolitical.

What parties can fight over are finer issues like whether working hours should be from 9 to 4 or 10 to 5, interst rates, whether retirement age should be 55 or 60, whether fuel price should be increased by Rs 2 or 4, whether marriage age should be reduced to 18 for guys, whether India should vote with US or against US etc etc

Time and watch

RR was showing off his newly acquired, expensive, imported, gold-plated watch costing something like Rs 18,000. JJ, standing beside, asked him, "What's the time?"RR: "10.30"JJ, turning to me, looked at his watch and said: "It's 10.30, by my watch too!"I looked at JJ's watch. A simple, elegant, beautiful one.Later I asked him, "How much did you pay for this."JJ said, "Rs 750. I have been wearing it for the last six years. The strap is a new one, though. I got it last week for Rs 75."He then added with a wink: "Irrespective the of the cost, all watches, if set right, and maintained well, show the same time!"