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Thursday, January 29, 2009

Slumdog Millionaire - Indians Don't Swear

I can't make up my mind, whether to call this moral policing or gross stupidity. Or maybe it is just a part of the hypocritical double standards we have or then again maybe people just do not want to open their eyes to reality.

Slumdog Millionaire opened in India last week in English and Hindi. The Censor Board of Film certification, in their wisdom have given an "Adult" rating to the English version and a U/A rating to the hindi version. Ostensibly the reason for this discrimination is the excessive usage of swear words in the english version. The swear words have been bleeped out in the hindi version.

Does it not sound like the censor board thinks that Indians don't swear at all. Yes, there are puritans in India who do not, but imagining that no one in India has ever used the swear words or have not heard a few from the non-puritan people is closing one's eyes too much. Especially when one talks of people living in the slums, well they are the ones who do not feel any social obligation to behave in a gentlemanly or lady-like manner.

Have these censor board people never been to school or college? If they have not that would explain a lot of things. But if they have and still feel that the Indian kids are blissfully ignorent or too innocent to know about or use swear words, these people are kidding themselves or are just abusing their power to project a holier-than thou image which everyone knows to be a farce. These people are no worse than the Ram Sene who attacked the girls and boys in the Mangalore pub. And these are the very people who dignify, by the misuse of their supposed legality and authority, acts of moral policing and social intolerance.

In any case there are enough swear words floating around in the Indian movies and on TV. Just that they may not be as 'dirty'. So there too we have drawn an imaginary line of discrimination. It's like, these swear words are okay and the others are not. A swear word is a swear word and is a reflection of anger, disgust or hatred. It hardly makes a difference what words are used as long as the feeling is conveyed. Why have this bias? It gets worse when a word is bleeped out from the TV serial or a movie, because then one imagines which swear word the actor used. That it takes out the fun from the scene as also disrupts the flow of the dialogue.

As it is a dubbed movie takes out the soul of the movie. When one starts cutting scenes or dialogues from the movie, it gets worse and the spirit in which the multitude of people worked for producing the movie is lost. There are millions of people who would want to see the english version but can not because their kids are too young to be left alone, they would be forced to see a second hand product, if at all they decide to see the movie. It does not matter even if their kids are using much worse swear words in their own lives.

There is a limit to which Government or society should go to, to control the lives of others. The puritans we are, no action has ever been taken to curb or ban or even legalise prostitution, but swear words, well they are not so difficult to handle. We can always close our eyes or ears and there you have it. We are a pure society. Aren't We?

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Mangalore Madness - A Threat To Freedom

The news channels as well as the news papers of the country are shamelessly covering the shameful event of Mangalore to no end. What happened in Mangalore is a major threat to the very idea of freedom. Freedom of any kind. Unfortunately this is not the first time the freedom in this country has been usurped by vested interests of some individuals, singly or collectively in a group. The politicians of the country and at times the law enforcement agencies in this country have time and again turned a blind eye to the perpetrators of such crimes and even when they have been forced to take action, which they have pretty reluctantly, they ensured that the guilty got away scot free.

How impotent can a nation and her citizens get? What kind of a constitution did our forefathers make that permits gross violation and abuse of the tenets of the constitution as well as the laws of the land? Fanatic groups based on region, religion, caste, creed, language etc have been allowed to fester in this land. All of them under the garb of freedom and choice. All of these groups have resorted to violence at some time or the other. Mangalore was just a repetition of the precedence set or rather allowed to be set by the politicians of this country who have been intransigent to such attacks on freedom of the citizens and justify their inaction citing all such incidents being an aberration. More and more people resort to taking the law in their hands because they have political patronage and are sure that nothing can happen to them.

The self styled moral policing is not limited to small unknown groups. We all saw what happened in Mumbai, the most forward city in this country, when it came to Public Display of Affection. The government itself was so concerned that the matter reached the courts and laws were passed to curb the PDA. These are all signs of an immature society which refuses to understand or accept the meaning of unbiased and unconditional freedom.

The lack of Political will was evident from the fact that the Police refused to arrest the President of the Sri Ram Sene, Mr Muthalik after the incident. When the public pressure mounted the man was arrested in connection with an earlier case. Mr Muthalik is so arrogant about his beliefs that he still feels that the incident was justified. Well meaning and innocent men and women assaulted for just being in a pub and Muthalik finds no cause for concern. Being the leader of an organisation Mr Muthalik is as guilty as the goons who carried out the attack. But our Government and the Politicians do not want to apply that logic lest someone holds them responsible for the everyday problems facing this country. I saw Muthalik's interview on TV and can say that his ideas, disposition and attitude was much more vulgar than the most vulgar scene ever shown on the Indian TV.

In the beginning I said, the News channels and papers shamelessly covered the incident. I said shamelessly because of two reasons:
The first being there was one shameless man or woman who was filming the entire episode and did not even attempt to help any of those girls and boys in distress. He/she happily went on videographing the incident for monetary or professional gains. Why is the media not identifying this reporter or person who himself was irresponsible and immoral enough to not even try to help those boys and girls? The media is now harping on someone else to do something about it. The news anchors putting up a disgusted face on the TV. Will someone remind them that one of their own was also standing their and doing nothing about it.Who will if they themselves do not really care?
Secondly all of us know that these small fanatical organisations and at times the big ones also thrive on publicity. Just like the terrorists more often than not the idea behind any act is to gain publicity and send some message to the society. Relentless coverage of the incident and and the people /organisations involved only helps further their cause. I think the media of this country should understand that. More so when all of us know that every news item is just another marketing tool for the media house.

India is getting out of hands. The politicians will not do anything to stop the erosion of the very fundamental rights of the citizens of this country. It is high time time the citizens started forming their own citizen groups to fight this internal terror and ensure their own safety.

Monday, January 26, 2009

The Politics of Awards

I had posted an article earlier regarding the Mumbai Attacks titled Gallant Soldiers Die Differently . The post discussed our failure as a society to understand the difference between loss and sacrifice, sympathy and 'pride'; innocence and valour. Today at the Republic day function the failure was legalized by presenting an award meant for Sacrifice, Pride and valour to make up for the loss, sympathy and innocence.

Awards have traditionally been the best cover-up for failures. No, I am not saying that all the personnel who get awards don't deserve them, In most cases they do. What I am saying is that if one wants to cover-up a bungled operation, negligence, failure the best thing is to turn the incident on it's head and then pretend that it was something that couldn't have been prevented and the incident would have led to much more death and destruction had the agency or agencies in question had not handled the situation with the efficiency and professionalism that they did. To create more hype these agencies recommend a few personnel for awards for their devotion to duty, bravery etc etc. I have seen it happening at lower levels but now, today, it has happened at the national level. What more proof do we need that India is developing?

11 personnel have been awarded the Ashok Chakra this year. 11, this is the largest number ever since independence, six out of these 11 are for the Mumbai attacks. So many medals have not been awarded even during the wars that India has had to face since independence. It clearly shows that the awards have also become victims of out nation's Politics.

Ashok Chakra is the highest peace time Gallantry award in India. As I watched, the TV and heard the summary of Citations for the awardees, I was ashamed at the senselessness of the Indian state. There were Jawans and officers from the Police and the Armed Forces who had single handedly fought and killed one or more terrorists. And then came the three from Mumbai, Karkare, Kamte and Salaskar. The summary of citations read out for the three were the same. I could make out that the citation did not reflect the reality and the only truth in the citation was that all that the three of them achieved together was, injure one of the terrorists. It finally took Tuka Ram Ombale to take five bullets in his gut to stop the mayhem that the two terrorists were causing. Thankfully Ombale was also given the Ashok Chakra for his effort. Compare the efforts of Ombale, or Major Sandeep Unnikrishnan or Havildar Gajendra Singh and these three. Do they deserve to be seen in the same light?

Are we not diluting the achievements and the sacrifice of the other awardees who genuinely deserve the award and did much more than these three? It is like the topper and the last person in the class both getting a gold medal. This only shows that we have not or are not capable of recognizing and appreciating the efforts of people. Where will the motivation come from the next time such a thing happens? Are we not incentivising mediocrity by giving awards to non-deserving people? Very soon people will start demanding awards since the precedence has been set. Anyone who does anything more than these three did will and in my opinion, logically so, cite these awards while demanding one for himself or for their son, spouse etc.

All three of them did and were doing a terrific job in their respective duties and were highly capable, no one can take away their due, but giving them Ashok Chakra for being victims of circumstances is not correct. Only because, it trivializes the achievement of others. But Indian Politics, being what it is , will not stop at anything to grab that possibility of even one vote. I am surprised that the other victims of the Mumbai attacks were not given Ashok Chakras.

Monday, January 19, 2009

Watch Barack Obama Inaugural Ceremony Live Online

Watch Barack Obama Inaugural Ceremony Live Online

You can watch the inaugural Ceremony of the 44th President of USA, Barack Obama being Sworn in on the 20th January 2009 at the US Capitol Live Online. Given below is the itinerary of the events that are planned:

The Inauguration Day 2009 Schedule:

Monday, January 19, 2009

National Day of Community Service Event
Time: TBD
Location: TBD

Concert for America's Children

Time: TBD

Location: Verizon Center

(The Concert will be free, but tickets will be required.)

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Swearing-In Ceremony
Time: 11:30 am
Location: US Capitol

2009 Inaugural Parade
Time: TBD
Location: Pennsylvania Avenue, NW

Commander-in-Chief's Ball

Location: National Building Museum
(This event is by invitation only. Those invited will include wounded warriors (Purple Heart Recipients), families of fallen heroes, and spouses of deployed military).



You can also Watch the Barack Obama Inaugural Ceremony live online at these links:
http://www.hbo.com/weareone/
http://www.hulu.com/spotlight/obamapresidency

Sunday, January 18, 2009

Millionaire Slumdogs

The movie Slumdog Millionaire released and as expected by many, walked away with honors at the Golden Globes and is likely to do as well at the Baftas and the Oscars. Suddenly out of nowhere came Amitabh Bachchan and slammed the movie for projecting India as Third World dirty underbelly developing nation and causing pain and disgust among nationalists and patriots. Strong words indeed, coming from a megastar and the doyen of Indian commercial cinema. Amidst uproar from all quarters Amitabh Bachchan denied his statement and claimed that he was misrepresented. He need not have done that.

What Amitabh said was right. It is a fact that the movie presents India in a poor light. Maybe his timing was wrong, but then, he was never a good politician, as history tells us. The slumdog phenomenon started a long time back with the Indian authors making it a success mantra. Dominique Lapierre started the phenomenon with A City of Joy. The book was a hit and so was the film. The smarter and the more famous lot of writers in India i.e. then Arundhiti Roy, Vikram Seth and now Arvinda Adiga recognized the potential of presenting India's misfortunes and have written about the misery, corruption, political muck and all that is shameful in India. Shobha De has also pitched in with her book Super Star India: From Incredible to Unstoppable. The formula is just go to any place in India and describe it. weave a story, to make it to the fiction category, around the description of the place and the people and there you have it, a best seller. A ready made best seller waiting to be sold.

The International community, read the westerners, have loved all these books and also recognized them with a showering of awards, like Booker Prize etc. So it is in the mentality of the western reader and viewer to appreciate all that is wrong about India. Why would they have that attitude? Maybe it is a shameful conscience of seeing or reading about such situations in India which moves them or maybe it is just a feeling of power or some kind of relative happiness that, they do not have to live through this kind of a life.

In the movie Munnabhai MBBS, Circuit (Arshad Warsi) tells a foreign tourist, "come with me, i will show you more, hungry people, poor people." The director and the script writer had unwittingly or by design reflected the marked interest of tourists from developed countries, to see the "underbelly" slums, poverty, hunger and everything else that is wrong in India.

Amitabh Bachchan should have made that statement when City of Joy was released. He should have voiced his concern when Arundhiti Roy won the Booker and then again when Adiga won the Booker. That would have been the right time to voice his concerns. When no one complained other Indian authors were loathe to follow. Vikas Swarup just saw the trend and wrote Slumdog Millionaire. Danny Boyle saw the opportunity, having understood the lure of westerners towards the misfortune of this country called India, and made the film. He was bang on target and the movie is doing well.

All these people starting with Dominique Lapierre made millions out of the abject poverty, hunger, social inequities, and all of India's negatives. They are the Millionaire Slumdogs. The live in the same slums that they describe in their books and make millions. But they would not leave these slums, they love these slums because that is where their millions comes from. Danny Boyle is just another one of these Millionaire slumdogs.

Saturday, January 17, 2009

Weight Loss Programs - Are They Really Successful?



Since its the beginning of a new year, I know that there must be many people out there who have made a resolution to lose weight. The first thing we all do is jump at a reasonable sounding weight loss program, hoping to lose the weight fast and without much effort on our part. But do you know the reason why all these programs fail in the long run? The moment you have lost all the necessary weight and are out of the program, you will promptly put them all right back!

Yes, it's happened to me twice already. And both the times, tried two different weight loss programs. And now I am on to my third weight loss program, again a different one. I am now asking myself the question, "Will this program help me to maintain my weight after I have finished with the required sessions?"

I have tried to analyze why the weight loss programs do not succeed in getting you to maintain your weight long after you have lost weight. I came up with the following reasons:

1. Their main focus is on "weight Loss" :-

For them you are a customer who is there to "lose weight" and so their main goal is to do just that, by hook or by crook. Their success rate depends upon how many people have managed to lose weight effectively and fast with their program, so that they can then advertise their so called success and get more clients. Its a "business" for them. They are not really concerned about whether you will maintain the weight after you leave them or not.

2. No "Customized" Diet plan:-

In both the weight loss programs I realized that the nutritionist had a "set" diet for each and every client of theirs with just a few minor variations here and there depending upon the medical condition of the person. The nutritionists do not bother about finding out what you are comfortable with eating and your habits. So, you will realize that you will be making "drastic" changes in your diet and eating things that you would have never ever tried before in your whole life. They will also name a lot of "exotic" sounding foods that probably are imported from somewhere else and which we (Indians) are not used to having in our daily diet either. So, you will end up spending double the money on your grocery bill which will only make you feel even more "guilty" (this is for women). You must realize that "guilt" plays a major role in why women do not like to spend money on themselves and most of the cases, that would be the main reason for her condition. Making such women spend more money will make them only feel worse and wonder whether they did a wise thing by signing up for the already expensive weight loss program.

3. No consideration for the "money" Factor:-

Again like I said in the earlier paragraph, as your diet plan progresses you will realize that the nutritionist is only making you spend money on extra things that may not be really necessary in the long run. Everybody has money constraints these days and we do need to watch our budget for the grocery bills, leave alone the fact that you have just paid 10 grand for the weight loss program. So, listen to the nutritionist and decide carefully what you really need and what you can do without. There are many cheap and effective substitutes for all kinds of diets, specially in India where we have so much variety in foods of all kinds.
Here, we should also remember that traditional Indian food that is home cooked in itself is quite healthy enough and so one doesn't really have to make many changes except to our pattern of eating and choosing the right combination of ingredients for a balanced meal. Therefore each time you need to spend money on something new added to your diet, ask yourself if you are willing to add this ingredient in your diet for the rest of your life? If you are not comfortable with it then simply look for a replacement that would be good enough and with similar properties.

For example;- The nutritionist told me to have lime water everyday in the morning. Now, Its not a big deal to have lime water, it's cheap and easy to prepare. What bothered me was that my teeth become very sensitive if I have lime water everyday and being a dentist I also know that lime gradually erodes the teeth which causes the sensitivity. (http://wiki.answers.com/Q/What_effect_does_lime_juice_have_on_teeth) So, I told her that I couldn't have lime water every day. Couldn't I just have a glass of warm water instead? That's what I used to have in the earlier diet plan. She says, no, have "barley water" instead.

Now, I have to admit that here in India we don't as a habit drink "barley water" and I can't see myself drinking it in the future either. Besides, "Barley water" needs to be prepared before you can drink it. Agreed that Barley is a good source of proteins and it does help in weight loss and reduce cholesterol too. But so does Oats. And I have already added that to my diet. So, I don't see why I need to add "Barley water" to it too! I shall stick to my glass of warm water in the morning, thank you!

4. "Unrealistic" Diet plans:-

The nutritionists will tell you the foods that will make you lose weight and add extra proteins and fiber to your diet. But, at times they can be "unrealistic". Like for example, a person who is used to eating rice as a staple diet (which is a case in India) will not be able to switch to eating rotis and stop eating rice completely. If they think that you will, then they are not addressing the real issue. It is but obvious that the person will go back to eating rice once the program is over and the weight will be right back.

So, if you want to lose weight effectively and be successful in maintaining it for a lifetime then there are some changes that are required in your diet and some that can be slightly modified to suit your needs. It is very important for you to recognize the changes that you think you "will" be able to bring into your diet and those that you absolutely "cannot". Strike a balance between the two in order get a more "realistic" diet plan. But, don't expect the nutritionist to do that for you because they measure success with a different yardstick.

Remember, every person is unique and we each have our own way of living life. Each person has a different body clock and degree of metabolism according to how active we are in our daily lives. So, our nutritional requirements will vary from person to person. Therefore, it is very important for you to figure out what kind of person you are and how many calories you could burn in a day effectively with the kind of exercise you are willing to do in the day. All these factors will determine your success in managing to maintain your weight once it is lost.

So in the end I have come to the conclusion that weight loss programs are a failure if they have not "taught" you how to maintain your weight in the future. Admit it, that was the main reason to go there in the first place.


Thursday, January 15, 2009

Watch Obama Inauguration Live Online Streaming Video

20 Jan 2009, Inauguration day, will be a historic day when Barack Obama will be sworn in as the 44th President of the USA. You can watch Obama Inauguration Live Online with Streaming Video totally free. The various links which will cover the Obama inauguration live online with streaming video are at

http://www.xomba.com/watch_obama_inuguration_live_online_streaming_video

Taare Zameen Par Brought Down To Earth At Oscars

Taare Zameen Par and Aamir Khan have been brought down to earth at the Oscars. Critically acclaimed, whatever it means, in India, the film and Aamir Khan were showered with accolades here in India but could not make it even to the last nine in the foreign langauge film category of the Oscars, out of 65 entries. That it made it to the 65 itself was possible because India was supposed to nominate one film and the wise men selected Taare Zameen par and any film nominated by India would be in the 65. So, no points for making it to the 65.

The rejection of the film at the first level itself signifies the standard of films made here in India. There are a lot of technical factors involved in making a film and I can say, without being in the Industry, that the Indian movies are a lot of unadulterated but sweet bullshit with lots of pretty faces going through the motions. Technicalities, if any, beyond the ones required for shooting the film are something which are dug up by the critics after the movie has been made. The critics themselves are totally clueless about what to look for in a film. If you pick up all the dailies in the country which carry reviews of the films, you will find atrocious differences in the ratings and reviews of the same film, which only substantiates my claim that the qualitative highs of a movie are picked up after the movie is released. If a movie had a particular strong point, wouldn't everyone notice it? In short more often than not the movie reviews in India are a bigger bullshit that the films themselves.

Read a sample review of the film Taare Zameen Par at
http://www.bollywoodhungama.com/movies/review/13306/index.html
Lots of adjectives and high sounding words and one small paragraph on the quality. And this by Taran Adarsh, one of the more noted critics in India. If some one wants only a good story, he/she would read a book from a library for a Rupee a day rather than spend Rs 250/- for three hours of watching a story.

After the news reached India, veteran film maker Subahsh Ghai says, "Dyslexia is well known in USA, so there is no issue for them not to select Taare Zameen Par." Hello! Just because a film's subject is good, it is not selected for awards. Okay, maybe it happpens in India, but not elsewhere. Coming from Subhash Ghai who has been in this industry for decades, it is evident what our film makers know about making films.

A film is a package deal. It has to be good on all fronts. A good face, semi-naked bodies, item numbers, rapes, slap-stick humour or just a good subject do not make a good film. Unfortunately, in India, since all films are trash, some succeed better than others for lack of choice. One billion people have to spend time and have some entertainment, so they go and watch a movie. The collections and grand openings do not have any meaning in such a scenario.

In a way it is good that Taare Zameen Par has not been short listed. It is a tight slap on the face of the incompetent industry and equally incompetent critics.

Do I really Have a Thyroid Condition? What Do TSH Levels Indicate?

This month, January 2009, is being celebrated as Thyroid awareness month and so I thought this is the right time to write about my own experience with my thyroid condition.

As I had written in a byte earlier, I have just joined a weight loss program with a goal to lose 10 kgs and that is how I discovered that I had high levels of TSH (Thyroid Stimulting Hormone).

I had been neglecting my health for a long time, more than a year, as I got busy with studying for my diploma course and working on Xomba, that I was not eating proper food and had stopped exercise altogether. I had always been regular with my evening walks before this and was generally fit and healthy, at least that's the impression I had.

As I had gained back 10kgs after my last weight loss program, I finally decided that I seriously needed to get down to healthy eating, exercise and losing weight. So, I joined a weight loss center and the doctor there advised me to get my routine blood tests done. She also suggested that I get my Thyroid tested for TSH, T3, T4 Levels.

I went to our hospital the next day and gave my blood samples for Hb, Lipid Profile, Blood sugar - fasting and post postprandial, and the Thyroid tests. I got the reports for all the tests the next day and they were all normal except for the Thyroid test.

The blood sample for the thyroid test had to be taken to another laboratory in another city and so it took 15 days for the report to come back. When I collected the thyroid test report after 15 days, I got a shock! My TSH level was high. The technician advised me to meet the endocrinologist to seek treatment for the condition.

My head reeled with the news. I was suffering from a hypothyroid condition and I just couldn't believe my eyes. I felt there had to be a mistake somewhere. So, to confirm the report I went to a private lab and repeated the test. I got the result one day later. The report still showed a elevated level of TSH but lower than the previous one. The earlier report said 29, and the later report said 20. In the meantime, I had already started with my diet and exercise routine and so I suspected that my body was responding positively to reduce the thyroid levels.

To confirm my theory, I read all about thyroid and its hormones and functions thoroughly and went to meet the Endocrinologist. I was not surprised when the endocrinologist just looked at the report and promptly wrote down the prescription for "Eltroxin" (hormone replacement therapy) which I had to take every day for the rest of my life, he said. I asked him if the condition was "reversible" and he said "NO". I asked him how was it that my level of TSH had gone down 9 units in just 15 days? To which he replied that "minor" differences are normal in reports from different labs.

Okay, I give him the benefit of doubt. I took the medicine prescribed, from the counter and went home. My T3, T4 levels were well within normal limits all the time.

I did some research to find out the reasons for the TSH levels increasing and found that there were many other physiological conditions that could cause similar symptoms and could elevate the TSH levels. Read about adrenal glands, lymphatic system, menopausal and perimenopausal symptoms and their effects on the health and well being of women.

Hypothyroidism in Menopause - a whole body perspective
http://www.womentowomen.com/hypothyroidism/thyroidandmenopause.aspx

Let this be a lesson to all women out there. Investigate and try to find out the cause of your thyroid condition before taking any medication. Read all about the Thyroid gland and its role in regulating the metabolism of your body in this website dedicated to the thyroid gland here:

http://www.thyroidawarenessmonth.com/
http://www.thyroidawareness.com/hashimotos.php

Read more of my articles here:
http://www.xomba.com/user/rawnak

To make money writing articles Join Xomba Click Here

Weight Loss - How To Prepare Yourself : Part 2

"Okay, so now we have finished with the tests. You are generally normal and some symptoms are obviously associated with your weight, so losing weight and exercise with proper diet control will take care of minor aberrations in your medical reports." Read http://kanwarpriya.blogspot.com/2009/01/weight-loss-how-to-prepare-yourself.html

Now you are ready for part 2 of the preparations.

Now, let's assume that you have been abusing your body physically and mentally for a long time by improper diet, irregular daily routines and other stresses of day to day activities. Stress of any kind can have adverse effects on the body, causing fatigue, exhaustion and sleeplessness. Stress affects the adrenal glands that is responsible for balancing many other hormones in your body. As a result, with chronic stress, adrenal fatigue develops and women end up with excess abdominal weight, decreased immunity, lack of concentration, irritability, disrupted sleep and ultimately pure exhaustion. But, the good news is that all of this can be reversed. All you need to do is make the proper choices in your food and exercise patterns.

I would encourage all the women who are suffering from these symptoms to read more about their condition and thus educate and empower themselves to know their bodies better. Read this article about the adrenal glands and the role it plays on your physical health and well being.

1. Adrenal Health in women
http://www.womentowomen.com/adrenalfatigue/default.aspx

2. Eating to support your Adrenal Glands - Small choices can make a difference
http://www.womentowomen.com/adrenalfatigue/adrenalglandnutrition.aspx

3. Adrenal Fatigue - Effects of stress and high cortisol levels
http://www.womentowomen.com/adrenalfatigue/effectsofhighcortisol.aspx

4. The Lymph system and your health
http://www.womentowomen.com/detoxification/lymphaticsystem.aspx

Now that you have read the above articles, I am sure that you will be able to identify your problem areas very easily. Knowledge is power. The answer to all your problems lie in "proper diet". So the second thing you need to do to prepare your body for weight loss is "nourish" your body well. Change your diet to include more proteins, vitamins and minerals by adding more fruits and vegetables. Refer to the Food Pyramid to select the right foods and prepare a balanced meal for yourself throughout the day. Start with a heavy breakfast, moderate lunch and a light dinner. Choose foods that are high in proteins and fiber content. Remember that all three meals should contain some proteins. You will need extra proteins to lose weight and to replace the excess fat with muscle tissue, so plan your diet carefully. You can take the help of a nutritionist for this purpose.

Start on your new diet straight away. By doing this you are providing "ammunition" for your body to get ready for the rigors of weight loss that are to follow soon. So, give yourself one month to change your diet and see the effects of that change on your body. In the meantime, you can start with light exercise that you are comfortable with. Remember, to fortify your body first with nutrients before you start with any kind of exercise.

You will realize that by simply changing your diet, you will begin to feel better and more energetic. Give yourself time to get used to this new diet as you will need to make this a new lifestyle. It's very important to take things one at a time and not add stresses to your body. So, NEVER jump into a weight loss program before you are prepared mentally and physically for the changes that are to come.

Once you are into the new diet and feel relatively comfortable with it and your body, start increasing your exercise routine to at least 1 hour of brisk walking everyday. Your body may show the signs and symptoms of fatigue and you may not be able to walk comfortably initially for a few days. So, take it slow, but DO NOT GIVE UP.

Keep at it. See if you can make this a routine. As the days pass, you will notice the positive changes that will be taking place in your body as it starts to heal and the process of detoxification takes place. Yes, the toughest part in all this is maintaining your diet and keeping it healthy. Make healthy choices wherever you go. And getting support from family and friends is very important, so include them all in your plans and let them know that you value their support.

Keeping a diet diary helps a lot in controlling those impulses to cheat. Write down all that goes into your mouth and the times as well. You will realize your weak moments and can then work towards overcoming those hurdles. One way to get past those moments are to keep fresh fruit handy always, so that any time you feel like putting something in your mouth, you can reach for the fruit instead. And remember to DRINK LOTS OF WATER!

Do all the above steps WITHOUT thinking about losing weight. You are only getting ready for that process! Once you have done the above and feel better about your diet and your body feels healthier and you are comfortable with some moderate exercise in the day, then and only then you should consider to start with a weight loss program.

All weight loss programs have the same principle. Reduce the amount of calories and fat from your diet and burn double the amount of calories in the day. So, your body should be prepared for the extra stress. If, you have already changed your diet and have started exercise then you have already won half the battle. Some people need the external push to succeed in their weight loss goals, for those people I would recommend that you sign up with some legitimate weight loss center that will help you in your weight loss goals, in a scientific manner.

Well, you are now on your way to losing weight effectively. Take the help of a nutritionist or any other weight loss programs that are scientifically sound and one that you feel comfortable with. Once you achieve your goals, then you will need to maintain your weight by continuing on your new diet and healthy lifestyle. Take supplements, if required, and with proper prescription. As much as possible, avoid taking "pills" that enhance metabolism for your weight loss program as they may have other side effects and you will only gain back all the weight once you are taken off the pill!

Another very important step is to measure or track your weight every morning same time before eating. This will surely motivate you to do the right things and make the right choices the whole day through.

Well, that's all I have learned from my own experiences with weight loss so far. Hope that I have been able to put things in a better perspective to help the people who are struggling with weight issues. ALL THE BEST!

Weight Loss - How To Prepare Yourself : Part 1

There are many people like me, I know who need to lose weight for a long time and while some people manage to go ahead and do it, others need a little push to get there. Losing weight is not a very easy task, specially for those people who have psychological reasons for putting on weight.

If you are one of those people who are overweight and have been toying with the idea of losing weight for a very long time then let me first warn you that you need to "prepare" yourself mentally and physically for the task ahead.

So, what do you need to do? Well, first and foremost you need to ask yourself some very tough questions mentally and be prepared to answer those questions very truthfully to yourself.

1. Why am I putting on weight?
2. Why do I eat irregularly?
3. Am I eating too much Junk food, or comfort foods?
4. How do I feel when I eat comfort food?
5. Do I get angry, or frustrated, or depressed very easily?
6. Am I ready "mentally" to start losing weight?
7. Will I get support from any of my family or friends to achieve my goals?
8. How much weight do I need to lose.
9. Am i ready to change my diet and lifestyle to a more healthier one?

All the above questions will indicate your psychological reasons for putting on weight. Most women who put on weight have some underlying psychological factors which cause stress and tension in their personal lives and this leads to the vicious cycle of turning to comfort foods, that makes them even more frustrated as they then begin to feel guilty and a complete failure. Life becomes very insecure for these women as they go down further and begin to lose self-confidence and self-esteem. This cycle is very difficult to break and requires tremendous amount of courage and self willingness to come out of it. Most of the women require external support to be able to get out of the depression, and eating habits and get rid of the stress in their lives.

So, prepare yourself mentally. Imagine the benefits of weight loss on your body. How good will you look? Don't you want a better shape and a healthier body? The more you think and visualize a thinner you, the more you will "want" to lose weight and be more committed to yourself. Remember, that you are doing this for yourself so that you can lead a better life, be more healthier and a happier person and feel good about it. It's very important to "feel good" about yourself.

You will also need to prepare yourself physically for this task. Weight loss techniques require you to drastically change your habits, eating patterns, lifestyle and a hectic exercise routine that will only add more stress physically and psychologically on your body. So, you need to prepare yourself well in advance for this extra burden.

How do you go about it? For a start, I would recommend that you first visit a doctor and get your routine medical check up done, to rule out any other underlying medical condition, that may be causing your obesity. Do all the routine blood tests like hemoglobin, blood sugar - Fasting and postprandial, Lipid profile and Thyroid tests for TSH and T3, T4 levels to rule out any thyroid condition.

Once you have cleared all the tests and established that everything is generally within normal range, and there are no serious underlying medical conditions to hamper your exercise routines, then you can go ahead to the next step of preparation. However, many people may discover underlying medical conditions that had not been detected before, like elevated cholesterol, or high blood pressure, or elevated blood sugar, and or thyroid condition. In any of these circumstances, it is very important, of course to first get treatment for those conditions before you can think about weight loss.

Okay, so now we have finished with the tests. You are generally normal and some symptoms are obviously associated with your weight, so losing weight and exercise with proper diet control will take care of minor aberrations in your medical reports.

Now you are ready for part 2 of the preparations.

Continued in Weight Loss - How To Prepare Yourself : Part 2

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The Year 2009 - A New Begining For India?

The Year 2008 ended on a dismal note for India with fear in all the citizens' minds. Most of the country did not celebrate the New Year's eve with as much gusto or happiness that has been seen in earlier times.

The year 2008 also had many highs and moments of pride for India : when our sensex was at its peak of more than 21,000 points in the month of January 2008, Indian sports saw many glories and records broken. M S Dhoni emerged as a winning captain for our team as we won one series after another defeating the all time Champions Australia and gaining the 2nd top position in the world rankings of Cricket. We won three medals in the Olympics this year, crowned by the Gold medal won by Anubhav Bhindra in the rifle shooting event. India launched its first satellite to the moon - Chandrayaan 1 successfully this year. Aravind Adiga won the booker prize for his book - The White Tiger. India signed the Civil Nuclear deal with USA. There were also many lows like the blasts that rocked the national cities of Jaipur, Bangalore, Ahmadabad and New Delhi and Mumbai claiming many lives.

Read all about these Highs and Lows that India went through in the Year 2008 here:
http://in.reuters.com/article/specialEvents1/idINIndia-37185120081227?pageNumber=1&virtualBrandChannel=0

http://www.goal.com/en/news/1263/india--south-asia/2008/12/31/1034746/2008-the-year-that-was-in-indian-football

http://www.india-server.com/news/year-2008-highlights-5330.html

The Year 2009 is here. The Year began with a blast. Yes, another bomb blast in Guwahati in India's north-eastern state of Assam, killing at least five people. Read all the details here:
http://www.thestatesman.net/page.news.php?clid=1&theme=&usrsess=1&id=238599

This doesn't sound like a very promising start for India as yet once again the cause of these blasts were attributed to lapses in security. Indian Government's response to this situation is to appeal to Bangladesh to take care of the terrorist camps in their soil.

I am angry now. Is this the only response a big democratic country like India, (who has one of the biggest defense forces in this region) can give to the world at large? Why are we dilly-dallying? Even as we speak, there are news reports of some terrorists being holed up in J&K in some solid bunkers fighting and resisting our armed forces in combat. They say it may end up being a long battle??? Jammu and Kashmir is our own territory and yet we are not sending in our Air force planes to bombard the terrorist's bunkers? Why is it so difficult to smoke out all these unwanted elements from our soil? Why are we not acting tough?

The Indian Government has yet again disappointed the armed forces by declaring the 6th Pay Commission. The Prime Minister announced a higher pay packet to the Lt. Colonels, but with a "condition" attached to it that makes no sense whatsoever and defeats the whole purpose altogether. He has rejected the other two demands of pay parity and status issue of the Lt.Generals with the civil counterparts. He has also announced that there will be a separate pay panel for the defense forces in the furture, but that's another ten years away!

http://www.telegraphindia.com/1090102/jsp/nation/story_10332637.jsp

http://www.ndtv.com/convergence/ndtv/story.aspx?id=NEWEN20090078431

http://www.hindustantimes.com/StoryPage/StoryPage.aspx?sectionName=Cricket&id=f248f0b5-1815-43d4-8e8e-f938241b5d65&&Headline=PMO+approves+new+pay+panel+for+armed+forces

http://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/India/Armed_forces_all_set_for_pay_hike_/articleshow/3877079.cms

The Year 2009 doesn't sound too promising for all the Citizens, Politics and the Defense Forces in India.

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Satyam Bailout? Killing The Truth

The Satyam fraud seems to have come at a real bad time. The economic scene in India was taking a turn for the worse, despite the Government telling everyone that the Indian economy was fairly insulated. Two stimulus packages and three rate cuts later, the Government was still going on about the insulated economy when Ramalinga Raju decided to wake up the Government.

Shaken up, the Government is, at the moment, what with the general elections staring down on them. Add to that the state assembly elections in Andhra pradesh, where Satyam is based, their woes have been compounded.

Initially there were a lot of bold statements from the ministers about Satyam being a corporate matter and not having to do anything with the Political governance, now murmurs have started about a potential bailout package by the centre. Does Satyam really merit a bailout? Or will it be just an exercise in killing the truth?

The politicians of this country have as usual confused the term bailout. Bailout is the act of offering, loaning or giving capital to a failing business in order to save it from bankruptcy, insolvency, or total liquidation. Bailout by a Government in power is normally given to a company to prevent greater, socioeconomic failures which might directly or indirectly affect the welfare or the security of the country.
In most cases the bailout is offered or contemplated in view of failing markets which lead directly to losses to the companies to such an extent that survivability of the company is threatened. It is neither advocated nor contemplated as a result of fraud or malpractices which lead to failure of a company.

Satyam was a fraud as admitted by none other than the CEO of the company as well as the higher management of the company. Let us see who all are affected by it's failure. First the investors. In my opinion trading in shares and stock is akin to gambling. People loose money over gambling everyday, there are so many lottery schemes sponsored by the state where people invest their hard earned money and loose it. Should we be bothereed about such people and their losses? Similarly there are so many casinos and illegal 'Satta' schemes, horse racing and betting syndicates flourishing. People loose money here too. Should we be bothereed about such people and their losses? The investors of Satyam, retail as well as the institutional ones, indulged in gambling, they lost their money to fraud. Should we really be bothereed about them, especially since there are so many other market players who loose money everyday trading shares. No Sir, we shouldn't be bothered about them. They don't split their profits with the Government and more importantly the taxpayers of the country. Then why should the Government even consider using the taxpayers money on reviving a company which reeks of corruption, malpractices and is a victim of high level fraud. Unless, of course, our politicians and bureaucrats have a stake in it.

Next comes the question of the employees. Satyam has about 53,000 employees globally. I would say the figure is trivial considering that the general unemployment rate in India hovers close to 10%. In any case, due to the tough economic scenario, even if the company had not failed as badly, the first step Mr Raju, the CEO would have taken was to downsize by cutting employees. Would the Government have bothered about the employees in that case. Even though no major incidents of large scale firing have been reported, fact is that Pink slips are being handed out by various companies on a regular basis. Why is the Government not bothered about that.

National Security, don't even talk about it. Satyam was and is never going to be a threat or otherwise be of any help as far as the matter of National Security is concerned.

Next is welfare and the socio economic affects. As I said earlier 53,000 is not a large number and will be easily absorbed by the other biggies, like Wipro, Infosys, L&T etc. Most of the work Satyam was doing was for foreign companies. That work also will be gladly taken over by the other companies and that indeed will be a better way of restoring customer confidence than trying to rebuild a failed organisation. In any case, in the larger perspective the customers will keep coming to India for the primary reason of low costs. It was definitely not the quality standards which was the drawing power of Satyam. Hell, Satyam is not even the biggest outsourcing company in India. Why are we concerned?

In my opinion, Satyam should be allowed to take it's downward spiral to a logical conclusion and the government should not be even thinking of a bailout. It is the hard earned money of innocent and honest taxpayers which is at stake here. The bankers and the other companies know much more about Satyam and the way they conducted business. If these people are not in favour of taking over or investing any further in the company, the government has no business to use the taxpayers money in a gamble which may just fall flat on it's face.

Bailouts have a downside also. It might just become a precedence and an incentive for other companies to lower their business standards since the risk capacity of the company will go up in the light of enhanced security nets created by the option or the knowledge of a bailout. It will also get more of a Governmental control in the corporate sector which, I am sure no one wants. Bailouts will also signal an era of forced tax collection, just like we have cesses and surcharges in each budget. I am sure no one wants that.

Let us say it once again. Satyam was a fraud perpetrated by unscrupulous, dishonest people with a criminal intent. Forget Bailout. Let Satyam Die, but keep the Truth alive.

Ah! The Joy of Collective Responsibility

A friend of mine once told me about the futility of Collective Bullshit. He was talking in terms of a boss bullshitting his subordinates collectively. He said, “It is simple, whenever the boss is bullshitting collectively, one needs to just look at some other person in the group and the entire bullshit gets deflected to that person.” In other words, everyone looks at some other person as if that person is the culprit and that way every one can keep his/her own conscience clean.

The same holds true for collective responsibility also. Let’s take, for instance, the Mumbai terror attacks. When the question of responsibility came up everyone right from the Home minister of India, the chief minister of Maharashtra, the deputy Chief Minister and Director General of Police and the Mumbai Police commissioner refused to acknowledge their responsibility. The Home Minister of India had to be forced to resign by the congress part and did so very reluctantly, as did the Chief Minister and his deputy in Maharashtra, who had till then, quite vocally asked what purpose their resignations were going to serve.

When the question of intelligence came up, all intelligence agencies claimed that some intelligence was passed on to the state much before the incident. The state authorities in turn derided the statements saying that even though the intelligence had been received it was un-actionable. As a result we still don’t know who is saying the truth and after so much time has elapsed, frankly, no one could care less as to who did or did not do what. Essentially what emerges is that it was a collective responsibility of many organizations to take action in accordance with their charter and since each one of them failed to do their duty, no one can actually be held responsible. That is what collective responsibility is.

The story is being repeated with the Satyam fraud. So many auditors, bankers, market regulators, bureaucrats in the ministry of Corporate affairs and Politicians at the centre as well as state level were responsible to ensure that such a fraud does no take place. Once the fraud has been detected, oops, declared by the Satyam head honcho Mr Raju, everyone seems to be looking at the other person implying that they themselves were not responsible. Conclusion, no one was responsible for this fraud other than, of course, the fraudster himself.

At times it looks like so many agencies or organizations are raised just to take advantage of this queer phenomenon of collective responsibility. Even though, on the face of it, the different organizations are meant to offer multi layered protection in some cases and at times vertically specialized support system, none of them are serving any purpose other than pursuing a blame game after they have all failed in carrying out their assigned duties. The answer is simple if everyone is responsible, accept it with a pinch of salt and declare everyone innocent. That serves the purpose of all the parties involved as well as the Government.

The pre-requisite of this game is to display tremendous shock and disbelief at the occurrence of the event and act as if the man who masterminded the scam or the attack was much more resourceful and smarter than what those responsible were either trained for or were capable of. Next, blame a sister organization, who is to immediately scoff at the suggestion and throw the blame back at the originator of the blame. The originator in turn is not supposed to talk of the original blame and is only to scoff and deride the counter blame by the sister organization. The sister organization in turn does not respond to the derision and the scoffing and is to blame a third organization, just to confuse the issue further. It goes on for about four to five days which is the empirical time limit for a citizen’s patience who finally says, forget who is responsible, and just take some action. At this instance the Government steps in forms a committee to look into the matter. In most cases the committee members expire before the committee does. It works like a charm every time.

Ah! The Joy of Collective Responsibilty.

Monday, January 12, 2009

Satyam Fraud, Mumbai Attacks - The Common Factor

Satyam Fraud, Mumbai Attacks! It may surprise some, using the two incidents in the same line or the same breath. Fact is, irrespective of how different the two incidents might be, they have affected many people across the board. So what is the common factor that the two have?

Complicity and/or connivance of Government agencies including Politicians, bureaucrats, bankers, regulatory agencies, enforcement agencies, intelligence agencies and whatever else one can think of. Essentially, both were classic example of failure of Governance, one political and the other corporate.

After both the incidents happened everyone feigned ignorance and indulged in shameless blame game. It happened in the case of Mumbai Attacks and is happening right now in the case of Satyam. If Mumbai attacks were not a lesson in importance of coordination and joint efforts, the State and the central governemnt are hell bent on stealing the thunder and making any kind of investigation impossible. First the state Police refused to arrest Raju for lack of a complaint against him. The time afforded to Raju was sufficient for him to destroy or get rid of important evidentiary documents, much in the same manner Pakistan allowed JuD and LeT to transfer their funds before seizing and freezing their bank accounts. Then, a day before the day SEBI team was to interrogate Raju, the Satyam head honcho, the Andhra Government apprehended Raju making it impossible for SEBI team to do their work.

The State Police has openly admitted that they do not have the resources to investigate this kind of a fraud, then why is the state not allowing the central authorities like SEBI, Registrar of companies etc to investigate. The Chief Minister is willing to hand over the case to CBI, an agency known to be dragging its feet on the simplest of the cases. It is a clear cut case of someone trying to shield Raju.

In a classic case again of trying to control damage or brush things under the carpet, Raju put another member of his flock, Ram Mynampati as an interim CEO, a man who it appears got Rs 3.5 crores in salary in 2008. Obviously Mynampati must have been in the thick of things. Now the Centre has stepped in and appointed "their own" men Deepak Parekh, HDFC chairman known to be working with the governmnet in various Policy matters, Kiran Karnik, a Director in another one of Satyam's subsidiary and C Achutan who handled the Ketan Parekh scam, obviously after it came to light. The three of them are obviously going to do what hurts the Government the least and maybe also ensure that no governmnet complicity ever surfaces during the investigations.

After the Mumbai attacks, the citizens came out in hoards to voice their protest about the failure of the Government and the bureaucracy. Why are the citizens not making any noise now? Or are they waiting for the TV channels to cover the event live before they wake up and start shouting 'Enough is Enough' again?

Friday, January 9, 2009

Sanjay Dutt - Right Man For Politics

There was a news item recently that Sanjay Dutt would be the candidate of the SP (Samajwadi Party) from Lucknow in the forthcoming elections. It is hardly surprising. The Political Parties in India are only interested in winning seats, they couldn't care less about the eligibility and the background of the person. Anything as long as the person can get in the votes. Considering that Sanjay Dutt is the right man for politics.

Sanjay Dutt, by Indian standards of Politicians is highly eligible for contesting elections.

He does not have any college degree to boast of.

He does not have any background in Politics.

He has been a drug addict in his younger years.

He has been convicted and sentenced to 6 years RI under the Arms act( Rigorous Imprisonment ) in the 1993 Mumbai Blasts case. Everyone knows that his acquittal under TADA was largely influenced by his sister Priya Dutt, MP of the congress party and her association with Sonia Gandhi.

What else does one need to become a politician in India.

The Samajwadi Party, despite knowing that under the Representation of the People Act, anyone sentenced to more than two years' imprisonment is barred from contesting elections till a court of law stays the conviction and sentence, has announced him to be their candidate. This could only mean that the Party, in cohorts with the Congress, is very sure that they would be able to get a stay on the conviction and sentence from the Supreme court.

This is just another example of the blatant disrespect our politicians and the political parties have for the laws of the land.

Wednesday, January 7, 2009

Satyam Fraud - Collective Failure Of Governance

Satyam - the word means truth in Hindi. The company sure did not live up to its name. The Chairman B. Ramalinga Raju’s has admitted that Satyam Computer Services Ltd’s Balance Sheet was manipulated rather fabricated had its usual effect on the market, the sensex went on a downhill slide and no one knows where it will stop. It is a fraud worth Rs 50 billion, no mean amount.

In the long run, the Satyam fraud will have long reaching consequences on how the markets operate, corporate governance as well as the attitude of Foreign investors in India. On the face of it, only Satyam looks to be the culprit. But, believe you me, it is a collective failure of the governance, government institutions and the bureaucracy which controls everything.

As is the case with all the ministeries, who have insulated themselves from everything that goes on in the country and only act when the deed is done, the ministry of Corporate affairs has woken up and called the Satyam fraud a shameful thing. Whether the ministry is including itself in part of the shame is easy for any one to guess. The ministry official added that "All regulators and government agencies will make coordinated efforts to get to the bottom of the Satyam wrongdoings, the official said, adding that the 'company management not been fair to the shareholders'." What is this statement supposed to mean? When the Chairman of the company has admitted to the fraud, one does not need to get to the bottom of things. He will tell everything himself. The ministry ought to have been proactive and done something, while the company was undertaking the fraud, to protect the interests of the shareholders.

The Securities and Exchange Board of India ( SEBI )has termed the fraud as horrifying and promises to take all actions as per the law. Hello! The SEBI is the market regulator and is supposed to be on top of things happening in the stock market, not only for taking action as per the law. The SEBI is required to inspect the books of all the companies, why did they not come to know about the Fraud.

PricewaterhouseCoopers were the auditors for the company. What kind of audits have they done in the preceeding two years? Why did they not point out the irregularities to the Board of Directors? That can happen only if the auditors were also glove in hand with the company in conducting the fraud.

Next come the bankers to the company. Bank of Baroda, BNP Paribas, ICICI, HDFC, Citi Bank, HSBC all big players in the Indian banking sector. How come none of them scrutinize the balance sheets of their big customer? Or were they also aware of the gory happenings within the Satyam Accounts department.

What about the credit rating agencies? Even they have been giving thumbs up to Satyam for a long time. Were they not aware of the irregularities? Or are they too dumb and irrelevant to bother checking and understanding a company's accounts?

What did the Government and the various regulatory authorities in India do when they came to know of the $1 Billion lawsuit against Satyam early 2007 filed by UPaid Systems, American based mobile and online payment specialist. The charges were, no pints for guessing this one, Fraud and Forgery. Satyam tried their level best to stay the proceedings but failed miserably at all levels and the case will go to trial this year. This does confirm that there was some kind of tenebility in the case. Even this case did not prompt any one in India to look up the books of Satyam.

In October last year the world bank banned Satyam for malpractice, that is, for installing spy software on the world bank computers. Even that did not wake up any one in India.

The bigger question here is whether this is the way the Indian Economy has been growing all these years? What about the other companies? Maybe they also have been inflating their balance sheets in a bid to enter and grow in the International markets. All this while people have been citing the example of corporate governance to remedy the malady which our political governance has. What do we do now, now that our corporate governance has also failed.

Tuesday, January 6, 2009

Gallant Soldiers Die Differently

Received this post in a viral mail. Excellent write up by Karan Kharb. Must read to understand the divisive and vote bank politics working in our country. Surprising that the media also toes the same line.

It is often said that in democracies people get the government they deserve. What is even truer is that they also get the quality of security they deserve. Is there a difference in 'loss' and 'sacrifice'; 'sympathy' and 'pride'; 'innocence' and 'valour'? We all know there is a qualitative difference and the value of 'commission or omission' in performance becomes vivid and clear in events involving high risks.

There should therefore be an appropriate qualitative difference in the Nation's way of conveying its gratitude or sympathy through grant of honours and awards for the sacrifices and assistance to bereaved families.

Here are a few points to mull over:-

1. Innocent Casualties.

Hemant Karkare and his 'Quick Reaction Team' of ATS encounter experts - eight of them in a police Qualis - were surprised, waylaid and butchered without being allowed to use their weapons by two terrorists on prowl in Mumbai on 26 November.

* In this case Hemant Karkare and his team were not aware of the danger lurking on them and therefore they were surprised.
* Their lack of training did not allow them to anticipate and react with operational swiftness.
* The poor quality of weapons could be questioned only if any of them had tried to use whatever they had. Going by their stance, it was unlikely that they would have used MP-5 or AK-47 even if they had these weapons on them.
* Prior to commencing their move, the leader had apparently not carried out analysis of the situation at hand; no quick plans or operational drills seemed to exist; no instructions passed; no contingencies visualized.
* Unfortunately they do not appear to have been vigilant on their way. Given the situation they were reacting to, any professional police officer would be prying for tell-tail signs or traces of the terrorists loitering in the town.
* Much like the hapless unfortunate 187 civilians, they fell to terror bullets most innocently. They deserve our deep sympathy and heartfelt condolences.
* Whereas there is a crescendo in media hype about their heroism, not a word has been said by anyone about how they 'fought heroically.' Sorry to state the harsh truth that they fell due to their inaction and inadequacy of combat readiness.

We pray to God to bestow eternal peace upon them and grant fortitude to the bereaved families they have left behind. Their families, friends and everyone who knew them shall reminisce their gentleness with fondness! They deserve our care and compassion. Hopefully, correct lessons will be subsequently learnt after the Mumbai Police carry out a dispassionate case study of the happenings.

2. Unsung Heroes.

Capt AK Singh, a daring young officer of 51 Special Action Group (NSG), led his team into the Oberoi Hotel. He zeroed on to a room at 18th Floor from where the terrorists were throwing grenades. He closed in towards them risking his life without firing to avoid killing innocent occupants, if any and, after making sure there were only one or two terrorists in the room, he kicked open the door and lobbed a grenade. Almost simultaneously, the other terrorist threw a grenade that came in the way of AK Singh charging in to kill or capture the surviving terrorist. The hostile grenade burst almost in the face of the Commando Captain giving him multiple injuries. He fell unconscious but not before wiping out the terrorist. A number of splinters have been taken out of his body by the doctors of ' Bombay Hospital ' but they could not save his left eye through which a splinter tore through to embed itself deep inside. No TV channel, no newspaper reporter, no politician, no Shiv Sena………. Not anyone even from the Oberoi Hotel management has had the courtesy to visit this real hero who dared and indulged in deadly duel and combat killing the deadly killers.

3. Supreme Sacrifice.

Major Sandeep Unnikrishnan arrived with his team at the most crucial site where the savage bloodbath was already on. Unlike Hemant Karkare, Sandeep was fully conscious and aware of the magnitude of danger to the innocent civilians entrapped inside and to himself.

* He knew where the terrorists were, how much damage they had already caused and what devastating potential and unhindered shooting spree they were on.
* Like a professional, he quickly studied and analysed the situation and visualising the gravity of the risk involved, he ordered his team not to come forward until he silenced the terrorist shooting from behind cover.
* Since saving innocent lives was the most important part of his mission, he did not enjoy the freedom his opponents in shooting and bursting grenades at will. Yet he chased them.
* He valiantly pursued the terrorists until he fell in the gun battle that ensued. His team quickly followed and, after some tough hide and seek drama, they neutralised both the terrorists in an engagement that saved the remaining innocent lives in the building.
* Major Sandeep Unnikrishnan gave his life but saved many others. He knew what he was facing and yet he dared. This was a sacrifice with a difference which invokes not sympathy but pride and inspiration; courage and dedication; honour over safety. His death triumphed over an evil; choosing to die differently for a cause, Sandeep immortalised himself!

Major Sandeep Unikrishnan's valour will continue to inspire many soldiers, commandos, constables and civilians. We are proud of such gallant soldiers in our Special Commando Forces and our Armed Forces who always step in when those who run the administration or Prashashan routinely during happier times beat a quick retreat and become invisible leaving the police and the army to deal with the dangers. Their brief? 'Retrieve the situation and make it safe and cool enough for me to resume my bureaucratic control.' No accountability, no risk and yet all pelf and perks served on and under the table!

The upsurge of popular outrage against the politicians as a class is not misplaced. But in this rage public is missing the wood for the trees. What is role and accountability of those who call themselves CEOs of the cities, towns and districts – the magistrates, the Babus, the Brown Sahibs? They must answer some tough questions too.

The soldier today, alas, is not being treated with the love and esteem he deserves as our saviour.

Sadly, quite often he is insulted – look how:-

* Our media and TV viewers go euphoric over a sixer by a cricketer and eulogise him. Chief Ministers and governments lavishly shower crores of rupees on such players.
* Abhinav Bindra wins a Gold Medal in Olympics and gets Rs 3 Crore plus a host of high value commercial ads and bounty rolls on booming like a snow ball.
* India's economy, security or international standing is not least affected even if we lose hundreds of such medals and matches. But can we afford to lose one Kargil or Mumbai to our enemy?
* Lives lost by ticket less riff-raff illegally travelling on roofs of train or in fires in illegal colonies get rewarded much in the same measure as our soldiers who sacrifice their lives fighting to save us.

Think over and compare the value of Rs 5-10 lakh for a soldier's supreme sacrifice against the most triumphant cricket player or a pigeon shooter at Olympics! Do we deserve the selfless devotion to duty and sacrifices of our gallant soldiers and commandos like Sandeep? Don't we owe our soldiers a little more love, honour and respect than we do to our sportsmen and entertainers?

Please circulate if you agree........

Who Killed The Pedestrian?

In yet another incident of a road traffic accident an 83 year old gentleman was killed by a 15 year old driving a motorcycle. The boy obviously did not have any license. The boy was let off on bail and the Police was still to decide whether the charges should include culpable homicide not amouhnting to murder. I fully sympathise with the family of the deceased and agree to the offence of the boy. But there are other aspects to this case which obviously our much enlightened society will not bother about.

The pedestrians in this country are a lawless breed. In fact, if one permits, i would like to term them as walking terrorists. Everyday these lawless people terrorise hundreds and thousands of motorists on the Road. The irony is that while the motorists are paying road tax, the pedestrians do not and still use the road blatantly. To add to it everytime a motorist hits or even nudges a pedestrian, he not only has to bear the brunt of the public but also face the law.

The pedestrians in our country can also be compared to stray animals who roam our streets without fear of law or God. The reason being we do not have any laws which prevent the pedestrians from being indisciplined on the roads, the west calls it jaywalking. How can the government bring in laws for jaywalking when they do not have footpaths, sidewalks, pavements or whatever one calls them? How can they have laws against crossing the roads, when they do not have sufficient zebra crossings or foot over bridges to allow people to use them? How many times has a pedestrian been blamed for causing an accident or being responsible for his own death? Why is it that every single time it is the motorist who gets blamed for the accident?

I do not know the circumstances of this particular case, but in most cases of road accidents the pedestrians are on the road, a place they have no business to be at. Under these circumstances even the most reasonable, careful and efficient driver may fall prey to such an accident and the poor man or woman has to face the wrath of the Police and the lopsided laws or lack of them.

A few days back I had written about Salman Khan driving an auto after having some drinks. Just because nothing happened that night, Salman Khan roams freely despite the news being reported by a leading newspaper of our country. Hell, he roams around freely even after actually killing people a few years back, driving again, in an inebriated state. Even in that particular case People of our country have no business sleeping on pavements.

Who afterall is responsible for pedestrian deaths in road accidents? In a system which has the necessary infrastructure and regulations in place, we can blame the motorist for the accident. However when the pedestrians are as irresponsible as those in India, the cases need to be investigated thouroughly. Most of all it is the State Government and the Municipal corporations who should be held responsible for not providing infrastructure to the pedestrians to move safely and for not having laws which prevent the pedestrians to behave in an irresponsible manner and expose themselves and the motorists to risk.

It is high time the Government and the bureaucrats woke up to their own responsibilities rather than being only judgemental on the behaviour of others. The poor boy's act which would at best have been termed as a minor misdemeanour is now being considered as a culpable homicide. Maybe it is another life destroyed because of the intransigence and immaturity of our Government which has refused to improve anything that the Britishers left us with about sixty years back.

Monday, January 5, 2009

Professionals Party of India - PPI - First Thoughts

The Professionals Party of India is the 232nd political party of India. The party has been conceived and formed by a group of professionals based in Pune. The party is registered with the Election Commission of India and is striving to fight elections on the basis of the, till now largely untapped, potential of the middle class of India. The official website of the Professionals Party of India or the PPI is at http://www.ppi.net.in/

The concept behind the party is a long cherished one amongst the Indian educated class, who know for sure that things could be better. It is a move in the right direction and if it succeeds it could turn the fortune of the country towards the better overnight. The party has indeed made the right statements on their blog and in their manifestoes. However, implementation of the ideas and the concepts is something which is a different ballgame altogether. I have not interacted with any of the members and my only touch with the Party is through their website, which can be a lot more professional, considering it belongs to the Professionals Party of India.

First, the party’s vision and the mission statement, as reflected through their website, though profound are too bare to be understood even by the middle class, their target group. “Improve the Quality of Life of every Indian.” In terms of what? How does one define quality of life? What are the aspirations of the average middle class Indian? No one has the time or the inclination to go through their election manifestoes. Especially since the party is still in infancy.

The blog of the party at http://professionalspartyofindia.blog.co.in/ has all of three posts between 11 April and 10 Dec 2008. So many issues have cropped up their head during this period and the party could have utilized these occasions to highlight their stand on the issues and their proposals as to how to tackle the issues. The Party does need to work rapidly on the blog and have it updated regularly. The blog also can be an excellent source of revenue for the fledgling Party.

The Youth Forum link on the website is not active, which is a strict no-no for any website. The newsletter link shows a http 404 error which, again, is a bad news.

The website has a ‘contact us’ link which offers registration of visitors with the website to facilitate serving of news updates and newsletters. Another contact link is offered on the core group page, ppipune@gmail.com, which visitors to the website can use for further information. It would serve them best to at least have a domain based email address to lend authenticity to the address. The contact us page should have the contact address where visitors can actually contact their PR cell for questions and queries. The website has employed a tool for registered users to introduce or refer friends and relatives who can in turn be contacted by the website. The feature is available on the citizens connect link and restricts referrals to five. The link needs to be more visible and why would anyone want to restrict propagation to five referrals per registered user. The entire process can be automated where an email is sent directly to the referrals.

I did not try hard enough, but from whatever little I did, I could not find the Party presence on facebook or myspace. The registered users should be encouraged to write on the web about the good things that are happening in the party including their own work. If the party is planning to contest elections this year they hardly have any time and should take up publicity on a war footing. The friends of the PPI boast of Remo Fernandes; I could not find a link to PPI or any word on PPI on the official website of Remo Fernandes http://www.remomusic.com/ Ditto with Mrs. Lila Poonawalla at her website http://www.lilapoonawalla.com/ PPI does not need such friends who only render lip service.

Even though I fully agree, that at this point of time, the Indians need the Professionals Party of India much more than the Party needs us, they still need to attract people. At this moment, the web is their strongest instrument and ally and they need to use it to their advantage.

In the end I would suggest that a party with such a name and intentions should not let professionalism fall by the wayside. Just doing good work is not enough, projection is equally important. Everything and anything they do should reflect professionalism else they will just become another one of the numerous parties of the country.

Sunday, January 4, 2009

Indian Government - Gandhi's Three Monkeys Personified

Gandhi had a rule for people to follow to be good; See No evil, speak no evil and hear no evil. The phrase has often been used to describe people who do not want to get involved in a situation. Gandhi even had three monkeys to depict the rule. Monkeys that they already were, the behaviour of the Indian politicians and the government is akin to the phrase except that they seem to have taken the rule one step further. They have stopped seeing and hearing completely and are speaking only mildly without any malice and without any evil.

What else does explain their inconsequential mutterings on the Indian war against terror? Pakistan has blatantly switched statements, opinions and stances based on their convenience and more than 40 days after the Mumbai attacks, the Indian government is still crying foul and running here and there to any world leader of significance who is willing to give them a listening ear. The government wants the world community to act, rather than do something themselves. Can't blame them, they are so used to the kind of politics we play in India, that they are applying the same rule to International politics. Without a 'Whip' issued to the party members, no Indian party ever voted in Parliament.

On the other hand America, the self-professed leader in the war against terror, has also played to the galleries both in India and Pakistan. Ever wonder why American leaders come to India first and then move on to Pakistan? It is so that they can make the politically correct statements in India and then back away from the same or tone down their stance when they visit Pakistan, to placate them. The Americans surely know which side of their bread is buttered at least as far as their war on terror is concerned. India however continues to invite Americans to India and go through the irrelevant exercise of making statements to the media which have little consequence as to the action on ground. Hasn't the Government of India and our esteemed leaders realized the double faced nature of the American state? If all the visits by the Americans were not enough, the Home Minister himself is going to America with a dossier on evidence of Pak hand, for a purpose which cannot be any different or any more than a book release. Are these people incapable of seeing what is happening, or hearing what they are saying? Very soon the Indian Government might even start catching American tourists and explaining the Pakistani role in the Mumbai attacks so that they can make some smart statement on TV about their unconditional support to India.

Why are they running to America for help and why do they need the endorsement of America for any and every step they take to serve the interests of India? Surely it is not a part of the nuclear deal.

Right at this moment two countries are fighting their internal strife with a great amount of success. Israel against Hamas and Sri Lanka against the LTTE. Yes, there are civilian causalities in both wars. But, were they not there earlier too? Is a civilian death by a government bullet different from that by a bullet of a terrorist. In any case people are dying. So it is best to resolve the issue once and for all to stop the mayhem caused by the terrorists or militants or separatists or whatever you want to call the people who take to arms to have their demands met. Revolutionists, they certainly are not. Can't the Indian government see that this is the way to handle terrorism and not running to 'Mommy' after each incident?

The Kashmir issue has been going on for the last 60 years. Till today we have not been able to reign in the separatists in our own country, how can we even begin to stop the external threat? I was ashamed to hear the Politicians of Jammu and Kashmir actually thanking the separatists for allowing the elections to take place and not resorting to violence. If the things do not improve, very soon we will be extending our heartfelt gratitude to Al Qaeda, ISI and LeT every time we have any incident-free function or festival in our country.

40 days have passed since the Mumbai attacks. We have achieved zilch since then. Very soon everyone is going to forget about the attacks. Maybe that is what the Indian Government wants. Very soon, when they raise the issue with America again, one of them might even tell India to forget about it, to let bygones be bygones. Very soon they might even tell us that Pakistan has done everything required, that nothing has happened for so many days, so India should probably accept that the Mumbai attacks were just an aberration in the otherwise peaceful neighborhood. Very soon someone like Bush might even ask, Mumbai attacks! When did that happen?

There is only one way to deal with people employing force, to apply force in the opposite direction. Diplomacy does not work in the face of weapons. That is the reason people make weapons. If the Indian Government seriously believes that war is not an option, then are the armed forces meant only for charity, employment and helping keep internal peace? Pests do not go away if you only tackle the ones you see. You have to go into their hiding places and take out the problem from it's roots to have a pest free place.

Saturday, January 3, 2009

Salman Khan - Accident Waiting To Happen

Some people never learn. Salman Khan for one and all the law makers for the other. The Mumbai Mirror reported, in a rather patronizing manner, that Salman Khan on Friday had five to six drinks of Vodka at Olive and after that drove an auto rickshaw with Katrina Kaif sitting behind. Read the article at

http://epaper.timesofindia.com/Default/Scripting/ArticleWin.asp?From=Archive&Source=Page&Skin=MM&BaseHref=MMIR/2009/01/03&PageLabel=27&EntityId=Ar02700&ViewMode=HTML&GZ=T

The article goes on to report that Salman has made a habit of it and has in the past driven around with Govinda and Willard Carroll. The way it was reported the reporter seemed more worried about Katrina Kaif's discomfort rather than the lives of innocent bystanders who Salman may have run into under influence of the Alcohol. Salman Khan in the past has run over people in a case of drunk driving. Despite that the man would not learn and so doesn't the media and the public and of course our law makers.

The point here is that Salman Khan was driving under the influence of liquor and he should be arrested based on this report before he kills someone, again, with his brash habits. Why is the Police not waking up? Why is the state government not taking away his license for repeated offenses of drunk driving? Why is the media still patronizing him for a behavior which is clearly against the law? Or is Salman Khan so confident that he can always get away, even after killing people, with his celebrity status. Someone, Please stop Him before he kills innocent people again.

Friday, January 2, 2009

Fuel Surcharge – Government Aided Scam

Circumstances – Massive dip in the oil prices world over.
Good news - A few days back Air India announced a fare cut by 45 to 85 % in various sectors. Others are likely to follow suit.
Bad news – The cut was limited to the basic fare charged and not on the fuel surcharge.

What is happening, one might be tempted to ask. If the fuel prices have gone down, the fuel surcharge should go down, why the basic fare. There is a lot of economics at work here. This is an example of a Government aided scam. Let us try to understand it.

The fuel surcharge here in India was introduced in Nov 2005 for the airlines business, primarily to offset the volatility in the prices of fuel and hence the Aviation Turbine Fuel or the ATF. No, it is not the brain of some over-intelligent Indian economist; it has existed in the west for a lot longer and has pervaded other sectors too, besides the aviation sector as it will, in our country too.

How does the airlines company benefit? On the face of it, it might seem that Rs 500 less in the basic fare or the fuel surcharge is the same thing. It is not. All the concessions, discounts, air mileage redemptions etc are based on the basic fare. When the basic fare is reduced so is the amount of these discounts. Therefore the customer, that is, you and I end up paying more than what we would have if the fuel surcharge was reduced instead. The cost of fuel in an airline operation is just about 30-35% of the total operational costs. Here we have a situation where the basic fare is only about 10-35% of the fuel surcharge. As a result the 82% cut announced by Air India would be equivalent only to about 10-15% of the total fare which by no means is enough, considering that the fuel price has gone down by much more. The Fuel surcharge is split into two rates, one up to 750 kms and the other above 750 kms. So irrespective of whether you are flying 751 kms or 2000kms the fuel surcharge remains the same. Now, the basic fare remaining the same for the two distances can not justified, but fuel surcharge can be, since it is an arbitrary figure decided by the company with no Governmental control over it.

Another profitable instance for the Airlines is the commission they have to pay to the travel agents. This too is based on the basic fare and will result in savings for the Airlines. The same logic also applies to freight. The arbitrary value of the fuel surcharge ensures that every one pays and the overall benefits to the transporter is much more than when he does bulk movement.

How it benefits industry? On the face of it does not, but look carefully it does. Take the example of courier companies. Every time you use the service the company passes on the fuel surcharge to the customer, thereby raising the cost to the customer, accost which in no way is commensurate with the actual costs of operation considering that the freight is always done in bulk. Very soon the fuel surcharges will pilfer into other industries raising the prices of goods. The industry can and will attribute it to the rise in fuel surcharges. Most companies use this tactic to avoid the customer wrath which they would otherwise face if they hiked the cost of the product itself, so they take refuge under the fuel surcharge.

How it benefits the Government? In India the ATF still falls into the category of undeclared goods. Meaning that the governments can charge anything between 4-24% tax on the ATF. If the ATF was brought into the declared goods category there would be a flat tax rate of 4%. If that happens the state governments will stand to loose a huge chunk of it’s tax revenues. They wouldn’t want that, would they. And more the fuel surcharge the more they benefit.

How the citizens lose? The first part I have already discussed. The worthy citizens who are entitled to a discount get lesser of it. The frequent fliers have to fly much more to redeem their miles and they still end up paying the surcharges and taxes. This is just the beginning, when it spreads across the other industries, the people who are not utilizing the transportation services will have to start paying for the goods they buy in the market. The airline operators also indulge in what is called hedging. Hedging is a financial strategy that lets airlines protect themselves against rising prices for Fuel by locking in a price for fuel. In simpler words it is gambling. If the fuel prices fall below the hedged price, the airlines lose money, which forces them to make their future customers pay more for their follies. That could be one reason why the airlines refuse to reduce the fuel surcharge despite the fall in prices of fuel and ATF.

Solution – In India there is no benchmark index on which the fuel surcharge is based. It is arbitrary. Will a benchmark rate help? It is doubtful. The west has tried it and the issue of setting the fuel surcharge rate has only become more confounding and even though there are elaborate formulae defined for the calculations, most people do not understand the rationale. The only way out is to get ATF into declared goods, to reduce the tax burden on the airlines which gets passed on to the customer and directly link the surcharge with the ATF or the fuel price. In this day and age of internet making transactions easier, it shouldn’t be difficult to manage the bookings with a variable surcharge which varies in accordance with the fuel prices. Till such time this happens, the Fuel surcharge will remain a Government aided scam.