Friday, December 30, 2016

Stories: Perception on Perception

A teacher teaching Maths to a six-year-old asked him, “If I give you one apple and one apple & one apple, how many apples will you have?”

Boy replied confidently, “Four!”

Dismayed teacher was expecting an effortless correct answer (three).

She was disappointed. “May be the child did not listen properly,” she thought. She repeated, “pls listen carefully. It is very simple. You will be able to do it right if you listen carefully. If I give you one apple and one apple and one apple, how many apples will you have?”

The boy had seen the disappointment on his teacher’s face. He calculated again on his fingers. But within him he was also searching for the answer that will make his teacher happy.

This time hesitatingly he replied, “Four...”

The disappointment stayed on teacher’s face. She remembered that the boy loves strawberries. She thought maybe he doesn’t like apples and that is making him lose focus. This time with exaggerated excitement & twinkling eyes she asked ...

“If I give you one strawberry & one strawberry & one strawberry, then how many will you have?”

Seeing the teacher happy, the young boy calculated on his fingers again. There was no pressure on him, but a little on the teacher. She wanted her new approach to succeed.

With a hesitating smile, the young boy replied, “Three?”

The teacher now had a victorious smile. Her approach had succeeded. She wanted to congratulate herself. But one last thing remained.

Once again she asked him, “Now if I give you one apple and one apple and one more apple how many will you have?”

Promptly the answer was “Four!”

The teacher was aghast.

“How.... tell me, How?” she demanded in a little stern and irritated voice.

In a voice that was low and hesitating young boy replied, “Because I already have one apple in my bag.”

PS: When someone gives you an answer that is different from what you are expecting, it is not necessarily they are wrong. There may be an angle that we may not have understood at all. We need to learn to appreciate and understand different perspectives. Quite often, we try and impose our perspectives on others and then wonder what went wrong.

Disclaimer: '#Forwarded' label refers to stories and anecdotes send to me by friends or the ones I came across in net. I neither know the source of these stories nor its correctness. Being said that, I like the story and truly believe that readers will get inspiration/ motivation from these articles

Tuesday, December 27, 2016

Stories: Value of Life

A little boy once went to his grandpa and asked, "What's the value of life?"

Grandpa gave him a stone and said, "Find out the value of this stone, but don't sell it"

Boy took the stone to an Orange Seller and asked him what its cost would be.

Orange Seller saw the shiny stone and said, "You can take 12 oranges for that stone."

Boy apologized and said that grandpa has asked him not to sell it.

He went ahead and found a vegetable seller and asked, "What could be the value of this stone?"

Seller saw the shiny stone and said, "Take one sack of potatoes and give me the stone."

Boy again apologized and said he can't sell it.

Further ahead, he went into a jewellery shop and asked the value of the stone.

The jeweler saw the stone under a lens and said, "I'll give you 1 million for this stone."

When the boy shook his head, the jeweler said, "Alright, alright, take two 24 karat gold necklaces, but give me the stone."

Boy explained that he can't sell the stone.

Further ahead, boy saw a precious stone's shop and asked seller the value of this stone.

When precious stone's seller saw the big ruby, he lay down a red cloth and put ruby on it. Then he walked in circles around the ruby; bent down and touched his head in front of the ruby. "From where did you bring this priceless ruby from?" he asked.

"Even if I sell the whole world, and my life, I won't be able to purchase this priceless stone."

Stunned and confused, the boy returned to grandpa and told him what had happened.

"Now tell me what is the value of life, grandpa?"

Grandpa said, "The answers you got from the Orange Seller, the Vegetable Seller, the Jeweler & the Precious Stone's Seller explain the value of our life...

You may be a precious stone, even priceless; but people will value you based on their financial status, their level of information, their belief in you, their motive behind entertaining you, their ambition, and their risk taking ability. But don't fear, you will surely find someone who will discern your true value."

You are Unique.

Disclaimer: '#Forwarded' label refers to stories and anecdotes send to me by friends or the ones I came across in net. I neither know the source of these stories nor its correctness. Being said that, I like the story and truly believe that readers will get inspiration/ motivation from these articles

Tuesday, December 20, 2016

Chinese Method for Testing the Waters

USNS Bowditch
The cat and mouse game is on in South China sea, where most of the waters are claimed by China (nine dashed lines). What China don’t know is, how far US will go in South China Sea disputes to protect allies. Will they walk the talk? No one knows. Hence, China is doing what they can do at best. Test the situation… What make this game more interesting is, the actual policy of Donald Trump towards China when he comes to power.

Latest in the chain of events is the capture of US underwater drone. Pentagon claims that it is a scientific research vessel. However, it is quite possible that the vessel was researching Chinese navel assets deployed on contested waters. It is believed that, while launching underwater drone US ship - Bowditch - was just 50 miles away from Subic Bay (former US Navy base in Philippines). This means Bowditch might be outside of nine dashed lines.

As expected Philippines, didn’t make any hue and cry after the incident; which happened within the waters claimed by them. Philippines hardly said a word when new satellite images uncovered weapon installations on artificial islands around Spartly chain.

There may be two reason for this. First, Philippines navy is not in a position to take on Chinese; second, country is looking for Chinese investments; and finally, current president Durette wants more warm relations with China and slowly drifting away from US.

Well US protested formally and after a lot of exchanges Chinese agreed to return the captured Drone.
This incident happened days after US President-elect called Taiwanese president; which was first such official contact by any US president (or president elect) after Jimmy Carter recognized China on 1979. China didn’t take it well.

Where it is heading?

1. I believe Chinese is testing US; to know what extent America will go?
2. Most of the actions by Chinese till now are below a carefully defined threshold; beyond which US has to respond. Problem is, exactly where the threshold is?
3. These types of incidents will cement Chinese authority on entire South China Sea. When one of the contested party – the Philippines – is not ready to protest, US can hardly do much.
4. This incident also raise questions about the future of ‘US – Philippines’ relations
5. No consequence for Chinese actions will only make them bold to go ahead with this policy.


Monday, December 19, 2016

Launching from Air

As a first US launched Pegasas rocket from air, at a height of 40,000 feet above Atlantic Ocean, using an aircraft. This rocket later placed 8 tiny satellites, designed for better Hurricane intensity predictions,  in to orbits. 

All eight satellites are very small – as small as a microwave oven - but the important thing here is we are moving a step ahead and were able to launch the rocket and satellites from air. 

Current problem faced by whether forecasters is finding out the nature and intensity of wind formed under storm clouds. Current satellite configurations will give the data only twice in a  day. Rest of the data is coming from Hurricane hunter planes. With this grid of micro-satellites we will be able to get data in every 12 minutes for any storm formed in tropics. Without doubt, this enhanced forecasting capacity is going to save a lot of lives.  

Pegasus XL Rocket Launches with CYGNSS Spacecraft


Sunday, December 18, 2016

Where Supreme Court of India is heading?

I never felt so much lost when there was continuous washout of Indian parliament; more or less this became a norm than an anomaly. Nevertheless, there was a different set of expectations from SCI. Couple of recent judgements based hardly on any rational thought made a huge dent on those expectations.

Most important of that, is the issue of playing national anthem before the beginning of every movie in theaters. In response to writ petition (855/2016) ‘Shyam Narayan Chouksey’ Vs ‘Union of India’ Supreme Court told,

(a)    There shall be no commercial exploitation to give financial advantage or any kind of benefit…
Well, first point is fine.

(b)    There shall not be dramatization of the National Anthem and it should not be included as a part of any variety show…
Ok, let’s agree for a moment and go on.

(c)     National Anthem or a part of it shall not be printed on any object and also never be displayed in such a manner at such places which may be disgraceful to its status and tantamount to disrespect…
Shall not be printed? What about printing the anthem in books? What about writing it down? Aren’t we going to the extremes?

(d)    All the cinema halls in India shall play the National Anthem before the feature film starts and all present in the hall are obliged to stand up to show respect to the National Anthem.

(e)    Prior to the National Anthem is played or sung in the cinema hall on the screen, the entry and exit doors shall remain closed so that no one can create any kind of disturbance which will amount to disrespect to the National Anthem. After the National Anthem is played or sung, the doors can be opened.

(f)      When the National Anthem shall be played in the Cinema Halls, it shall be with the National Flag on the screen.

Points d, e, f constitutes the worst part of the judgement. On what basis SC made it mandatory to sing national anthem in movie theatres? What made movie theatres so special? Do movie theatres represents the idea of India? temple of democracy? most sacrosanct place in India?

If I want to hear national anthem I will play it. If someone is singing at the beginning of a related function – like flag hosting etc. – I will stand up out of deep respect I have.  When I hear the anthem in the back drop of Himalayan snow or republic day parade my mind will be filled with pride and happiness.

Does that mean I should wake up and respect when I travel in a bus and then anthem is played at nearby school? Or word when someone is driving bike? Just imagine, in movie theatres a B grade movie is getting played right after national anthem. I think this judgement itself is a disrespect to national anthem.

By the way, why insists on Movie theatres? Why not on Indian Parliament, Government offices and of course why not play the anthem at the beginning of every hearing at Supreme court?

Respect is something which comes from our mind not an injectable.

Now there are reports in newspapers that people are getting attacked in movie theaters for not standing up during national anthem.

(g)    The abridge version of the National Anthem made by any one for whatever reason shall not be played or displayed.

Come on.There are millions of cases pending in so many courts in India. In Supreme Court, itself there may be thousands of cases. Life of millions depends on those verdicts. People come to SCI with the hope that they will get justice. Justice delayed is equivalent to justice denied.  With all due respect, SCI, should not entertain these types of verdicts.



Capturing new Market and Scoring Political Points - Chinese goods in Nepal

China - Nepal border crossing (Photo:

While shouting matches, selective leaks on de-monetization, re-monetization keeps politicians and strategists busy here in India; China took her relations with Nepal to its next level. Latest in the string of events is the opening of new trade route which will wide open Nepalese markets to Chinese goods. This will finally break India’s monopoly in Nepalese markets.

New era in ‘Nepal – China’ relations started when trucks carrying goods from western city of Guangzhou arrived at Nepalese capital Kathmandu. Goods worth USD 2.8mn travelled a lengthy 5,200km till Xigaze by train and the rest 870km by road. Goods coming through this lengthy road won’t be cheap unless China is going to subsidize it. But China will definitely do it; after all Nepal is not just a market but a new political theatre.

China also announced her plan to connect Nepal with its rail network through a new line from Gyirong. In addition to this, Chinese Telecom announced an agreement with Nepal Telecom to provide internet through new terrestrial cable.

Well, it’s good for Nepal after all they are not going to be fully dependent on India for goods and services. At the same time, this is going to make Indians uncomfortable.


Sunday, December 11, 2016

Watering down... A bit more...

“The regional government of China’s far western region of Xinjiang, which has grappled with ethnic violence, has put into effect strict regulations that punish people for spreading “false information” online” - NYT

Are you shocked? No right... One thing communism is not able to wipeout is the sense of cultural identity. Though the idea reigned a great geographic mass of Asia and Europe for more than seven decades, people came out of it with a stronger sense of cultural uniqueness. Even in numerous multicultural societies, a separate identity still exists underneath. Better than trying to eradicate it, assimilate it. In that line rather than fearing a detached cultural identity of Xinjiang, try to integrate it with Chinese identity. 

In this open world, how long Chinese will be able to stop the spread of "false information"? So, try to give room for cultural differences to exist than abolishing it. Chinese Communist Party added an ocean of water to the idea of communism. Sprinkling some more will not cause any problem.


Saturday, December 10, 2016

Absurdly Huge

"Actor George Clooney and his wife Amal are reportedly living separate lives and are ready for a $300 million divorce" - TOI

Divorces are abundant in modern society. Old days of adjustments and single companion for life already became history in numerous cultures. Nonetheless, I am wondering, whether it is right to ask or pay such enormous sum for getting separation? $300mn for a divorce...!!!


Wednesday, December 7, 2016

Brahmaputra and Future Water Conflicts Between India and China

Entire Ganges, Brahmaputra and Padma-Meghna Basins
Mighty Himalayas are the water tower of South and Southeast Asia. More than 10 major rivers originate from Tibetan plateau - Brahmaputra, Yangtze, Mekong, Sutlej, Indus, Salween and Huang Ho (aka Yellow River) are some of them. All these rivers are critical to the life and well-being of millions of people live on their banks.

Brahmaputra River

2,880km long Brahmaputra originates from Tibet. There the river is known as ‘Yarlung Tsangpo’. Total drainage area of Brahmaputra river is 5,73,394 This river flows eastwards through southern Tibet for a distance of 1,625 km; then at its easternmost point it takes a spectacular U-turn at Shuomatan Point (aka Great Bend) and enters India’s easternmost state - Arunachal Pradesh.

Here the river is known as Siang. After replenished by several tributaries, Brahmaputra enters Assam (aka Asom). Brahmaputra is the life blood of Assam; after slowly flowing through Assam, Brahmaputra enters Bangladesh. In Bangladesh, this river is known by the name Jamuna. During his course in Bangladesh, Brahmaputra joins with Ganges (known as Padma in Bangladesh) and Meghna and flows to Bay of Bengal. Before embracing the sea, this combined river system creates the largest delta – Sundarbans.

By the way, this river is also shared by Bhutan.

Importance for China, India and Bangladesh

In terms of water flow and length, Brahmaputra is the largest of Indian (though all parts are not in India) rivers. From time to time, this river creates floods in Assam, thereby enriching the soil in that state. As far as Bangladesh and the delta is concerned, water from Brahmaputra is their lifeblood. In a not so distant future when climate change threatens the patterns of Monsoon and many rivers are expected to go dry, Brahmaputra may be the answer – at least for some time. Declining water flow in Brahmaputra will also make its estuary more saline and adversely affects the livelihoods of millions there.

The Problem

Problem we are currently facing is the huge demand for water and electricity from northern and eastern Chinese cities. As population is exploding in cities of coastal China, demand for water is also rising exponentially.  However, water is not something which china can manufacturing cheaply. It is altogether a different matter that, the run for becoming the manufacturing capital of world also heavily polluted most of the water resources in China.

So, Chinese found a simple solution, redirect water from Tibetan plateau to coastal cities. It doesn’t matter how complex the engineering or natural calamity it is going to create. Looks like the Chinese government is almost determined to divert water from the great rivers of south to provide for hungry north and coastal area.


In order to accomplish the task, Chinese government is going to create a series of dams in Brahmaputra - Zangmu, Gyatsa, Zhongda, Jiexu, Jiacha, Langzhen etc.

Another solution is to break the Great Bend and let Brahmaputra flow to China (however this is a huge engineering challenge) or lift the water from Brahmaputra and move it to coastal area (this is also an engineering challenge). Chinese romanticism with huge projects and their gigantic chest of money may even make this possible.

Zangmu dam is the first in the series. Built at an altitude of 3,260m, this 26-turbine dam is expected to generate 540 MW of electricity. Its height will be 116m and length 390m. This dam will have a width of 19m at top and 76m at bottom.

It is believed that Jiexu, Zangmu and Jiacha are within 25km of each other and approximately 550km from Sino-Indian border.

Recently China operationalized $1.5bn Zam Hydropower Station. Located in Gyaca County, Shannan Prefecture, and built by ‘Gezhouba Group’ on Brahmaputra river this project seems to be the largest in Tibet. This dam is also considered as world's highest-altitude hydropower station and the largest of its kind (this dam will produce 2.5bn kwh/year)

China claims that these dams are basically designed as run of the river and not meant for diverting or storing water. However, there isn’t much data available and its extreme secret nature is very much suspicious.

Fragile Ecosystem

Even if it is not meant for water diversion, these dams (for that matter dams currently under construction at Indian side of Himalaya) are extremely dangerous.

Gorge of Brahmaputra is located in a highly seismic zone and prone to earthquakes. In China, there is a strong lobby advocating large dams (in India as well). They should have learned lessons from three gorges dam.  

An excellent paper 'Mountains of Concrete: Dams Building in the Himalayas' published by an NGO International Rivers - People, Water, Life’ explains,

'One of the biggest changes to occur in big dams in the past 20 years is the rise of Chinese dam builders and financiers. China's dam industry has gone global, building hundreds of dams throughout Africa and Southeast Asia, but also Central Asia, South America, and the Himalayas'.

From the experience of flash floods and other disasters in Uttarakhand due to immense changes in the ecosystem and frenzy dam building activities we all should have learned the lesson. Chinese should be knowing better after three gorges dam. Costly Three Gorges project was marketed as the solution for all problems and ended up as the biggest nightmare.

Imagine the breakup of a huge dam in higher Himalayas. This will wipe out civilization at river banks in lower Himalayas. As we all know, Himalayas are one of the world’s youngest mountain range and highly seismic. We can’t even blame nature for disasters.

International Problems

Brahmaputra is not fully flows through Tibet; its waters are life blood for North-Eastern India and Bangladesh. When building dams in international rivers - that too in border areas – Chinese have to answer the concerns raised by lower riparian states.

Some of the mitigation actions both India and China should take immediately are,

1.       Make the details and design of dam’s public; or at least share it with riparian states.
2.       Let Indian officials visit the sites. After all, dams are not military bases.
3.       Chinese government should publish a white paper about their future plans for Himalayan rivers.
4.       We should also set up a permanent joint river commission for Brahmaputra. Commission should meet regularly (like Nile Basin Initiative or Mekong River Commission).
5.       Chinese should provide year around water flow data in Chinese side of Brahmaputra to India.
6.       A water sharing agreement.

Let’s start with these steps,

We should not expect that Chinese will provide the data just by asking. If that was the case, then this would have happened years ago. It is to be noted that, China has refused to join Mekong River Commission (they are only observers in the commission). In addition to that, dragon is yet to ratify UN Convention on Non-Navigable Use of International Watercourses. What more, there isn’t any water sharing agreements between Indian and China, even though many rivers critical to the very existence of Northern, Western and North-Eastern India starts from Tibetan plateau. 

We shouldn’t hesitate in demanding data. This is very much critical for India.


PS: It is believed that - in June 2000 - a natural dam on Chinese-controlled side of Brahmaputra broke free and caused massive flooding in Arunachal Pradesh. 30 Indians killed and another 50,000 displaced from their homes. Indian authorities charged that, China had withheld vital information that could have improved flood forecasts. This finally led to 2002 agreement by which China should supply river flow data to India during flood season. Problem is, this agreement covers for 6 months only. We are still stuck there. Chinese should provide around the year data to India.

1.       Wikipedia
2.       Tibetan Sun etc.
3.   Photo Courtesy: Wikipedia 

“Who Moved My Cheese” by Spencer Johnson

This book was with me for a long time. I don’t know why, but I didn’t read it till today. Through this book author is presenting his ideas about change and how to accept it through four characters – Hem, Haw, Sniff and Scurry.

After searching through the maze for long, all four characters mentioned above found huge quantity of cheese at ‘Station C’. As the quantity was quite large, all four stopped their search and started coming directly to station C every morning. One day when Sniff and Scurry reach station C, it was empty. They didn’t waste time and started looking at other parts of the maze for cheese. Then came Haw and Hem. They were startled to see an empty station C. Unlike Sniff and Scurry, they were not ready to move on. Both of them felt that, it’s their right to get cheese from station C and believed that sooner or later someone would replenish station C. They waited and waited...

As the days passed, Haw began to think differently and started searching for cheese in the maze. However, Hem resisted the change and stood there. After a lot of struggle, How finally discovered huge collection of cheese at ‘Station N’. 

In the book, this story was told by a guy at a friend’s gathering. Later the group started discussing the story. 

Through this simple story, author presented how we should all embrace change.

Key points in this story are, 

a  Change Happens – they keep moving the cheese
b. Anticipate change – Get ready for the cheese to move.
c. Monitor Change – Smell the change often so you know when it is getting old.
d. Adapt to change quickly – The quicker you let go of old cheese the sooner you can enjoy new cheese.
e. Change – Move in with new cheese
f. Enjoy change – Savor the adventure and enjoy the taste of new cheese.
g. Be ready to change quickly and enjoy it again – They keep moving the change. 

If you like this article don’t forget to read the book as well.