Posts

Showing posts from March, 2007

SC stay on OBC quota in IITs, IIMs

Today's Supreme Court stay on the government's order providing for 27% reservation for Other Backward Class people in higher education institutions like IITs and IIMs was striking for one reason: its observation that the census of 1931 can't be the determinant for identifying the OBCs. While upholding the reservation policy, the court directed the government to get the current figures.

It's amazing that all through the debate we had in the recent past, this crucial point never came up. The government hasn't done a proper survey of the OBCs; and it has been relying on data that is over 70 years old!

Once again, let it be noted that no one is -- definitely I am not -- against reservation for the disadvantaged people. Positive discrimination has a huge role in societal development. The contentious point here is the method being adopted by the government to identify who should be get reservation, what parameters adopted to determine the beneficiaries. The approach is ske…

Yahoo to remove limit on storage

Image
This could be a path-breaking development. The New York Times is quoting a Reuters story that Yahoo plans to offer unlimited e-mail storage to its customers from May. Two reasons behind this move: one, explosive growth in the size of attachments, and two, storage costs are dropping. Read more here.

User-generated journalism

The Changing Media Summit has been examining the future of journalism in the wake of new technology that's increasingly redefining mass communication. Newspapers, radio, television, mobile phones, internet: all are in the midst of tech-triggered changes.

Guardian editor Alan Rusbridger spoke of the possibility of newspapers allowing lot more of user-generated content. He said: "We are grappling with this balance of what goes on to the website and what goes in the paper. A great part of that web [content] will be generated by users in time."

But he was quick to clarify that this will only be a complimentary role. "The role of journalists in this multi-media age has not changed and that user-generated content will only be a compliment to their work." (Source: Press Gazette)

Whither Indian cricket?

Image
Looking back, when we wanted India to win against Sri Lanka yesterday in the World Cup cricket, we were hoping against hope; that it would be India's day. But, it wasn't.

It isn't the defeat in that particular match; it's about how we lost: an expose of total ineptitude. India didn't have a clue to Lankans' guile. It was all there in the body language. Sri Lankan players exhibited confidence and determination. In contrast, Indians were clearly struggling from the word go. Our batsmen were pinned down; the only two who showed some resistence were Virender Sehwag and Rahul Dravid. It wasn't that our team lost after putting up a good fight. It was just meek surrender.

We need to realise at least now that ours is a middle-level team capable of winning once in a while when conditions suit us. We had hyped up enormously the prospects of an overrated team. Strangely, our excitement is all before the match; while normally, it should be after a victory. Somewhere some…

Water scarcity: what you and I can do

Just imagine a day without water! Give a thought to it at least today -- the World Water Day.

The idea to devote a day in a calendar year to this most basic necessity for human existence grew out the United Nations Conference on Environment and Development held in Rio de Janeiro in 1992.

Millions of people have just no access to water, clean or unclean. And those who have some access have no way of getting clean water. And on another level, water -- from small amounts right within our houses to large amounts from swollen rivers -- is wasted.

Yet, availability of water continues to be taken for granted by all of us at all levels from the governmental to individual. We have still not woken up to the fact that there is only a finite amount of water on Earth but our consumption is growing. The interesting point, however, is that on the whole there is enough water for all of us! What needs to be done is regulate the available water in such a way that there is minimum wastage and water is equi…

Blog posting in Malayalam script

I have been thinking for quite a while on blogging in Malayalam using the transliteration device. My desire intensified the moment I saw and enabled the Hindi transliteration option on blogger. That means.... हिंदी मे अभी लिख सकते है ... I can now write in Hindi.

I Googled... and thanks to technology, all I took was one hour for moving from the "I know nothing about this" stage to "I am able to type in Malayalam font on my blog" stage. പ്രദീപ്, that's my name typed in Malayalam. Wow!

This is how I did it: I came to this site, went to Section 3.1 in the contents (Using Mozhi Keyman to type Malayalam directly), and followed the instructions there to download Keyman and use it. You can visit this site too for lots of info.

Wow! that's some achievement for me! ഇതു ഇത്ര എലുപ്പമാനെന്നൂ എനിക്കരിയില്ലയിരുന്നു. I mean, I didn't know it was this easy.

Of course, there are small font issues to be ironed out like some letters don't transliterate in the way it shoul…

Stray cats enter home, attack women, boy

This didn't happen in Bangalore. Nevertheless, it will be of interest to Bangaloreans, particularly animal lovers.

Two stray cats attacked three people after they got into a house in North Platte, Nebraska, in the US, says an AP report quoted in Boston Globe. "Both cats were shot, tranquilized and taken to the animal shelter, where they were euthanized. The bodies were sent... for rabies checks... Authorities want to find out who owned the cats. Under city ordinance, cats may run free if they don't become nuisances...." the report says.

Bob, you served cricket well

Image
Yesterday being my weekly offday, I hit the bed early, around 11 pm, with the transistor radio. The two world cup matches were going on predictable lines and slowly sleep took over; until I was woken up by an SMS beep at midnight. It was a news alert from Cricketnext.com. "Pakistan coach Bob Woolmer passes away in Jamaica." I couldn't believe it. That really woke me up. I switched on the TV and the Breaking News was all over the channels. (Photo credit: Cricketnext.com)
Only the day before he was addressing the media and taking the defeat at the hands of Ireland in his stride saying such things happen. And then, he is no more. Such is the life we lead.
Though Bob Woolmer was reputed to be a great coach with Warwickshire and South Africa, it wasn't a pleasant experience with Pakistan. The sort of attacks he was subjected to was probably never warranted. But the professional coach that he was, he must have adjusted to them.
We still don't know the events leading up to…

Cricketers cracking under pressure

Image
In 2004, we got to know a term called 'tsunami'. Yesterday, a lot of us kept hearing the term 'minnows'.

The defeat of Pakistan and India in the Caribbean World Cup yesterday by Ireland and Bangladesh was nothing short of a complete shock. Worse, Pakistan is out of the competition just four days after the 40-day tournament began. The Pak team has been in a mess for some time. But never one imagined they would plummet to this extent, beaten by Ireland.
Skipper Rahul Dravid kept saying after the match, "We should have batted better." Wasn't that obvious? He should have told us why the team couldn't bat better.
There are no cricketing reasons for India's defeat. There's too much hype around, not cricket, but cricketers, leading to extreme psychological pressure on the team members. It may be worthwhile recalling what Rahul said before leaving India: "The World Cup is a big event. I do not think that you base your career and everything on the fa…

Lincoln-Kennedy coincidences

I am very sceptical about forwarded emails. It's very difficult to know whether some of the photos that are forwarded are original or morphed. And there is no way of knowing whether some of the amazing facts contained in these forwards are true or not. Basically they lack authentic source or credit.

Today I got a forward about the mysterious coincidences between Abraham Lincoln and John F Kennedy. I remember reading about this some years back in an article about the world's unexplained mysteries.

Instead of re-forwarding it, I am putting it up here, after doing some research myself. The person who started this chain mail, obviously has lifted it straight from this website, which in turn seems to have been lifted from here or some other similar one. There are plenty of websites on the amazing Lincoln-Kennedy similarity.

Here is the amazing string of coincidences...

Abraham Lincoln was elected to Congress in 1846.
John F. Kennedy was elected to Congress in 1946.

Abraham Lincoln was el…

India's infrastructure woes

Business Week has an excellent story on India's infrastructure. Much of the country's ills can be traced to lack of infrastructure; even Bangalore's dog menance. We have progressed in so many fronts. The purchasing power of individuals has increased, but look the place all of us live.

It's worth reading this article. Extracts:

... This economic boom is being built on the shakiest of foundations. Highways, modern bridges, world-class airports, reliable power, and clean water are in desperately short supply. And what's already there is literally crumbling under the weight of progress....

... The infrastructure deficit is so critical that it could prevent India from achieving the prosperity that finally seems to be within its grasp...

... India today is about where China was a decade ago...

... (Prime Minister Manmohan) Singh, in fact, is promising a Marshall Plan-scale effort...

... Envisioning a brand-new India is the easy part; paying for it is another matter... Country&…

Ho Chi Minh City's last public letter writer

Fountain pen in hand, Duong Van Ngo sits near the post office in Ho Chi Minh City waiting for his next job. He is the last public letter writer of Saigon.

A polyglot, he bridges different worlds -- connecting people across the planet with his fountain pen. His profession may be dying, but in his 60 years on the job, he has created many marriages ..... -- More in Spiegel magazine

Bangalore is also about stray dogs

Economic boom and stray dog menace: Bangalore's perfect showpiece of antithesis.

The paradox is too striking. It's amazing that after so much of debate, we still haven't found a humane method of ridding Bangalore's streets of dogs. How easily the issue has shifted from the "stray dog menace" to the "killing of innocent dogs". Not surprising -- this issue, like many others, is handled in a reactionary rather than a constructive manner. It's definitely not that there aren't solutions.

I like dogs. I also have had an unforgettable, terrifying midnight encounter with stray dogs, with one of them biting me. And, I have to very often avoid stray dogs.

(I know I am not among the lucky people.)

Like at 11 in the morning, when I walk to the nearby department store or to the vegetable shop, I have to walk carefully in order to avoid provoking dogs. And, being bitten a second time.

Easy to lament, but tough to see reason. So, I look around and I find that…

Should we pay money to beggars?

How much ever be the progress we have achieved, we still have beggars in the world; on M G Road and Brigade Road of Bangalore too. They present a pathetic sight. They have to, by definition, don't they? For, tugging at the hearts and emotions is their aim.

All of us, at some time or other, have asked ourselves this question: should I give this beggar a coin? Different people react in different ways for different reasons.

I am sure none of us want the beggar to hang around for far too long and would like him/her to be dismissed as quickly as possible. For that, some people -- with the sole purpose of getting rid of the problem -- either quickly dig into their purse and hand over a coin, or just put up a stony indifference.

There are some others who are sympathetic; feel they can't be helpless, put in whatever little they can, and hand over a coin to the beggar. They also think this is one small way of helping out the needy.

There are also people who are determined just not to obl…

Betting on tomorrow's news

I didn't know such a thing existed.

There is this unusual online practice of gambling fake money on future news events. According to USC Annenberg graduate student Daryl Paranada, in this article in the Online Journalism Review, website users can compete with one another by making predictions about future events.

"Predicting future events has always been uncertain, but prediction market websites like NewsFutures.com have made betting on the news a viable -- and often fun -- activity for Web users."

Not quite surprising, given the uncertainty of news events.

Reporters told to write shorter stories

One of the ways journalism has changed is in the length of stories. Newspapers and magazines now a days carry shorter articles and news reports. There are more of graphics, illustrations and photos. One reason is that people have lesser time today to go through long-winded articles, two, the printable area of newspaper itself has shrunk.

The Editors' Weblog is reporting on how Washington Post has asked its reporters to write shorter articles. "Len Downie, executive edior of The Washington Post, has made it clear: writers will have to write shorter stories if they want to go on writing them. Downie’s memo is representative of a trend to trim and trim more. The memo also discusses the Post’s new policies for the structure of its content."

Washingtonian.com has the full text of the executive editor's memo.

And there is a comment on the above site welcoming the move. A good observation:

"This is good news, not bad news. Kudos to Downie. Based on the memo, I believe he&#…

Another child killed by dogs in Bangalore

A four-year-old boy, Manjunath, who was playing hide-and-seek with his friends, was chased, attacked and mauled to death by a pack of stray dogs in the BEML area of Bangalore on Wednesday evening. This is the second time in the recent past a child is succumbing to attack by stray dogs.

Like last time, the death of Manjunath too will unleash fierce arguments. Like last time, the government will try to remove the stray dogs from the streets, but animal rights groups will oppose that. The government will, in all probability give up, and it’ll be status quo.

It’s a shame that Bangalore’s administration hasn’t been able to effectively rid the city of stray dogs. I don’t think there is any major global city where small children and two-wheel riders in the night live in danger of being bitten and killed by dogs.

I love animals. I had at one time 12 cats, spanning three generations, in my house. Till very recently, till we moved into an apartment, we had four cats in our house. Once we also adop…