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Showing posts from 2011
Timely Vaccination Can Protect Precious Little Lives from Vaccine-preventable Diseases—Save a Child, Save a Life, and Save a Dream.

2011- The Year That Was

We are into the final week of 2011, which has been characterized of revolutions and protests. Egypt is still witnessing clashes, crisis looms large over Syria, Iraq is facing after-shocks after withdrawal of U.S troops and Pakistan government reportedly fears another coup. Even Russian Premier Vladimir Putin, whose Presidential candidature appeared to be unchallenged at the outset, is facing protests at home. Japan faced worst ever earthquake and Tsunami, which triggered nuclear radiation from Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant. Thailand suffered terrible floods since late July, which caused loss of lives, property and livelihood. 
North Korea lost Kim Jong-il. The leadership of North Korea is now in the hands of a young Kim Jong-un and the world has to wait to see his approach to international relations and ties with South Korea. Way back in 1994, when Kim Jong-il took over the leadership of the country, the world hoped for a change in country's policy. Far from it, North Korea went …

The Last Fortnight

As we enter the last fortnight of the year, Christmas fever has set in. For many, an eagerly awaited holiday season is fast approaching. Shopping Streets are more busier than usual. Online shopping sites are busy wooing the customers with attractive offers, and spammers may well be busy designing ways to dupe people. For retail and hospitality industry, Christmas season is the gala time of the year, though brewing recession is playing the spoilsport as shoppers across Europe are trimming their spending plans. Whether people prefer to be austere or are in a spending spree, the focus is definitely towards family, home and holidays. Egyptians are finally voting for a new Parliament. Violence and clashes still continue. However, after a year full of revolutions and protests, it's time for peace and tranquility. Hopefully, something positive will emerge out of the current crisis. The countdown has begun for the next Presidential elections in the United States (U.S). Iraq gears up for …

Intense Negotiations Result in a Landmark Deal

Far away in Durban, South Africa 194 countries agreed on a landmark deal on the significant issue of climate change. The Durban Summit was significant as the first commitment period ends next year. Devoid of the hype received by previous Summits, the leaders arrived at an agreement after intense round of negotiations. The positives of the Summit include extension of the commitment period, negotiating a global treaty by 2015, which would bring all countries in the legal ambit to reduce green house gas emissions w.e.f. from 2020, creation of the Green Climate Fund to aid poor countries battle the disastrous effects of climate change. While we would not see any real changes soon, the deal is a good step forward at a time, when there was a danger of derailment of the progress made so far. The deal could not have been possible, without the support of United States, which has been reluctant, and intense negotiations between European Union, India and China. India rightly placed emphasis on …

The Debate Continues

After the FDI logjam, the focus has again shifted to the debate on the Lokpal issue. In one of my earlier posts, I said that it is still early to reach conclusions. Many years later, year 2011 would be seen in retrospect as a crucial year for Indian democracy. There will always be a debate on the ways and mode of debate, which will do the balancing act and ensure that the focus is on the resolution of the issues at hand. But, one of the greatest achievements of Anna Hazare's movement on the Lokpal issue has been that it has made the entire country debate and express opinion. The media has played its part. The Parliament respected the sentiments by adopting a 'sense of the house resolution'. The Joint Parliamentary Committee has tabled the report. Disagreements still exist and debate continues. What's happening today at Jantar Mantar has become highly significant with the participation of members of several political parties.The participation of political parties, fo…

Ever-Inspiring and Irreplaceable

Many young Indians have grown up hearing Dev Anand being referred as an evergreen star, and he continued to be referred so. Dev Anand will be remembered for his matchless style, ever-inspiring passion for cinema and zest for life. Described by Indian cinema's stalwarts as 'evergreen star', 'epitome of romance', 'entertainer with golden heart' and 'karmayogi', the evergreen hero will remain in the Indian hearts for ever. He was charming yet an intense actor, who stayed active in the India cinematic scene for over 60 years. Yet, words are not enough to describe the legend. May his soul rest in peace.

Unrest in the MENA Continues

Nine months after Hosni Mubarak's regime was overthrown, unrest in the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) continues. Egyptians are still waiting for that evasive democracy as protests continue in Cairo. Libya witnessed a bloody end to 42 year old Gaddafi regime. Syria is in the midst of a severe crisis as protests and government crackdowns continue. The fate of Arab League's peace plan still hangs in balance. Will we witness an end of the dictatorship across the world or will it lead to more chaos in countries facing the revolution? Part of the problem lies with the inability of the respective regimes to foresee the crisis and their refusal to undertake reforms. Had the regimes been flexible enough to relinquish power or had the dexterity to resolve internal issues, they could have continued to enjoy public support, prevented the loss of lives of hundreds of people, avoided the present chaos and external intervention in the region. Although human rights violations and non-co…

Impeccable Voice Turns Silent, Still Resonates

Bhupen Hazarika had a distinct voice, clear and easily recognizable. His voice had the power to make everyone stop and listen. In a career spanning over half a century, he donned several hats such as a film-maker, singer, composer, journalist and author among others. The legend left this world after a long illness. India has lost two music maestro's in less than a month, the other being irreplaceable ghazal singer Jagjit Singh, who passed away last month after fighting a massive brain stroke. Dr. Hazarika's contribution to the Indian cinema, and Assamese in particular is an inspiration for many. May he rest in peace. "Dil hoom hoom kare" and "Oh Ganga Tum, Ganga Behti Ho Kyun? will resonate among his fans for a long time to come.

Will Youngsters Make their Mark? Will We See Sehwag at his Flamboyance Best? Will the Master Blaster reach the Incredible Feat? Will Bishoo Turn the Tables on India? Upcoming Home Series Against West Indies Will Reveal All

After the victorious Bangladesh Tour, the West Indian team would be in high spirits, when they take on India in the first test at Feroz Shah Kotla in Delhi, which begins on 6th November. Caribbeans have been in the sub-continent for a month now, and that would help them in their battle against the Indians, which comprises of three tests and five One Day Internationals (ODIs). At the same time, the Indian team would look forward to continue the winning campaign. The World Champions bounced back after the disastrous England tour, by defeating England 5-0 in the ODI series at home. Dhoni's team for the first test is a combination of the veterans and juniors. In the absence of the turbanator, all eyes will be on the spin duo of Ashwin and Ojha as well as Ishant Sharma to deliver the results for India in the bowling department. It would be interesting to see whether youngsters Umesh Yadav, Rahul Sharma and Varun Aaron make the most of the opportunity to play for the country. Devendra …

Devoid of Hype, Durban Climate Change Talks Hold High Significance

In general, all countries have an understanding and are aware of the adverse affects of global warming and rising greenhouse gas emissions. Kyoto Protocol of 1997 was a major step to address the concern and reduce emission levels. However, the biggest drawback of the Protocol is the lack of ratification by the United States (U.S). Durban, South Africa is hosting this years session of the Conference of Parties (COP) of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC). This years talks scheduled to begin during the last week of November are significant as the first commitment period, which began in 2008 ends in 2012. Many countries are hesitant to endorse another commitment period. Unlike the Copenhagen Session held in 2009, which generated lot of hype and hope, last years talks at Cancun and the upcoming Durban session have not received much publicity. Having said that, the upcoming session is highly significant for future efforts to deal with the complex problem of …

Normal Life Affected by Economic Blockade

The continuing economic blockade in North-Eastern State of Manipur is cause for concern. While one group has called off the blockade after government assurance of considering creation of a new district, blockade by the group opposing the demand still continues. While there is no denying that it is a sensitive issue, groups involved must find solutions by sitting across the table and find solutions as the ultimate sufferers are citizens, who are forced to shell out large amount of money on necessities. Economic blockades are no way to resolve disputes. While it is understandable that governments have to do the balancing act while dealing with sensitive regional issues, procrastination over such issues for decades only complicates the situation. Hope, issues are resolved to the satisfaction of all concerned, and normalcy is restored.

A Global Community of Over 7 Billion

The global human population has crossed the 7 Billion mark today.. Significantly, it has taken just over 2 centuries for the global community to grow 7 times of their size from around 1 billion at the beginning of the 19th century to over 7 billion in 2011, and we may well double ourselves over the next century. A global community of over 7 billion. Remarkable progress, but grave challenges ahead. Read more on Insights.

Blame Game over Child Deaths

Another example of lack of proper child health care facilities is on display in some cities of West Bengal. Rather than playing the blame game over death of infants, efforts must be made to identify the root causes and initiating remedial action to save precious lives. Recently, the state of Uttar Pradesh was in the news for several encephalitis deaths. No blame game over child deaths, please.

Explore Before You Visit

Want to visit a popular store or restaurant. Pause for a moment. Take a look online. You may well have chance to view the interiors of the destination, before you plan a visit. And if you own a business, you have an opportunity to take business promotion to a new level. Google has introduced a new concept under street view, wherein the company allows select businesses to showcase their interiors by applying for a photo shoot. The company has introduced the concept in select cities across six countries. Way to go!

Still in this Age

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Festival of Lights

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Indian Grand Prix - Will F1 be the Game Changer?

India is all set to host the first Formula One (F1) Grand Prix. The success of the F1 racing event, would firmly place India, best known for cricket, on the world's sport map. It would open the door for organizing more international sporting events in the country, and encourage other sports as well. On the flip side, the cops will have additional challenge of stopping late night rash driving by youngsters on city roads.

Is the fight, Off the Rails?

In one of my previous posts titled "Cautious Optimism", I had emphasized on the need for civil society to tread with caution. By declaring the fight against one particular political party, they are in danger of derailing the fight against corruption. They have also provided opportunity for their critics to question their credibility. Instead, the team could have focused on creating awareness among people at the ground level, which was the next logical step and could have helped in fighting the menace. But then, nothing is perfect in this world. It's still early to reach conclusions.

Pak to Join India as Non-Permanent Member of UNSC

The Asian rivals will share the space as non-permanent members of United Nations Security Council (UNSC) during 2012. India's term, which started in January 2011 will expire in December 2012. Pakistan will serve the two year term from January 2012 to December 2013. We can expect cooperation between the two countries at the international level. More significantly, five of the ten non-permanent members of the UNSC during 2012 will be from Asia and Africa with the entry of Pakistan, Togo and Morocco. The other two members from the region being India and South Africa. So, in 2012, we can expect greater Afro-Asian cooperation at the UNSC.

New Takeover Code in Place from Today

We can expect a flurry of activity in the coming months as the Securities and Exchange Board of India's (SEBI)'s new Takeover Code becomes operational from today. While promoters with less than 25% state would be striving to retain their control, acquirers would be plotting to takeover target companies. We can expect heightened private equity activity in the Indian market. It would be interesting to watch the response of the major Indian corporates in the new scenario. Expect a tug-of-war between the promoters and acquirers. The action begins now.

The On and Off Approach

The time has come to adopt a more decisive approach towards internal issues plaguing the country. While there is no arguing that issues such as creation of small states, and dealing with insurgency are complex issues, the "on and off approach" has not helped in resolution of regional disputes. Procrastination only sows the seeds of dissatisfaction among those who feel neglected or alienated, which is again passed on to their future generations. Unsettled issues also result in economic blockades affecting the lives of the common man. We can't afford to have economic blockades in any part of the country. Proactive engagement and decisive steps are required to resolve sensitive regional issues whether those in the North, the North-East or any other part of the country, and shift the focus of all regions towards growth and development.

India - Looking East, But Long Way to Go

India is finally beginning to flex its muscles and implementing its Look East Policy. The oil deal with Vietnam unfazed by Chinese objection to oil exploration in the South China Sea augurs well. However, China still has the edge in the region. While we may be enthusiastic over the oil deal, the Vietnamese media has given more coverage to the five-day visit of the ruling party leader to China, which has resulted in signing of several five-year deals for enhancing trade ties, training and education and cooperation between the Communist parties of both countries. India needs to be more proactive in the region and engage in long term relationships to strengthen its strategic interests, and to balance the growing Chinese influence. The India-Vietnam Friendship Year 2012 provides an opportunity for the country to enhance ties and reach out to the people of the South-East Asia nation.

83 and Still Batting

I am no fan of Mr. L.K.Advani or his ideology, but his spirit at this age, still aspiring for that evasive Prime Ministership and unilateral announcement to start another rath yatra, his attempt to revive the party, which he began today, does deserve attention. He choose to start his yatra from the den of Bihar CM Nitish Kumar, another aspiring Prime Ministerial candidate and perhaps more acceptable face of the NDA. It does not matter, whether he is able to change the party's fortune, what matters more is the spirit and the gest.

Wonder, why can't young tech-savvy politicos use their knowledge and skills for the betterment of the country? Perhaps, our young leaders lack the oratory skills, which connected people to political stalwarts and former Prime Ministers such as Mr.Atal Bihari Vajpayee, late Rajiv Gandhi, and  late Indira Gandhi. Well, we can always hope.

An Interesting and Influential Decade Ahead

Vladimir Putin's seemingly apparent Return to Kremlin, his Eurasian Union proposal, the increasingly aggressive and self-assertive China, the crisis in the Middle East, unresolved Afghan issue, the Rising India, the inward and outward dilemma of the U.S, increasingly self-enlightened Western Powers and turbulence in the Middle East may well alter the dynamics of the global politics. Despite the proposed U.S withdrawal from Afghan, the Af-Pak region could continue to be the center of attention. With slow and steady structural changes, African countries may well began to exercise more influence by the end of the decade. Certainly, an interesting and influential decade is right in front of us, with far-reaching implications to watch out for.

Child Deaths Cause for Concern, Need to Improve Public Health Care System

Electronic media deserves appreciation for bringing to light hundreds of encephalitis deaths in the eastern part of Uttar Pradesh over the past few months, and thousands over the last few decades. Rather than procrastinating and resorting to blame game over the child deaths, immediate efforts must be made to limit further casualties. Questions remain as to why the local media, health care centers, and elected representatives did not highlight the issue in the way, it should have been for so many years? While the country has federal structure of governance, we have not leveraged the same for timely and efficient delivery of public health care, proper sanitation and drinking water facilities. Usually, spread through insect bites or contaminated water, viral encephalitis results in inflammation of the brain and may cause death. Child health care must be given top priority. The success of polio vaccination program, must be replicated to limit spread of other diseases. There is no magic …

Africa and the Middle East share the Nobel Honor

Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, Leymah Gbowee and Tawakul Karman shared the Nobel Peace Prize for 2011. It takes strong determination and courage to stand for women empowerment in that part of the world, and the Nobel Prize Committee has rightly honored the three distinguished women. Extreme poverty and high adolescent rate remain a challenge for the West African country of Liberia, while gender disparity and high population growth rate plague Yemen. Nobel honor would certainly encourage further efforts to facilitate education, social justice, economic empowerment, right to vote, and ensure participation of women in the electoral process.

Signs off @ Just 56

Whether it is Bill Gates, Steve Jobs or Mark Zuckerberg, the great thing about them and many other achievers is that they made their mark quite early in their age. Personal Computers, iPhone, iPods, and iPads are becoming part of daily life for millions across the world. It's sad for the world to lose Steve Jobs, the co-founder of Apple, Inc. at just 56. However, he will continue to inspire many to develop innovative products for years to come. The visionary bid adieu to the world on a day, when India launched world's cheapest computer tablet, 'Akash'. May he rest in peace. Hope, our researchers and scientists find cure for cancer, that affects millions, both rich and poor across the world at the earliest.

Just An Attempt to Draw

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Save the Green Cover, Save the Hills, Save the Treasures of Nature, Before they are referred in stories as 'Once Upon a time'.

Rail journey, Language barrier, Diabetes, Children, Conversation, Sharing and Unity in Diversity

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According to World Health Organization (WHO), around 346 million people worldwide suffer from diabetes, the chronic disease, which may also cause damage to other parts of body and even aggravate many other ailments. India may well have the largest number of patients suffering from diabetes. Changes in lifestyle, growing consumption of junk food may all contribute to the growth of the menace. Not surprisingly, heart disease and diabetes are becoming common in all families. I will discuss non-communicable diseases (NCDs), some time later. But today's blog post deals with language and communication. Then, what made me began today's post with diabetes. During a recent rail journey, I encountered two old couples, one hailing from Central India, and the other from Tamil Nadu. While the former were uncomfortable in speaking English, the latter had problem speaking in Hindi. But, both families had one thing in common - the evil diabetes. And, that became the source of conversation. I…

Tribute to the African Warrior

Cancer overpowered Nobel Peace Prize Winner and founder of the Greenbelt movement in Kenya, Wangari Maathai. She will be remembered for her contribution to women empowerment, sustainable development and employment creation, and inspire many for years to come. Visionaries are often ordinary citizens, who believe something is possible and strive for it with complete determination. Africa needs many such leaders and visionaries to bring about social transformation, sustainable development and economic prosperity.

Social Networking: Keeping the flag high on rival's ship

Social networking sites continue to grow in popularity. Now Google +, Google's social networking site is open to all. Interestingly, Mark Zuckerberg, the co-founder of Facebook has more number offollowers on  the rival social networking site, far ahead than Google's co-founders Larry Page and Sergey Brin. Achievers have business acumen, which differentiates them from others.

Again, Zuckerberg is one rank ahead of Page and Brin in the new Forbes list of richest Americans. Whether Google + overtakes Facebook in popularity is something that time will reveal. Perhaps, users will make best use of both the sites.

Do We need More Rath Yatras?

We had a fairly long fasting season. Now, it's time for the Rath Yatras. Will Rath Yatras solve the problems of the people. Will that help remove corruption, control inflation, ensure food and clean drinking water, create jobs?  The answer is anybody's guess. They will certainly attract crowds, but there is no guarantee that such crowds will turn into votes during elections for those in power. We need development Yatras to solve the problems faced by the common man.

Shelter for the Needy

With the overcrowding of cities, and the ever increasing gap between the have's and have not's, there is an urgent need for creation of shelter for the poor and the needy. People living in 'informal settlements' or 'slums' are forced to vacate, as and when construction and infrastructure work begins in those areas. This problem will continue, till the time we have enough development in the rural areas. The urban municipal corporations and development authorities must create alternative arrangements to provide shelter to the slum dwellers.

When Nature Strucks

The time it took for the aid to reach the earthquake affected victims in Sikkim is an eye opener. We need to develop nature friendly infrastructure in the North and North-Eastern region. We need to create viable mechanism to communicate and reach the remote parts of the country. On the positive side, the media was quick to provide update on the situation in Sikkim.

The Wall Bids Adieu to ODI

Rahul Dravid, rightly called the wall of Indian batting, bid adieu to ODI with a swift 83rd half-century. Dravid has been one of the finest Indian cricketers of all times. The statistics speak for themselves. Only five batsmen have scored more than 80 half-centuries in one-day international cricket. He is among the eight cricketers to score over 10,000 runs in ODIs.  He is technically sound, has fine catching hands and is a remarkable team player. He played a key role in rebuilding Team Indian along with Saurav Ganguly and MS Dhoni over the last decade and has been a great ambassador of the sport. He showed remarkable character by handling the twin responsibilities of batting and wicket-keeping during the early years of the last decade, when India was struggling to find a wicket-keeper and getting the team combination right, before the arrival of Parthiv Patel and MS Dhoni on the scene.  It's now time for the likes of Virat Kohli and Suresh Raina to fill the gap and take Indian …

Fast-O-Mania

What's trending in India now. Oh yes!, the country has been smitten by the 'Fasting bug'. Agreed, keeping fast is nothing new in India. Mahatma gave us the freedom that we cherish today, through fast and non-violence. Again it's part of tradition. Muslims keep Roza, and Hindus fast on certain festivals. But, when opportunists find that a man can even galvanize millions of citizens across the country by keeping fast for a noble cause even in today's age, they are acting swiftly to embrace the same for serving their own selfish needs. We can expect more Yatra's, walks and dharna's. But you know, I know and every one knows, the ability to perform magic is possessed by a noble few, and miracles don't happen every day. Happy fasting though!

100 million

Heard Twitter reached 100 million user mark. The microblogging site has its share of advantages and threats. The way it connects  people around the world is remarkable. And now, its part of revolutions as well. Hope, the makers make it more secure and people continue to benefit from another finest invention.

Hypothalamus

Down with viral for a couple of days, did not manage to get adequate sleep. Wondered what makes us stay awake or sleep. Glanced through some old notes and Googled to find the cause—the Hypothalamus that resides in the lower part of the brain. Hypothalamus not only manages wakefulness and sleep, but also regulates body temperature and performs host of other functions. So next time, you lose sleep, don't blame people or situations around, blame the Hypo........instead.

Ganesh Utsav

Ganpati Bappa Morya Agle Baras Tu Jaldi Aa. Having growing up seeing the Ganesh Pandals at every turn of the street in my home town, it has been heartening to see the same fervor down South, here in Hyderabad. Tomorrow, all roads will lead to @Tank Bund for Ganesh Visarjan. Now, we have to wait for the Navratri for another round of festivities.  The color and flavor change from year to year, and there is of course a bit of modern touch, but festivities continue to unite India. Proud and fortunate to be an Indian.

Ten Years After...

Tenth anniversary of 9/11. While U.S has been able to streamline security and prevent further attacks, many countries across the world are still dealing with the menace. The hype after 9/11 of increased international cooperation has not changed the situation on ground. In the contrary, there are fresh challenges in the form of cyber threat. It's time to revisit the issue, and evolve a global approach to curb the menace. The heads of state will deliver their annual speech in the UN General Assembly in the coming weeks. It's high time, that UN is strengthened and more feasible and practical strategies are evolved to fight terror.

Shun Insensitivity

Another attack, several dead, many injured, and this time, the target was the National Capital. As expected, News Channels were quick to telecast the visuals, the government and the opposition, both called for display of unity in the hour of tragedy. By early evening though, it was business as usual as the blame game started. Expert analysis on television pointed out the same weaknesses, that we hear after each attack. There was no news update, rather breaking news over the entire day.
Whatever the motives, an attack results in the loss of lives of innocent citizens, from all walks of live, belonging to different religions. Life becomes much greater challenge for those injured, not to forget the trauma, which may take several years to erase. Attackers also succeed in diverting the attention from critical issues facing the country. The debate on corruption took a back seat, and overshadowed a crucial and strategic visit of the Prime Minister to Bangladesh. The South-Asian neighbour, …

Blessing in disguise

Last week Parliament communicated the sense of the House, to the standing committee on Lokpal bill making way for Anna Hazare to break his 13 day fast. The 74 year old attracted attention of the entire country. The frustration against corruption suddenly found an outlet. Amidst allegations and counter allegations, Indian democracy continues to flourish and is only expected to grow more vibrant. There could be disagreements on ways of protests, but people are discussing critical issues on a more open and wide platform. Yes, we have problems, but there is a hope that solutions could be found. Perhaps, it could be more better, if we don't have vindictiveness. Much still remains on the success of India in bringing a strong mechanism to deal with corruption as it may have far-reaching implications. One man though is expected to benefit most from the recent anti-corruption movement and its none other than The Prime Minister himself. While his popularity may have dipped during the seco…

India's Foreign Policy - Enlightened Self-interest

The ongoing anti-corruption movement has generated lot of discussions, debates, diverse opinions and huge media coverage. People are expressing their opinion on a critical issue of national interest more openly and on a public platform. We should hope that whatever happens now, will only strengthen Indian democracy. We will have much more clarity after a few days. Positive results on the domestic front, may also enhance Indian's influence on global affairs in the long run. 

Meanwhile, let's shift our focus on India's foreign policy. Powered by the economic and financial reforms, development of the IT sector and high growth rate, India  has been successful in changing the perception of the international community over the last few decades. India's approach at international level has also witnessed a strategic shift. Just a few decades back, arrival of each foreign dignitary was highlighted by the media. These days, only a passing reference is made to such visits with …

Trickle Down Effect

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Corruption is deep-rooted and spread across all levels of governance. Will the creation of a strong Lokpal in itself eradicate corruption? Will creation of additional layers of inspection and stronger laws in themselves eradicate corruption? Perhaps, No. But strong laws and a strong overseeing agency at the highest level may have trickle down effect at lower levels of governance. Is compensation announced for farmers paid on time? Do all those injured in railway accidents get prompt compensation?
Are complaints made to the civic agencies acted upon without much delay? Is our present education and judicial system free of corruption. Are complaints made to the Police acted upon immediately? The answer for the above and many other similar questions is most often No. The need for a stronger anti-corruption mechanism has to be assessed in the context of the above reality. 
While Team Anna's tough stand on passing of their version of the Lokpal may seem unjust at first instance, we mus…

Will Team India Resurrect the Lost Pride

Just a few months back, Indians were on the streets celebrating the Cricket World Cup victory. The growing fear of recession, rising food grain prices, a massive anti-corruption campaign and lackluster performance by Team India in the ongoing test series has put cricket on the back seat. The hosts have completely dominated the test series and dislodged India from the number one ranking in test matches. With rain obstructing the first day's play of the final test, it remains to be seen whether RP Singh and Ishant Sharma are able to break through the in-form and highly spirited English defense. And even if they, top four Indian batsmen have to fire to resurrect some of the lost pride.

Cautious Optimism

It was Anna all over India over the last two days and still continues to be so. The massive support for the 74 year old Kisan Baburao Hazare popularly known as Anna Hazare attracted attention of the entire world. Earlier the government (or the Delhi Police as they claim), which arrested Anna on Tuesday morning had to back down amid protests across the country and order his release. However, Anna agreed to come out of Jail only after authorities granted permission to fast at the famous Ramlila Maidan for 15 days. Many question his stand on the Lokpal bill issue, and Parliament's power to frame laws is not questionable. But Anna's real achievement has been the awakening of the Indian citizen. The signs of change, which I wrote about on Independence Day was at full display over the last few days. Thousands of citizens participated in a candle light march at India Gate demonstrating their support to fight against corruption. As I write, people are organizing protests across the c…

Different Rules, Avoidable blunder

Strange it may seem, but that is the reality we are living in. When political parties call for bandhs, they don't worry about the inconvenience caused to the public. And when an activist calls for a peaceful fast for a cause, which he believes to be significant, government or concerned authorities cite possible law and problem as reason to deny permission. Many do not agree with all of Team Anna's demands. Parliament is supreme and no one is questioning that. However, it's the government's attitude, which is a cause for concern. The Parliament did not function and Ministers conducted an hour long press conference justifying their action. Ask a lay man and the answer would be: "Whatever happened was avoidable."

65th Indian Independence Day and the Signs of Change

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As we Indians Celebrate the 65th Independence Day, we have much to be proud of the country's achievements. We are certainly more privileged than citizens of other countries in the sub-continent. We have been fairly successful in capitalizing the opportunities and adjusting to the changes in global dynamics. Over the last few decades, we have made rapid strides in several spheres.

This Independence Day assumes special significance in the context of the massive campaign against corruption. The change was visible in the Prime Minister's speech, which did not contain any reference to the Nehru's and the Gandhi's. Corruption is deep-rooted. Corruption has been one of the topics of essays in school exams for decades, and continues to be one. What has changed though, is the belief among people that 'change is possible'. While people may differ on the forms of protests and the mechanism of dealing with corruption, the awakening of the Indian citizen assumes tremendous …

Tribute

Over 30 years before Yahoo! revolutionized the way people communicate, the song Yahoo! sung by Mohd. Rafi created a flutter in the hearts of Indians. Perhaps, no other actor could have left such an impression and done justice to the song as the irresistible Shammi Kapoor. His unique style was a refreshing change for the Indian Cinema. We will never find another Shammi Kapoor, but he will stay on for ever in our hearts.

Repond to Art through Art

What causes people in a Democracy like India to be intolerant of diverse opinions. Why do they oppose films on important issues. Film makers and those opposing (non-political) it, both have valid points. Perhaps, the problem lies with the inability of those governing the country to resolve important issues. Governments must act promptly and resolve sensitive issues before they take a mammoth shape. On the other hand, we as citizens of the country must exercise restraint. If we don't agree on the views expressed in a film, why can't we respond to that through another film. We must learn to respond to Art through Art.

We are Better Different

We meet so many people in our daily routine. We connect with some, ignore others. We find similarities with some, and find some others awkward. We cherish the qualities of some, and criticize those of others. I mean to say, we meet people with attitudes, opinions, preferences, tastes, foibles and temperaments very different from ours. But ever wonder, that's what makes this world interesting. Life would have been so boring, if we all had shared the same characteristics.

Recession Blues

Shares have tumbled down over the last few days, following S&P's downgrade. Quite rightly, people fear another recession, similar to that which engulfed the world after the U.S Subprime lending crisis in 2008. 
However, stock markets do not always react logically, and many a times, the reactions are sentimental.  India has its own set of advantages. The country has the demographic advantage of younger population and has a large domestic market. Unlike other countries, India’s growth in the recent years has been primarily driven by the service economy, wherein cities have played a vital role. The future success story of India depends to a large extent on the growth of small towns and cities, which have limitless potential for investment.
So, we at India do not need to worry. But prudence lies in caution.

Indo-Pak Dialogue

Talks or no talks, engage or disengage, war or no war, dialogue or no-dialogue, Kargil or 26/11, Kashmir or infiltration, nuclear test or bus service, military rule or elected government, Dawood or Hafeez, cricket or no cricket, Indo-Pak relations are always a news. 
An attack leads to war rhetoric, a meeting of diplomats results in euphoria. 
News that sells, attracts public attention. The world looks on. Bizarrely, the result remains the same. Indira and Zulfikar, Rajiv and Benazir, Atal and Musharraf, Manmohan and Gilani. Two steps forward and 4 steps backward. India says ISI, Pakistan says RAW. New Delhi remains in dilemma and juggles between handling domestic pressure and its urge to be considered a responsible state in the global dynamics.
64 years after partition, 40 years after the last Indo-Pak war, 12 years after the Kargil war, 10 years after Parliament attack and Agra Summit, 32 months after 26/11, as the two foreign secretaries put it, we are still exploring each other.

Chhattisgarh - From a different Lens

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In the recent years, Chhattisgarh has caught the attention of the national media for a series of naxal attacks in the Dantewada district of the state. Here's a look at some of the positive developments in the state. Carved out of Madhya Pradesh in 2000, the state is now one of the fastest growing states of the country. More than 70% of the households are electrified. Last year, Mphasis opened a new Business Process Outsourcing (BPO) center at Raipur, the state capital. We can hope for further growth of BPO services in the state.
Bhilai, the  knowledge capital of the state is known for its regular contribution to the Indian Institutes of Technology (IITs). The town has witnessed emergence of many private schools and engineering colleges. The government has also set up a technical university in the town, which is set to further promote educational activity in the region. Similar developments are taking place in the state Capital, Raipur. The state is set to contribute substantially…