Monday, September 28, 2009

The return of Pandits and other Migrants to J & K

Some 2 years back I read a thread - in one social network- written by a J & K migrant. Its heading was something like "Refugees in own country". It explains the life of him and people like him -who are forced to move out of J & K due to insurgency in the 90's and later. In that forum many readers expressed their concern for Kashmiri migrants. But they are common people not from the south block.

The story continued and replicated in various parts of the world. People are forcibly moved out of their land in many parts of Asia and Africa. Wars only increased their problems. Governments gave many names to them - Migrants, internally displaced people etc. Still many people are waiting for emigration clearances in the gates of many developed countries.

Just imagine the situation - people are not being able to spend the life in their own land. All of a sudden a child find that the ground - which he used to play is no longer belong to him. Why play ground only? The home where his/her family lived for decades is no longer livable for them. They have to move out in order to save their life - to keep their heart beating.

People who are lucky moved out successfully; others killed.

But now after almost two decades since beginning of insurgency in Kashmir some of them will be able to move back to their home land. According to reports nearly 1,600 families are agreed to return to their home land.

According to DNA report,
"A total of 34,878 families are registered as migrants in Jammu and 21,684 families are registered outside J&K. Around 2,500 Muslim and 1,600 Sikh families are also registered as migrants in Jammu. Nearly 15,045 families are being paid the relief, comprising Rs4,000 per family and 9kg ration per person"
The return of migrants is happening for the first time after the violence started in 90's. Hope that they will find it comfortable in their own land and will not be forced again to move out. This may give some hope to others who are still living the miserable life in the tents due to terrorism and wars.


Registration of Pandits willing to return begins in J-K
J-K budget :15,000 jobs to make Kashmiri Pandits return home
Why drag J-K Pandits to the ghettos?

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Is Democracy costly or people make it costly? Election and Farmers

"Nearly 200 millions live on less than one dollar a day and nearly 500 millions do not have access to modern sources of energy," he said. "Our overriding priority, therefore, has to be eradication of poverty for which we must address our energy poverty and use all sources of energy, including fossil fuels," he added. TOI
The 'He' mentioned here is our External Affair minister S.M Krishna. He said this at a conference on climate change in Copenhagen. It is very good to hear that 'eradication' of poverty is still on the high priority list of Government.

Lets come back to Maharashatra from Copanhagen, a state in Indian Union, where now election festival is going on. Maharashtra - One of India's most industrialized state and the capital of Maharashtra - Mumbai - 3rd or forth biggest city in the world by population is also considered as the financial hub of India.

Vidarbha which is infamous for suicide of farmers also in the same state. According to reports [I don't have the recent data],
"There are no authentic figures on the exact number of farm suicides in Vidarbha, but the Maharashtra government accepts a figure of 1920 from January 1, 2001 to August 19, 2006. The Vidarbha Jan Andolan Samiti (VJAS), a farmers' movement, puts the toll at 782 from June 1, 2005 to August 26, 2006. And, in the last three months, there has been a suicide every eight hours." DNA
In another part of country[according to the report from Yahoo News] people already started to sell their daughters and wife to repay the debt[see the below link]. Who can imagine the situation of people who are forced to sell their beloved ones to others. The things they are selling is not potato or rice but human beings with flesh and blood. The people who want to live freely, who have beautiful dreams about the future; and in one moment everything is shattered. Just like a fly approaching the fire.

Drought-hit Indian farmers sell wives to pay debts

They just become commodities in the hands of others. They are no longer measured by the yard stick of humanity, but by the totally unacceptable yardstick of slavery. Thanks to our policies, people are actually doing so - selling and buying are no longer limited to commodities like rice, potato, steel etc. And anyone can at least imagine the plight of these people who are being sold to others. Will any Lincoln come to power to end this?

One suicide every 8 hours
15,725 : West Bengal tops suicide list in India
Has Bollywood shut its eyes to movies on farmers?
Drought, debt drive Indian farmers to suicide
1,500 farmers commit mass suicide in India
20 farmers commit suicide in southern India after lack of rain

Authorities can blame anything from lack of rain to agricultural subsidies by western governments. But in the end of the day people who are suffering have nothing to do with the agricultural policies, they are not participated in the process of formulating policies which may revolutionize their life - to the best or to the worst.

Long time ago we heared a successful motto, i think it was coined by our second prime minister - Lal Bahadur Shastri - 'Jai Javan, Jai Kisan'. But the so called modern India failed to satisfy both. Army is facing shortage in the officer's ranks. Reason - Salary is not attractive compared to private sector companies. Kisans (Farmers) situation is turning from bad to worse to worst.

In the middle of all these problems new election came in Maharashtra. According to Indian democratic system government have to 'face' people in very 5 years(if the cabinet didn't survived 5 years duration will become shorter). Both government and candidates have to spend money to fulfill the process of electing a new government - Campaign costs. Election commission of India put a cap on this expenditure - 10 Lack/candidate/constituency.

Campaign costs may cross Rs1,000 crore

Don't open your mouths in wonder - now a days democracy is costly. If you think that it will not be possible for a common person to spend this much money and the cap should be much lower. you are totally wrong according to the eyes of politicians. Lets look what they have to say,
"The election commission ceiling of Rs10 lakh per candidate per constituency is not practical." He, however, admitted that "honest people are sidelined" as money power plays a significant role in politics. DNA
'Honest people are sidelined' - is this the meaning of democracy?

Each candidate is expected to spend 1 crore for election campaigns. Assume that a middle class person have a salary of 5000Rs/ month. How many years it will take to reach 1 crore, even if he didn't spend anything? Even if a person get 12lack package a year it will took 10 years to reach 1 crore- Assuming his expenses is 2lack/month. Can you explain to me how he can compete successfully in this situation?

Not only this,
"NCP's campaign manager Prakash Bhinsale said the party has to hire at least two helicopters to help party leaders, including Sharad Pawar, campaign across the state. "Only then can he manage five to six rallies a day," he said.

The BJP and the Congress have also booked two helicopters each for the entire campaign period. The hourly tariff for a helicopter is between Rs60,000 and Rs75,000." DNA
Of course this money will not be raised entirely from public. Industrial houses have to support the move to raise these astronomical amounts, but in response they will expect something -After all they are investing money, and they have the right to expect. But is there any right for farmers to expect something?


[PS: In order to overcome the time hurdles helicopter become necessary, it will also help the campaigners to cover the places quickly. But why don't we have bullet trains and other cheap but fast transit systems? Just like the campaigners face difficulties to cover this distances quickly, people too is facing this situation in their day-to-day life.]

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Food, Guns and Drought - Humanitarian crisis in Eastern Africa

Which one is important for humans? food or guns? Before answering think twice. Because for many people guns holds far better value than food.The people who are fighting against the establishment for the so called 'Liberation' of people are doing probably much more than that of UN or any aid programs to check the population growth. It is widely reported that they are very good in farming.

The only difference is that they control the population growth using graneds, rocket launchers and machine guns and cultivate narcotic plants like Poppy etc.

Africa, the home of humanity - now is on the virtue of starvation. People may not be much interested because its a usual news, and feel like any other news. After all who is interested in hearing about starvation when they have enough to eat and the time is not enough to see the latest fashion parades.

Now a days the number of kidnaps, rapes, killings, explosions are so high that people stopped to give attention to these things. It will be a surprise to us when we didn't saw a report of rape or bomb blast in the first page of newspaper.

Right now lack of rain, ElNino climate effect are forcing more and more Africans to lead a life of starvation. Instead of rice and other food grains starvation and death are roaming around the fields.

According to the recent report of UN's Food and Agriculture Organization,

"Nearly 20 million people currently depend on food assistance in the region, and this number may increase as the hunger season progresses, particularly among marginal farmers, pastoralists and low-income urban dwellers.

The effects of El NiƱo, which usually brings heavy rains towards the end of the year, could make matters worse, resulting in floods and mudslides, destroying crops both in the field and in stores, increasing livestock losses and damaging infrastructure and housing.Across Eastern Africa prices of maize, a major staple, have shown a declining trend since the beginning of the year, but remain higher than they were two years ago.

Forced migrations in search of water supplies and pasture have worsened livestock conditions, increased disease outbreaks and exacerbated resource-based conflicts among pastoralists."
Along with this the reproduction rate of live stocks have suffered due to the successive poor seasonal rains. The production first season crops(2009) is well below the average in Uganda. This is 4th successive poor harvest.More than one million or more people are estimated to be food insecure.

In Kenya, the Mazie crop which accounts for 80% of total production is about 28% below the normal levels. In Ethiopia 'belg' season is also well below the average. The losses are a staggering 75% in hardest hit areas.Due to this number of people who need emergency assistance is a whopping 1.3mn-6.2mn. In Eritrea the 'Kremti' season prospects too are very low.

Somalia is facing the worst humanitarian crisis in the 18 years. Approximately half of the population- 3.6 mn people - needs emergency assistance. Here the problem is not only due to drought but also due to escalating fighting and conflict.

In may places guns are becoming more important than that of food, but remember you can only fire a bullet with a but will not be able to eat it.


Friday, September 18, 2009

After Tigers of Sariska, now its the turn of Rhinos at Kaziranga

[Indian Rhino]

Some time back we heared a news - There is not any tigers in Sariska Tiger Reserve. It was unbelievable; after many years of the prestigious 'tiger reserve program' all we achieved in Sariska was a Tiger Reserve without any tigers!!!

Obviously Tigers are not in any foreign tour neither they are all dead by natural reasons. If the national animal doesn't have any protection in a 'supposedly highly sensitive tiger reserve' then anyone can imagine about the future of other endangered animals.

Sariska's story- after the above mentioned shocking news- goes on in this way. After sawing that there is no Tigers left in the reserve, authorities moved one male tiger and two female tigress from Ranthambore National park to Sariska. But the problem about this relocation is the way they selected the tigers.

Before relocating they didnt followed IUCN conventions. Neither they performed any DNA tests nor any territorial analysis. So it is posible that they all come come from same family. If its so then this will leads to 'inbreeding' and will be a disaster in long term, moreover it will add more strain on the small population of tigers in Ranthambore reserve. Above all what is the guarantee about these newly deployed tiger's security in Saraiska?

As long as there is tigers in other reserves they can relocate but aftr that?

Now this is the fate of our national animal - Tiger. Lets go to the north-east - the famous Rhinos of Kaziranga. As days are passing people are inventing more and more ways to kill animals. After guns now they use poisons to kill Rhinos. The danger is that poisons not only kill the Rhinos, but the tigers -who may consume these Rhinos, deers and other animals too. According to a report on TOI
"Although forensic test reports were yet to come, we suspect the cattle died after grazing on poisoned grass -- some toxic chemicals laced with salt might have been sprinkled on a patch of grassland," Kaziranga park director S.N. Buragohain told IANS.
According to the last census there are about 2048 Rhinos in Kaziranga out of a mere 3000 in the entire world. Like most of the other endangered species these Rhinos too is being killed for their body parts. In Rhino's case people want their horn.

As of now 2048 may be a large number but there is all the possibility for the repetition of Sariska's history. Soon there will be tigers and tiger reserves on the papers only, and other endangered animals future too may not be different. Soon all the forests will be wiped out the so called industrialization.

We have powerful laws in paper, we may add more and more sanctions to it - on the paper only. Until and unless they are not enforcing there is no use of it. First of all give good weapons to the forest guards and also give them the authority to use it. What is the use of long stick and torch in front of guns? Otherwise we will have tiger reserves without tigers, bird sanctuaries without birds, forest reserves without trees. Future of wildlife is not so dark but people are doing everything they can do make it darkest.


Father of green revolution Norman Borlaug died

[Norman Borlaug]
"Some credit him with saving more human lives than any other person in history."
These are the words of Bruce Alberts, former President, National Academy of Sciences, USA.

The 'him' he mentioned here is Norman Borlaug who is considered as the father o green revolution. He was one of the only 5 people who won Nobel Prize, Presidential medal of Freedom, Congressional gold Medel. He also won Padma Vibhuhan, the second highest civilian medal in India. According to the report from Times,
"Many experts say that he averted a widely predicted global famine in the second
half of the 20th century and saved up to a billion lives."
He helped Mexico, which imported much of her required food to became self sufficient. Later accepting the request from M.S Swaminathan, then adviser to the agricultural minister, Government of India, he along with Dr. Robert Glenn Anderson came to India and averted an expected famine. The program helped India to become self-sufficient in food production and resulted in what later known as 'The Green Revolution'.

Famines of India are most notorious. In the 'Unseen world and other essays' John Fiske writes about Bengal Famine of 1770 in which 10mn people died as,
"Throughout the entire course of recorded European history, from the remote times of which the Homeric poems preserve the dim tradition down to the present moment, there has occurred no calamity at once so sudden and of such appalling magnitude as the famine which in the spring and summer of 1770 nearly exterminated the ancient civilization of Bengal. It presents that aspect of preternatural vastness which characterizes the continent of Asia and all that concerns it. The Black Death of the fourteenth century was, perhaps, the most fearful visitation which has ever afflicted the Western world. But in the concentrated misery which it occasioned the Bengal famine surpassed it, even as the Himalayas dwarf by comparison the highest peaks of Switzerland. It is, moreover, the key to the history of Bengal during the next forty years"
To see the list of famines- Famines.

Not only in India, in Pakistan, Mexico many Latin American countries, middle east and African countries followed the suit. Borlaug's colleagues developed many rice verities, which later saved millions of life from starvation. From 1950-84 - at the time of Green Revolution food producion increased by a whopping 250%.

Its easy to speech about hungry, easy to write an essay of hundred's of pages but to experience its entirely different. The difference was experienced by millions of people in the history of humanity and shed their life due to starvation. Its from this worst situation Borlaug saved the people.


Nobel Acceptence speech of Norman Borlung
ASA Luctureship(2007 speech)

Thursday, September 17, 2009

Doing Business - World Bank Report 2009 and India

World Bank have some habits, like publishing different reports in every year. This year too they published many reports, and one of such project is "Doing Business : Reforming through Difficult Times". According to World Bank,
"Doing Business 2010: Reforming through Difficult Times recorded 287 reforms between June 2008 and May 2009, up 20 percent from the previous year. Reformers around the world focused on making it easier to start and operate businesses, strengthening property rights, and improving commercial dispute resolution and bankruptcy procedures.
Business regulation can affect how well small and midsize firms cope with the crisis and seize opportunities when recovery begins,” said Penelope Brook, Acting Vice President for Financial and Private Sector Development for the World Bank Group. “The quality of business regulation helps determine how easy it is to reorganize troubled firms to help them survive difficult times, to rebuild when demand rebounds, and to get new businesses started.”

Singapore, a consistent reformer, is the top-ranked economy on the ease of doing business for the fourth year in a row, with New Zealand as runner-up. But most of the action occurred in developing economies. Two-thirds of the reforms recorded in the report were in low- and lower-middle-income economies. For the first time a Sub-Saharan African economy, Rwanda, is the world’s top reformer of business regulation, making it easier to start businesses, register property, protect investors, trade across borders, and access credit."

Let us check India's rankings, remember that the total number of countries studied is 183.

Ease of
Doing Business : Rank 133(132)
Starting a business : Rank 169(166)
Dealing with construction permit : Rank 175(173)
Employing workers : Rank 104(102)
registering property : Rank 93(92)
Getting Credit : Rank 30(27)
Protecting Investors : Rank 41(38)
Paying Taxes : Rank 169(171)
Trading across borders : Rank 94(97)
Enforcing Contracts : Rank 182(182)
Closing a business : Rank 138(142)

Rank: 2010 rank(2009 Rank)

One of the intersting thing to notice is that we ranked 27 in getting credit, but 169 in starting a business. What it means? even if we have credit its difficult to start a business? In employing workers it is 102. How this figure become so high? In India which is so famous for cheap labour and talent pool is it difficult to employee them? About paying taxes the less say the better. In 'doing business rankings' Pakistan's rank is 85 China comes in 89.

For starting a busines in India we have to follow 13 procedures, in South Asia it is 7.3 and OECD average is 5.7, the time taken for this process is 30 days in India where as the OECD average is just 13 days.

To build a warehouse there are 37 procedures to follow in India whereas it is 15.1 in OECD countries. Time taken is 195 in India and 157 in OECD countries.

The total tax rate as percentage of profit is a mindblowing 64.7% in India but its only 44.5% in OECD countries. Time taken for payment of various taxes is 271 hours in India; but its only 194.1 in OECD countries. As we are going fast on ecommerce segmant this may soon drop sharply.

Another interesting thing is that the Rigidity of hiring Index in India is 0, where us it is 26.5% in OECD countries!!!

Cost of Import and export in india is low compared to OECD counries but the required documets and time are high.

The number of procedures for enfocing the contract is 46 this results in 1420 days and a cost of 39.6% of the claim. Whereas in OECD countries it is 30, 462.4 and 19.2% only.

What we have to learn from this report? Primary thing to learn is to reduce the number of procedures, why so many procedures? If OECD countries can go on with less number of procedures, why cant we? This high number of procedures results in delay and huge costs. Another thing is that we have to reduce the tax rate but at the same time make it sure that companies are paying the taxes.

In the case of dealing with construction permits, government have to completly rewrite the policy. Also reducing the minimum capital required to start the business is necessary for the entry of many new entrepreneurs.


[OECD: Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Developmnt - International group of 30 high incom countries which accepts th principle of representative democracy and free market economy]

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

What is marketing?

Whenever a new product launches, it will be followed by a lot of ads in TV, news papers etc. Now a days People doesn't watch a channel continuously for more than some 15-20 mins. Reson - in every 10-15 mins there will be a break and it will last so long that he may even forget the story of the movie/seriels.

If we are watching a super hit movie then, it will be difficult to find out whether ads are comming in between the movie or movie is showing in between ads.

Famous people will come in these ads and will ask us to buy the so and so products which have 'n' number of qualities. But viewers are very good in managing these breaks, they will use their remote - which is not remote fom their hands - to change the channels. The people who have the authority over remote control have special powers. They will change the channels according to their wishes. Many may want to change to some fassion channels - but neither will ask it openly nor they do it so. Ultimately we will saw many movies and love stories but often will be under confusion about the story itself after some 2-3 breaks.

Cricket is another thing, it dosn't offer much time for break. Break may be as short as the wicket keeper reaching the opposite end of the pitch. If he run to the opposite end? It will surely results in high blood pressure to the tv crew.

Situations like this often leads to show 4 balls in the over - rest 2 balls will be taken away by ads. If its the last overs then the celebrity will not get enough time to drink the newly launched mineral water; Or somone will not get enough time to finish the bath after using the new soap or action hearos may catch the mineral water bottle after a long jump from mountain(ofcouse they cant die), but may not be able to drink it. The next over may already started, fans will not allow to cut the last overs in a game.

Recently i saw these lines in a magazine. It says somthing like this. Marketting is a method which will create problems in consumers mind, about whose existence they may not even know!!! and the product will solve their problem!!!

And the winner of the game will be the one who was able to create more problems and offer all the solutions!!!


Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Its raining again, but...

Do you like rains? Do you like seeing the rain for a long time? Do you like to walk through heavy rain? Do you like to stand in open space during rain? If anyone ask me these questions my answers will be yes, yes, yes I like.

I like rain - and of course the entire monsoon. In my home state- Kerala- usually rain will come in the first week of June. Precisely at the same time schools will open after 2 months of summer vacation. (In that days 2 month summer vacation means the whole 60 days - except for 10th standard, after 9th standard the vacation is for 30 days only). In that days no one even imagined about tuition classes at the time of summer vacation.

But when the classes opens for the new standard, rain too will come. Morning will be cool and shiny. But just before we leave the school - in that days school time was from 10.00-4.00pm - rain will come with all her power accompanied by strong thunder and lightning. And it will be continued for next 2-4 hours. After a break it will again come in the night.

After my 4th class I joined in another school some 2-3kms away. And we have to cross some 1 km wide paddy field. Its length was some 10 or more kms. After raining the fields will full of water and the borders will be wiped out due to the force of water. So we have to make a long jumps, some 4-5 times, if we don't want to be drenched. And in the morning - before reaching the school no one want be drenched in the rain. But in the afternoon when we come back we have no problem.

Now a days, i don't think any student us that way to go our previous school. Now all most all schools have their own buses. When i reached High school- again another school- there was some 12 buses. As the paddy no longer remains highly profitable farmers changed their crop to Banana and many transformed paddy fields to coconut fields. Recently when i went through that way - some 1 year back- it was almost empty.

In that days we played cricket in the middle of rains. Today here in Bangalore approximately 400kms away from home, rains looks like the ghost of the past. Its coming and going, lasts only for a small interval of time and have to wait for a long time to see again. Here in Electronic City water tankers are moving through the road all the time.

We have to pay for water. And the news of drought are coming from many part of the country. Now a days the pattern of monsoon changed drastically. Either there will be floods or there will be drought.

Will the monsoon again become monsoon of the past so that i can walk though the rain once again?


PS: After I post this blog i started walking to my room. Some 22 minutes from here, rains came back and lasted until i reach there. It was a very good experience to walk though that rain . . . and now waiting or the next one...

My dilemma with Macaroni corn

I often felt that on most of the hotels, menu for vegetarians are not so diverse. Most of the time it will be limited to some 4-5 items. If its the time for lunch then menu will contain 'n' number of items made out of Chicken. But for vegetarian like me it will very difficult to find out which one contains egg and chicken and which one not.

Often what happen is that at the time of lunch, there will be two type of curries. one sambar and another on will be some fish curry. If you forget to tell in advance that you want- sambar only- then many will give you fish curry too. Many times i got fish curry and had to replace the full meal.

Now a days back in my home town - in Kerala - many people prefer non veg for marriage parties and other parties. In these functions there will be a large section for non-veg and a small section for vegetarians. Anyway I like to continue with vegetarianism.

Recently I went to a hotel in Bangalore. There was a new item in the menu, called Health combo (available with and without soup, if you go for without soup then you will get salads only). Who don't want to protect health, the number of diseases now days is so terrifying and on top of it new diseases are coming. Scientists stopped naming it with words only; now a days they use a combination of alphabets and numbers!!! So i went for Health meal, as i don't like soups i went or salads only.

Self serving (simply means i can take different salads i like, but the catch here is that it should not exceed one bowl - As the hotel and place changes conditions will be different), there ware some 8-10 items, and a small bowl of fruits - watermelon, papaya etc. As like anyone else i too want value or money!!!

But there was an interesting item. Numerous pieces of small white half circled thing. In the race for getting the maximum i didn't looked into this new member. But just before start eating the fundamental question of a vegetarian raised again. This new one is veg or non veg? The half circled item was looking good, and i took many of it, now if it turns non-veg?

Anyway i asked to the person who was standing there to serve the meals. For my goodness he said that all are veg only. I asked him what is the name these pieces. He said something, i heared something!!! Anyway i completed my lunch with this health meal.

But what was that small white pieces? it was interesting and tastes differently, whatever be the name i like it. Before leaving i asked for the name once again. He repeated it twice and now i got it. Its name is Macaroni corn. This is a kind of moderately-extended dry pasta.

Is there any other interesting veg items like this? please let me know.


Monday, September 14, 2009

Train connecting South Asia: A new Orient Express?

The recent news in Indo-Pak relation is the possibility of opening a South Asian Regional train service between India, Pakistan and Bangladesh. According to the report from Dawn,
"The Ministry of Railways has technically approved an Indian proposal to launch a South Asian regional train service between Bangladesh, India and Pakistan and the proposal has been forwarded to the ministry of foreign affairs and the commerce ministry for further evaluation.The proposal had been floated by the Indian railways two weeks ago, officials said."
During the time of Maurya empire most of the overland trade to the cities of west asia went through the cities of North west; primarily through Taxila. So Mauryans built highway from Taxila to Pataliputra (Present day Patna). In 16th century a major road(Sadak-e-Azam) was again built afresh by Sher Sha Suri through Gangatic plane.

The road primarily built by Sher Sha Suri connecting Agra and Sasaram later extended to Multan to the west and Sonargaon to the east (now in Bangladesh). This road ensured Suri's legacy. Later Mugals extended it and in one time it reached as far as Kabul. Later British improved the road connecting Peshwar to Culcatta. This is the same road which was once used by Netaji to escape from British authorities house arrest.

In his novel 'Kim' Rudyard Kipling describs Grand Trunk road as
"Look! Brahmins and chumars, bankers and tinkers, barbers and bunnias, pilgrims -and potters - all the world going and coming. It is to me as a river from which I am withdrawn like a log after a flood.'

And truly the Grand Trunk Road is a wonderful spectacle. It runs straight, bearing without crowding India's traffic for fifteen hundred miles - such a river of life as nowhere else exists in the world."

Later Thar express, Samjhauta express established links between India and Pakistan, East Bengal mail, East Bengal Express, Barisal express(all dicontinued after 1965), Maitree Express between India and Bangladesh.

The newly proposed train service can be connected to the Pakistan-Iran-Turkey train services. Once extended it will lead to the direct access of India to middle east, Central Asian Republics and further to Europe.

On east side it can be extended to Myanmar and further link to ASEAN countries as well. This will be a boon for the land locked north-east states of India. These states will be able to access Kolkata much more easily and India will be able to access the port facilities of Bangladesh as well . Along with this Nepal and Bhutan too can be connected to this train link. On the other side China will also be able to connect to this train link.

If all the plans are gone well then this will become the commercial backbone connecting Europe and CAR(These countries are rich in natural resources and landlocked) to ASEAN countries passing right through the heart of India- Modern Silk route. This will boost bilateral trade as well as raise India's influence as a commercial power. Also the cultural exchanges and people to people cooperation may lead to solve tensions existing between these countris.

One thing that have to be ensured is the security. If security is ensured there is no doubt that this architecture will be a commercial success. This not only help India but also help Pakistan as well. Pakistan will also be able to access the market as far as ASEAN countries.


Sunday, September 13, 2009

Golden Duck and 3G

Let me tell you a story, Long long ago there was a duck which gave 1 golden egg each day to the owner. Days passed, each day the story repated and owner got one golden egg per day. But our owner was not satisfied- he want to become rich very fast. The speed of golden egg coming out of duck was too slow fo him. So he thought about other ways to increase the speed. Finally he decided to kill the duck and took all the eggs at once!!! He killed the duck and tore open the stomach. Alas!!! all he got was some small eggs!!!Now the duck gone , golden egg too.

I don't know whether the same story will be repeated with the Indian government. As the technology is advancing day by day; instruments too follow te suit and we start to call it in terms of generations. Like 4th generation fighter plance, 5th generation fighter plance etc.

The same case is applicable for mobile technologies too. 2nd gen, 3rd gen, 4th gen etc. And just like any other part in the world in India too Government allocates the spectrum to mobile service providers. And now almost in every week or month we are hearing about this 3G, 3G spctrum auctioning etc. But they postpone it too much. See the Reuters report

"The auction, which will introduce high-speed Internet and video downloads
on mobile phones, was originally planned for January 2009 but was delayed after
the finance ministry wanted the reserve price to be doubled. Last month, the
base price for pan-India 3G spectrum was revised by a ministerial panel to 35
billion rupees ($722 million) from 20.20 billion rupees."

And now it is decided that government will start the auctioning spectrum for private companies from Dec 7 onwards. Source : telecom department website. Will they start from Dec 7? most probably.

The problem here is that in search for more and more revenue from auction government may loose it at all. Look at the technological side, its always moving forward and its already entering in to 4G stage. Various companies like NTTDocomo are testing 4G. 4G technology is excellent it supports HDTV, Vedio chat, Mobile TV, wireless broadband, DVB etc. NTTDocomo achived a maximum ransfer of 5GB/s in the downlink using 100MHz freequency bandwidth while moving at a speed of 10km/hour.

Digiweb got a license from Irish tlecom tegulator. Verizon announced in sep 2007 about their plans to change its network to 4G standard LTE. In dec 2008 they announced their intend to rollout LTE network by the end of 2009. This is the same time India government decided to launch 3G auction. In Canada Telus and Bell Canada are looking for 4G rollout. Sprint aleady announced its 3G/4G connection plan for 79.99$. Caribbean telecom companies too are keen on investing 4G technology.

Now look at India's situation we already differed the date as far as possible. If we differed even further then there may not be any need for 3G auction. Government can directly go for 4G auction and this 35 bn rupes will go forever. On the other case suppose government succeed in getting this much money even then we are the losers.

Because this will delay the 4G rollout as companies can't invest huge sum of money again for 4G. Evenif they want they have to upgrade their infrastructure for 4G. Again investment neded. if they invested huge sums for 3G auction do you think will they do it again for 4G auction+ infrastructure so soon? So ultimately who is the loser? public only , because most probably the 4G auction will be delayed.

So please use the golden duck in a sustainable manner.


Thursday, September 10, 2009

The irony of Starvation

"When we leave the hotel and walk down the (urine-soaked) street, we get assaulted by auto-rickshaw drivers, by hawkers, by tour guides … and by tiny children pointing to their own mouths. This last one is rough—at least the first few dozen times. Sometimes these kids are part of a scam. They're forced to beg by adults who run panhandling teams. (We've read stories about teams that cut out kids' tongues, to make them seem more pitiable.) But sometimes these kids are just honestly looking for food. Because they're starving. They might eat out of that big garbage pile tonight. Once the dogs are done."
Recently I came across the above mentioned article. The place is neither in Venus or Mars nor in some distant part of the world. This is written by a foreign traveler who came to India for a brief period.

It is different when we talk about poverty and when people actually experiencing it. See the recent UN analysis:
"There are 1.02 billion undernourished people in the world today. That means one in nearly six people do not get enough food to be healthy and lead an active life. Hunger and malnutrition are in fact the number one risk to the health worldwide — greater than AIDS, malaria and tuberculosis combined."

"Each year, almost 11 million children die before reaching the age of five; malnutrition is associated with 53 percent of these deaths (source: Caulfield et al., The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition. 2004 July)"

"An estimated 146 million children in developing countries are underweight - the result of acute or chronic hunger (Source: The State of the World's Children, UNICEF, 2009). This means that 25 percent of all hungry people are children. All too often, child hunger is inherited: up to 17 million children are born underweight annually, the result of inadequate nutrition before and during pregnancy."

"Around 50 per cent of pregnant women in developing countries are iron deficient (source: Unicef). Lack of iron means 315 million women die annually from hemorrhage at childbirth."
Shocking isn't it? But it will be more shocking when we hear that even in the mid of this terrible poverty we are simply wasting lacks of tonnes of food.

Recently, in Taran Taran - a place in Punjab, 5300 tonnes of wheat valuee around 5 crore has rotten due to alleged negligence. What is more shocking is that now its unfit for consumption and auctioned for manufacturing fertilizers. 5300 tonnes of wheat is using for manufacturing fertilizers!!! According to TOI estimate it could feed a people of 30,000 for an entire year. And what this fertilizers will do? Producing more food to waste more?

Millions of people across India and the world didn't have enough to eat 3 times a day; why 3 times; even one time is very difficult and we are simply wasting this food. Reason - absence of warehouses. Yes, we have time for everything, each and everyday the reports of riots are coming in newspapers from some part or another. But we simply don't have time to build warehouses.

Result- Storing the food in open space, using tarpaulins and things like that and result is obvious. Government admitted that 0.62% of countries stock of wheat wasted during transit or due to poor storage in the first two months of this financial year. Don't go by the small percentage, the value is a mind blowing 2.2 lack tonnes of wastage!!! This is about wheat now what about Rice and other things?

Look at the situation of our warehouses. In Orrisa total capacity is 7 Lack tonnes for rice, state government's procurement target is 55 Lack tonnes. Difference = 48 Lack tonnes. where this 48 Lack tonne will go? In Bihar actual capacitiy is 12 Lack tonnes, needed capacity is 48 Lacks. Difference = 36 Lack tonnes. For details (This shows figures only upto 2005). FCI's capacity.

Cant we build some warehouses to store this precious food?


Please read this United Nations World food Program : Statistics

New dimensions in the relations with Bangladesh and Bhutan

Its very good to see that India and Bangladesh have some successful talks in border negotiations and water sharing treaties. In the middle of 'n' number of failed talks with China, and never ending problems in Kashmir border this may open new frontier and may be help to settle the border problems with other countries.

Indian and Bangladesh reached an agreement on mutual legal assistance on criminal matter and transfer of sentenced prisoners. Along with this negotiations are on for water sharing treaty on the beautiul 'Teesta river', use of Chitagong port by India and trade agreement. Both countries also agreed to discuss all boundary issues. Along with this India has agreed to provide 100MW electricity to Bangladesh.

[Teesta River]

Not only in Bangladesh, the 6th Bhutan-India meeting on border management and security also completed smoothly.

Will this incident have any impact on other border issues? like the one with Pakistan and China? I don't think so. I cant understand why Asian countries are still unable to solve their boundary problems. Look at North America and Europe all most all settled. Why cant we solve these problems even after 6 decades (after the independence), 'n' number of talks and many wars?

The only thing we can do is hope. Hope that at some point in future, India-Pakistan border problems may be solved, at some point in future India-China border problems will be solved. Who knows when, the only thing i can hope is that it will happen before this millennium(which just started) ends.


Tuesday, September 8, 2009

India and Nepal countries without checkposts in between; Please don't build one now

‘‘India shares historical bond with Nepal, in Kashi priests from Nepal perform
the pujas and in Pashupatinath it is the Indian priests. It is a tradition being
followed from centuries. So I think there should no problem between us,’’ Krishna
Krishna mentioned here is India's External Affairs minister S.M Krishna. Nepal's culture minister Minendra Kumar Rijal added that:
"It is an attempt to mar the age-old harmonious relations between India and
Nepal. We share the same culture, religion and tradition and Nepali priests
perform the puja at the Jagannath temple in Puri and other Indian temples."

India and Nepal's relation are centuries old. There are many things which make Nepal more close to India. Like the Nepali language is considered as close to Sanskrit and written in Devanagari script. The combined population of Nepal who speak Hindi dialects like Awadhi, Bhojpuri and Mithili is 22.3% of the entire population. Nepal is also highlighted on the Hindu puranas like 'Skanda Purana'; Skanda Purana has a separate volume known as 'Nepal Mahatmya'. It is also mentioned in Hindu scriptures like Narayana Puja' and 'Atharva Siras'.

In term of political history too Nepal and India are closely associated. By 250 BC Nepal Valley comes under 'Maurya Dynasty' and later under 'Guptha Dynasty'. By late 11th century Nepal come under the Chalukya Empire of South India. Even after post independence relations between India and Nepal were smooth.

In accordance with a long standing treaty Indian and Nepalese citizens may travel to each other countries without a passport or visa. It is also possible or the Nepalese citizen's to work in India without any legal restrictions. It is in this contest we have to think about the issues related to the 'Pashupatinath Temple' - which is considered as the world's biggest 'Shiva Temple'.

Priests from South India are performing pooja's here since the time of Malla king 'Yaksha Malla'. This tradition is supposed to have started by the request of 'Adi Sankaracharya' -On of the great sage in Hinduism. Another interpretation is that Indian priests are stationed at Pashupatinath Temple, because when the king passes away, the entire people of Nepal are supposed to stop the religious practices and enter a year of mourning. But as the Poojas performing in the temple can't be stopped this tradition was started.

Now protests are rising against Indian priests in Nepal. Some media headlines reveal this,

India slams attack on Indian priests in Pashupatinath
Shrine under siege: Indian priests beaten up, paraded naked at Nepal's Pashupatinath temple
Nepal govt wobbles as Maoists hijack Pashupatinath's sons' legacy
India fumes over assault on Indian priests in Nepal
Nepal 'regrets' attack on priests

Instead of protesting and accusing against each other, it better to find a solution soon. And avoid the temple as a place for political confrontations. Recently the relation between India and Nepal are going from bad to worse. Don't allow it to move towards the worst case. From historic time to this day we built a close relationship; from both sides not much attempt was made to break it over the past centuries. Even London recognised the importance of this relation and kept it strongly in the times of 'Raj'.

Every temple holds some type of traditions. Here back in my home state - Kerala, there are two temples close to my home- one Shiva Temple and one Devi temple. In both places pooja's are performed by Brahmins only. In the famous 'Guruvayoor Temple' and 'Shabarimala Temple' of Kerala the rights for performing pooja's are restricted to a number of Brahmin families. No one have any problem in that - In Kerala almost all famous temples are under Government control through 'Devaswam Boards'.

At the same time there are many temples where pooja's are performed by non-bramins only. In some cases the right for performing pooja's are restricted to women only. Still all that are maintained as it is. Because it’s the tradition, which is followed for many decades if not centuries. There are many temples in North India where poojas are performed by South Indian Brahmins. In the famous Badrinath temple which is located at far north of India, the head priest- Rawal- is traditionally a Namboothiri Brahmin from Kerala - located in the south edge of India. There are many examples like that and all these protocols are followed till this day.

I would like to visit Nepal sometime in the future and see all the beauty nature provided to this Heaven in Himalaya. Let’s keep this system intact, no passports no visas only friendship and brotherhood. Let Nepalese feel India as their brother, not just a neighbour. And Nepalese too have to keep the relationship alive, which may even form a model for European Union.


Monday, September 7, 2009

Lost Sundays

Usually people dislike mondays and like Fridays; why? Ofcourse no trophy for right answer. Saturdays and sundays are going too fast causing too much worry to mind!!! Is nt possible that sundays may extended to 29-30 hours? taking one hour each from monday to friday?

I Still remember the old days when I was in school. Just going to school and coming back in the evening. Then running to the ground for playing cricket. We played as long as our small rubber ball is visible to us or it broke apart and nobody is interested in funding for another one. Most of the time we stop playing not because of sunset or due to the end of the match but our ball will go to some bush patches and it will be impossible to find it in the evening.

Oh how many overs are wasted!!! In that days we played 6 over, 10 over games only. People start copying it and started 20-20 format!!! Actually we forget to patent it!!! Forgt to say, there where tests too. In which a person can bat as long as they keep their wickets; ofcourse no second innings. We too have some triple centuries.

The problem is with umpairing. There will not be any umpaire at all. Everyone wants batting, or want to become wicket keeper; so noboby was interested in umpairing. Many dislikes fielding too; as fielder have to run after the ball all the time, and have to search the ball in the thick bushes, paddy fields and wells. Oh forget to say we have 2 open wells in the boundries. In fact if the batsman played the ball in to well he is out.

Once the ball went to wells then someone will capture the ball using bucket and play will continue. We where exprets in methods to take the ball out of the wells. If the rop and bucket method is not possible then somone will get down in to the well using ropes and took the ball out. In fact I used this rope method to get in to the well once. Believe me it was not at all good to look at the sky from that depths for the first time. Second time it will be ok. (I think so, no second time experience).

Each year after the paddy season we made our own pitch in the middle of the vast field and play there untill the next paddy season begins. Later we moved in to rubber plantations for playing cricket. There will be considerable space between each rubber trees and that pattern will be maintained all over the plantation.

But now everything look like a distant memory. No more paddy fields, no more playing grounds; even I cant see a open well here. I spent another lonely sunday in our room. Now again monday came.


Wednesday, September 2, 2009

Nuclear Pakistan - Missiles, US- Pak Relationship and India

[Babar Curise Missiles on a Truck at IDEAS 2008]

According to Geography, after separating from Panjiya Indian plateau moved towards north; collided with Eurasian plateau and Himalaya mountain rang was formed on the process. What happen instead of hitting, Indian plateau come close to Asia and then stop the movement thus forming an island? No boundary problems no need for building barbed wires across the Line of Control etc.

But past is past. Its collided and become the part of Asia. Due to boundaries boundary problems started, wars initiated thousands of people died, but boundary problem still not died.

In order to support Pakistan economy and military on US's war on Terror on Af-Pak region; US administration is seeking congress approval for $7.5bn aid to Pakistan over the next five
years; US also provides other goodies to Pakistan like armed maritime surveillance aircraft, new generation missiles, F-16 fighters, 155mm artillery guns, C-130 Hercules Transport aircraft, attack Helicopters etc.

Pakistan too is keen on developing her assets. Like enhancing her Nuclear capabilities. But the problem is according to them their only enemy is India. So naturally all will be directd towards India. Recent reports of Bullettin of atomic scientists suggest that
"Pakistan has an estimated arsenal of about 70 –90 nuclear weapons and is busily enhancing its capabilities across the board. A new nuclear-capable ballistic missile is being readied for deployment, and two nuclear capable cruise missiles are under development. Two new plutonium production reactors and a second chemical separation facility also are under construction."
"Following the example of other nations that have developed nuclear weapons, Pakistan is improving its weapon designs, moving beyond its first-generation nuclear weapons that relied on HEU. For atleast a decade, Pakistan has been pursuing plutonium-based designs. Central to that effort is the 40–50-megawatt heavy water Khushab plutonium production reactor, which was completed in 1998 and is located at Joharabad in the Khushab district of Punjab. Six surface - to air missile batteries surround the site to protect against air strikes. As a sign of its confidence in its plutonium designs, Pakistan is building two additional heavy water reactors at the Khushab site, which will more than triple the country’s plutonium production."
70-90 Nuclear weapons, a new nuclear-capable ballistic missile is being readied for deployment, and two nuclear capable cruise missiles are under development. These developments which needs huge capital infusions are appening at a time when the country is virtually on a civil war and the economy is on the edge of collapse. Not only this the number of internally dislocated people due to operations against Taliban will be in lacks if not millions.

Even in the midst of insurgency activities which is already questioning the integrity of the country, Pakistan is not ready to move the army from its eastern borders(with India) to western borders where the US-Pak operations against insurgents are going on.

Not only in Nuclear warheads but in developing long range missiles too Pakistan is moving fast ;
"The Babur appears to be similar to the new Chinese DH-10 air-launched cruise missile and the Russian AS-15. The Babur is significantly slimmer than Pakistan’s ballistic missiles, which suggests that Pakistani engineers have made progress in warhead miniaturization, perhaps based on a new and smaller plutonium warhead. A submarine-launched version of the Babur, which has been rumored to be in the work, has not yet materialized."
Why Pakistan or any country an a missile? Either to attack or to Defence. Who will be the first enemy of Pakistan? Taliban? Afghanistan? Iran? India? China? or US? Russia? No prize money for the answer. Its India of course.

Amid of this another controversy broke out. This time the main hero was an Anti ship missile - Harpoon.

Harpoon is an anti ship missile developed by McDonnell Douglas( Now Boeing Integrated Defense Systems). It can be launched from a Fixed-Wing Aircraft, Surface Ship, Submarines or Coastal Defence batteries.This is the same missile which reportedly destroyed Much of Iraqi Navy in the First Gulf war. The accusation by US was that Pakistan modified the anti ship missile to attack land targets which violates end user agreemnt. Now who is the land target? Any doubt?

But Pakistani authorities denies this accusation; A senior official told to NYTimes that :
"The American accusation was “incorrect.” The official said that the missile tested was developed by Pakistan, just as it had modified North Korean designs to build a range of land-based missiles that could strike India. He said that Pakistan had taken the unusual step of agreeing to allow American officials to inspect the country’s Harpoon inventory to prove that it had not violated the law, a step that administration officials praised."
Some experts also agree with this;
"Robert Hewson, editor of Jane’s Air-Launched Weapons, a yearbook and Web-based data service, said the Harpoon missile did not have the necessary range for a land-attack missile, which would lend credibility to Pakistani claims that they are developing their own new missile. Moreover, he said, Pakistan already has more modern land-attack missiles that it developed itself or acquired from China. “They’re beyond the need to reverse-engineer old U.S. kit,” Mr. Hewson said in a telephone interview. “They’re more sophisticated than that.” Mr. Hewson said the ship-to-shore missile that Pakistan was testing was part of a concerted effort to develop an array of conventional missiles that could be fired from the air, land or sea to address India’s much more formidable conventional missile arsenal."
The point is not if Pakistan altered the Harpoon or not. But they have more capable missiles than Harpoon. Like Abdali-I (BRBM),Ghaznavi (SRBM),Ghauri (missile) (MRBM), GhauriII(MRBM), Ghauri-III (Close ICBM), Hatf-I/IA (BRBM),Shaheen missile (MRBM),Shaheen-II (IRBM), Shaheen-III (IRBM),Babur missile (Cruise Missile), Ra'ad (Air Launched Cruise Missile),MAR-1 etc. They are becoming more and more sophisticated.

Look at our situation, we still don't have a ICBM(Inter Continental Ballistic Missile) - Surya missile is yet to develop. In short If there a war with China in the future how many Indian missiles will reach the distant Chinese regions? But almost all of India may come under the range of Chinese missiles. Our neighbors are moving with all the pace they can. The people who can laugh at this moment will be the Defence Equipment Manufactures only.

We can't buy the US government's words as it is. Their objective is some how attain victory in Afganistan and move out of the country. They may sell the defence equipments to India; its business. But our security will be on our hands only. We have to design it, develop it.

One more question will US stop or put conditions on $7.5bn aid to Pakistan? I think no. They will talk about conditions, but in th end it will become a blank cheque. After all US's south asia plans starts from Afganistan and ends in Pakistan.