Thursday, December 28, 2006

Not a movie.... but Sheer Brilliance!!!

Not just a movie…. but an experience for life … not just entertainment but lessons of Courage and Integrity….!! … sums up ‘The Scent of a Woman’ ….! 13 yrs after the movie won critical acclaim and ofcourse the 'Best Actor Oscar' for long deserved Al Pacino’s brilliant performance and impeccable portrayal of a blind retired Lieutenant Colonel Frank Slade, I am forced to instigate everyone to watch and experience what the movie has to offer. It is not the storyline…. It the essence of the character and the flamboyance of the movie that has made it one of my favorites….! My only regret is that I shouldn’t have given it a miss before.

You might be reminded of Pacino’s towering achievements in the Godfather, Skarface and others… but ‘Scent of a Woman’ is once again a reminder of the good old days when actors displayed their charismatic screen persona. The movie revolves around two seemingly different men, Lt. Colonel Frank Slade (Pacino) a wounded belligerent warrior with refined taste for cuisine, chauffeured limos, and beautiful women, and Charlie Simms (Chris O'Donnell) who is a poor, fatherless scholarship student at a boarding school.

Proud and irascible, Pacino does not let anyone feel sorry for him; he is out on a quest of fun and passion. His enigmatic and bizarre personality is woven together with finesse like never before. His honest and passionate description of women, his zest for life, the sound of his voice, the music, the mystery leaves you gasping for more….! In each progressing scene, we get to know another facet of Slade's multi-shaded personality, another element of his past. Pacino is, without doubt, the best thing in the movie, always keeping it afloat. He brings to the role a mixture of strong presence and light self-mockery that helps set the film's bitter-sweet mood. It is the kind of role that would win the Oscars and this one sure did.

It shows that the feelings can be much sharper when one is missing, in this case the lack of sight, shows that Frank developed a new way of living and that way goes deeper into the hearts of the ones he lets come by himself. Teaches how we can look deeper into a woman and understand that there is a lot more than what we see.

Charlie (O’Donnell) is brilliant in his innocent portrayal of a school boy who goes on a journey that changes two lives, his sheer innocence leaves you charmed. I wouldn’t want to ruin your experience of the movie so I shall go no further…..!

Just that….. it is 2.5 hrs of pure beauty and magic through the feelings of a human heart about everything it surrounds.

It teaches you to love….and give and exchange love, because that gives you a reason to LIVE and move on….

A must watch if your ever doubt yourself for being a woman, if you need that push to move on….The Scent of a Woman will get you right where it should !!

Tuesday, December 26, 2006

The Rush for Retail

If you are one of those who follow business news closely, you would have realized by now that the most happening thing in India at the moment is Retail. Almost everyone, quite literally, has evinced interest in the booming Indian retailing industry and feel that organised retail is the way forward for future.

To mention a few: Reliance group has extensive plans to enter the Retail industry in a big way. The Tatas are also underway. Existing players like Pantaloon (with their Big Bazaar brand) etc are firming up for the stiff competition by having their own expansion plans. But the one that takes the cake is the alliance of Sunil Mittal's Bharti with the global retail giant Wal-Mart. This move is said to be a masterstroke from Sunil Mittal.

But, why is everyone so interested in Indian retail? The answer seems pretty simple. Indian retail market is worth a mammoth 350 billion dollars. But only a paltry 20% of this is organised retail. The rest of the market is still with the small and medium roadside vendors. Herein lies the opportunity for growth. If anyone can capture even 5% of this market share, he will be having a 14-15 billion dollar Mcap. It is this money that is luring the whos-who of world retail to India.

However exciting these big numbers may seem, organised retail has its own set of problems. Firstly, crores of Indian families have small roadside shops and that is their bread and butter. Now with the big players planning to have so much coverage, these small players will be virtually wiped out from the scene. For the time being, this may be the case for only the vendors in big metros. But with the kind of money that is set to flow in, organised retail will soon enter small towns as well. What will happen to these vendors? People who had lived respectably till now by doing fairly good business, may be forced to do menial jobs for a living. Can the government do something to help these small shopkeepers? We need to wait and watch; However, at the moment, the future seems bleak.

There exists another not so obvious, but an equally dangerous problem. The retail segment is the last part in the customer supply chain. By this, I mean, it is the retail sector which is in direct contact with the customer. Therefore, anybody who is a major player in the retail industry will have the potential to control the country's economy. Now, the critical question arises-- Should we allow a foreign player to control our country's Last Mile, as it is referred to? This is a sensitive issue which needs to be addressed with due diligence.

Hence, organised retail, seemingly attractive at the first glance has more than its share of problems. We would be better off in solving them before the retail boom kicks in.

Friday, December 22, 2006

The ball will never spin the same way... Again!

Come Jan 6th, 2007 and one of the most cherished bowler would have hanged his boots for the last time and cricket would be poorer by his absence. He is the bowler who brought to the speed-crazy public, the lost art of leg spin bowling. Such is the status enjoyed by this man from Victoria, Australia. Shane Keith Warne, aged 37 will be finally calling it quits ending a career which lasted 145 tests and 194 ODIs.

Cricket connoisseurs won’t forget the 1992 Ashes series when Shane announced his arrival in world cricket by bowling Mike Gatting out. This has been touted as the ball of the century by critics and fans alike, and rightly so.

In a career spanning 16 years, he has coaxed batsmen with his various guiles into giving their scalps, 699 of them (so far) in tests and 293 in the ODIs. He has been a consistent campaigner picking wickets against the best of the teams all over the cricket playing world. His moment of glory came when he, along with Sachin Tendulkar was invited to a tea party with the greatest batsman ever to have walked the turf, Sir Don Bradman in 1998.

He has always been the man, any captain would turn to whenever the situation demands. Few batsmen have been able to dominate him in the manner in which Brian Lara and Sachin Tendulkar have done.

But he has not always been the role model whom the parents would like their kids to emulate. He has been christened the BAD BOY in more than one occasion, been involved in match fixing even before the 1999 match fixing saga; stared in a number of sexapades and has also been found guilty of taking performance enhancing drugs which made him miss ICC World Cup 2003.

But all in all, he has been a good ambassador for the game of cricket. As I started this topic, I reiterate.. The ball will never spin the same!

Good Bye.. Shane!

Thursday, December 21, 2006

My year in retrospect

As i stumbled upon Darren Rowse's ProBlogger topic for the season, I felt myself relive my past year. There were few moments that stood out; forcing a change in me or teaching me something important or just pointing out at some of the decisions that I made. Here, I wish to take you through some of the events that took place, with my retrospective thoughts about them.

I noticed encouraging signs in the evolution of my thought process. I am very pleased to report increasing incidents of positive approach to many of the situations, which not only helped me in dealing with it when I could, but also in pulling myself through when I could do nothing. Its been a year where I learnt that negative thoughts are not to be thrown out of the window altogether, but, to look for the hidden meanings in them. Looking at things & ideas in a pessimistic perspective, at times, aids you to be more careful & makes you look into the intricate details. It also helps you to come up with escape routes or to plan different approaches, should the present approach fail. The idea of swapping places with others to judge any tricky situation & to handle tight corners, payed rich dividends to not only me, but, also to the others involved; of that i am certain.

In my journey of self-discovery through the year, I also noticed the role played by the “Feel-Good” factor in my approach towards day-to-day, as well, as special activities. Of course, this was greatly enhanced by instances like motivating others, encouraging them; besides being a sturdy rock to lean on or to take support or to just vent away the worries whenever a buddy in distress needs one.

Academically, there was reiteration of the fact that one need not concentrate on scoring very highly in the subjects alone, as long as one knows whats going on & knows how to use the knowledge he has garnered in an apt way whenever called for. Having said that, if you do happen to set your sights on doing something memorable with the amount of skill you’ve got, then, that decision should be taken early; while also being accompanied by systematic planning & a disciplined approach, with enough time thrown in for fun & family.

Getting injured, physically or psychologically, need not always be due to ones mistake. It can even happen in the most trivial of circumstances. The pain & discomfort one endures is what makes him stronger.

Although, I knew helping others & volunteering to help in doing something are noble & satisfying; this was the year in which I first experienced the taste of the elixir of true happiness filling my heart to the brim. The joy & pride which floods ones mind once the work succeeds is what can be defined as being truly sweet. In addition to that, there was the delight in toiling towards the goal, especially, since it was accompanied by all-round laughter & fun.

Sports are always known to relax the mind, while at the same time, giving enough work to the ever-eager musculature. Over the past year, I discovered the delectation in persevering with sports and training over a long period of time. Not only does it ameliorate your skills, but, it also impels you to manage time better, lest you be left wanting in your other activities. I, especially, liked the grit we showed in fighting hard & working harder to make our way to a commendable position in the cricket tourney for which we were working, in spite of ours being not such a strong contingent this time round. My modest contributions in it, has made it an experience that I will treasure. As an added bonus, making it through to the next level by representing our university, where only a few get selected, has formed an important blip in my never-ending learning curve.

Finally, towards the end of the year, my brother re-introduced me into blogging, as we set out with our minds filled with hopes of doing something substantial. The important thing for us is improvement which we want to see develop within us in terms of our writing skills & also, in getting the message across in a very polished manner.

Tuesday, December 19, 2006

The new Xtreme avataar of CBZ

The very first thought that came to my mind when I heard about the new bike - CBZ- Xtreme was "Is this really something new?..... or is it just another re-badged & a pathetically newly styled bike from the Hero Honda stables?"

After seeing the photos of the new machine & going through the tech-specs of the machine, i was forced to at the least give it proper notice...

The side profile of the bike caught my attention 1st, and I was fairly impressed by its looks, atleast in the photos... What caught my eyes were the aggressive rear quarter panels, the split grip at the rear (which by the way looks really good, I must add). The tail-lights, though, not the best...were somewhat acceptable. Then, I happened to look at its front fairing & for a moment, I thought I am in a different world... the world of 100cc bottom-rung bikes. Well, I don't know of a better place where a squarish, flat headlamp would fit, other than in the budget class...!! Even the subtle, unique touch of the bulging, eye-like side indicators integrated into the fairing fails to compensate for the unbelievably bland front. I didn't get the funda behind the rectangular, flat & separate parking light above the headlight either. That indeed looks very odd! The tank is pretty decent, although, it has got lines of familiarity running all over it... The black finish of the engine is a nice touch, although, it would have been even better if it was matted...

When I finally got my chance to see the bike in its flesh, during a test-ride, I was quite disappointed, actually… The shiny black finish of the engine cover & the bottom half of the bike was reminiscent of the lower class bike though the color coded rear view mirrors is a nice touch...

Now coming to the engine… The essentials of the engine remain fairly the same as its sibling, the Unicorn, but, with minor tweaking to get the power output upto 14.4 PS @ 8500 rpm & a torque rating of 12.8 Nm developed at a very respectable 6500 rpm. This makes it the highest ranked mobike in the 150 cc segment, power-wise… In my short test ride, however, I could not test whether this translates to heroics on-the-road… The initial pick-up was pretty good, I have to mention, although the manner of power delivery is a little laid back, in comparison to the Pulsar 150 DTSi or the Apache. One aspect of Hero Honda which has made it legendary is the refinement offered by the impeccably smooth & refined Honda engine & the precise gearing… All these points are, thankfully, seen in the new CBZ as well… The gear ratios seem just about right… The gear shifting is as smooth & effortless as hot-knife-through-butter. The gear shift lever has only a front foot-peg, with no foot pegs for the sole. I know, this is the way it is in the sports bikes; but, from the practicality point of view, it would have been far more useful providing a sole gear-changer as well…

The ride with most HHs is pretty good & sorted out keeping the Indian roads (& pot-holes) in mind… The ride in this bike is also pretty decent… The riding position is almost spot-on & the seats seem to have the right amount of firmness, but, its effectiveness in long rides is yet to be found out…

The bike has a decent balance, with not too much of its weight being felt at the handle bar. So, maneuverability in moving in & out of the bumper-to-bumper traffic in the cities should not pose a major challenge… This should also help its handling…

The instrument cluster has new-look dials with a few detailed touches… The switches, though, are similar to the ones seen in other HH bikes… But, what is being provided does seem a bit less, especially when u get a fully-loaded Pulsar, with the digital speedo, self-canceling indicator, LED lights etc with a bit less of a pinch into your pockets…

With its price tag of Rs. 64000 odd, on-the-road Mangalore, its not exactly sending any chills down its competitors spines… Especially when TVS offers a brilliant looking, power-packed handler in Apache & the Bajaj guys raising the bar yet again with their brand new Pulsar… HH doesn't even come out with vague promises of over-the-moon fuel efficiency figures with this one…

In conclusion, although this is a much better work at renovating the CBZ than the previous efforts seen by the HH guys, it has still left wanting in several areas… The looks need to be improved, and a more aggressive power-delivery by the impressive engine would be most welcome & so will a few more paraphernalia at a competitive price… At this moment, however, I get the feeling; it will probably be accepted by only the HH faithfuls..!!

Thursday, December 14, 2006

Shantaram - A review

Title : Shantaram

ISBN : 0316728209
Author :
Gregory David Roberts
Pages :

I’m just laying down the book Shantaram, after having first touched its pages a month & a half back… The Question that arises is.. Is it boring or just too long??? Well... Actually, it isn't... My busy schedule with work and play & my habit of unhurried progress through each page explains the mammoth time I've used up in enjoying... that's right, enjoying most of the 900- odd pages of this book...

To give a view of the plot from what it appears to someone at the moon… This is a story of an Australian fugitive’s search for freedom after he touches down at the Bombay Airport… On a slightly closer look, it deals with his social life as a Bhai in the Mumbai Mafia, the mistakes he committed during his lifetime… As you read on, you tend to see through the fugitive-mask which has been put on him by the authorities & be able to read his emotions, his thoughts about the people he meets, the events that occur, his simplistic approach & his sincere effort to help the deprived…

Amidst all the deplorable views of being a Goonda, there is ample of proof of the real ‘him’ which sparkles in his tenure at the slum, being a friend, a social man & the slum doctor… Book takes you through the turmoil of his love-life and his remorse for the actions he has done, the omissions he has made & the signs which he left unread…

His work is of a pretty high standard on the literary charts, with great descriptions of the events & the characters, with great attention being thrown into the details… The action plots are satisfactory… Although, I felt it a little tedious at some parts, his pace is pretty good, as a whole…

What appealed to me most about this book, bringing it into the thresholds of entering ‘one of my favorite’ category, was his amazing description of the “Indian” way of leading life… It amazes me to see the connection he achieved with the Indian minds… His vignette of the mindset of the people & the breath-taking narrative of the sights, smells, tastes & the feel of Bombay is simply marvelous… You tend to colligate his narration to most of the Indian cities and it brims you up with pride, especially, his findings of the Indian kindness…

One more thing which fascinated me in this book was his thoughts & his philosophical impressions of the events & his unmistakable talent of summarizing it in his own wonderful way, as can be seen at the end of most chapters… There are pretty apt generalizations and some cheeky quotes thrown-in all along, as well…

I would definitely suggest it as a read-once atleast for most of the people… If I had to whine about something, then, it would probably be its length, but, even that, you tend to enjoy it as you browse along… It certainly struck most of the right notes in my head which makes me give an admirable nod!!! So, Kudos to Gregory David Roberts!!!


Recently, MUL launched the small car, Zen Estilo in the B Segment market. This launch prompted me to reflect on the dynamics of the Indian automobile scene, and try to analyse the auto makers' attitude towards the Indian market.

Circa early 1990's. Indian car-buyers hardly had any choice. There were at most a handful of cars to choose from. Most of the segments had only one car. For example, Maruti 800 was the only entry-level car. A premium car almost always meant a Contessa. And the babus almost certainly flaunted an Amby.

All that changed in the late 90's when the Koreans invaded the small car segment - Hyundai with its Santro, and Daewoo with its Matiz. And since then, as they say, things have never been the same again. The launch of these cars heralded the automobile revolution in India. By the turn of the century, the market was flooded with a slew of models. The Indians had all but been crowned king consumer. Global auto companies also started seeing India in a different light. But how committed are these companies towards providing the latest and best to their Indian customers?

I'd like to start off with Toyota as an example. When Toyota, in partnership with Kirloskar, launched the Qualis, it created a flutter in the market. Finally, there was an alternative to the Tata Sumos and the Tempo Trax. But what did Qualis really have to offer other than the Toyota brand and quality guarantee? Not much, actually. Qualis is based on the Toyota Venture which was sold in South Africa in early 90's. So that means Toyota was stuffing decades old technology down our throats. In spite of this, Qualis went on to become a huge hit. It ruled as a people-carrier for nearly 5 years. It was particularly popular with the commercial and transport (read "cabbie") segment. Why? Simple - The Qualis offered an unmatched combination of comfort, power and value for money. But with launch of newer models and variants among competitors (Tata Safari DiCOR, Mahindra Scorpio etc), which also offered unmatched style, Toyota realized that the Qualis' days were numbered and went on to replace it with the Innova. That doesnt take away anything from the Qualis though.

Now, lets come to the biggest name in the Indian automobile story - Maruti Udyog. They just launched an all-new model last week and decided to give it the "Zen" badge. The new Maruti Zen Estilo has absolutely nothing in common with its predecessor, save its name. But there's more to this tale. This car is actually the previous generation Suzuki MR Wagon (not to be confused with WagonR) in Japan. Now, a new generation of MR Wagon has been launched in Japan and this old generation (5 yr old) is dead and buried. So Maruti-Suzuki decided to launch it here in India. The advantage - it allows them to keep the costs down. And the costs are down too! Just Rs. 4 Lakhs ex-showroom for a top-of-the-line stylish-looking tall-boy hatch back, 1.1L engine, 5 seater, with EPS, power windows, A/C, ABS and airbags (of course that is the introductory price). I'd call that cheap! I think that if the price (after revision) is right, and the fuel efficiency is decent, this car will be a success. So there you are - a car which is dead and buried elsewhere in the world, has every chance of being accepted here with open arms. Why? Simple - the Maruti Zen Estilo offers the right combination of style, comfort, safety and the all-important VFM.

I read an interesting statistic somewhere - that the Maurti 800, Alto, Zen and WagonR are all actually 4 generations of the same car in some markets!!!And to think that they cater to 4 different "segments" in India. Carrying forward this trend are Skoda. What sells as the Skoda Laura in India is actually the next-generation Octavia in other markets; but both these models sell side-by-side in India. Similarly we have Hyundai, whose Verna is replacing the Accent in some markets (I cant figure out why - the Verna is a totally new car, built from scratch) but in India Verna is positioned above the Accent. What I'm trying to point out here is that some manufacturers are hesitant to phase out old models early on from the Indian market, primarily because the old models also sell well; plus they are cheaper to produce.

Of course, not all manufacturers belong to this category though. Mercedes, for example, launches new models or new generations simultaneously with their global launch (Whew! what a relief, considering the fact that Mercedes sells half the cars in India, right?? :-/). Honda too, is committed to launching newer models within a reasonable time gap after the global launch. Here, we see Hyundai doing a double-face. Because as far as its higher end models (like Sonata) are concerned, Hyundai has introduced the newest model within a few months of its inception.

The third category has companies like Tata, which develop cars primarily targeted at the Indian market! I feel this is really commendable. Developing a car from scratch for the Indian market and yet keeping costs down and offering VFM (best example being Tata Indigo Diesel). Kudos to Tata.

All in all, I feel that as long as a car offers value for money, we Indians are going to buy it. It would not make a difference in the high-margin segments (like the Mercs or Honda Accords); so such manufacturers can afford to pump in latest models as and when they are released worldwide. But, in the volumes segment, companies find this practice of bringing to life, models which are dead elsewhere, as an innovative way to keep costs down. In conclusion, I would say that this new-found practice has the potential to further spruce up the Indian car market and become a strong participant in the second automobile revolution in the country. Provided the compromises made are upto a reasonable extent. Provided the technology is reasonably new (or reasonably old, depending on how you look at it). Provided the buzzword is adhered to: Value For Money. More competition and lower prices only means the customer is served better. Cheers to the "King Consumer".

Saturday, December 9, 2006

Musings of A dejected MiND......!

....I still remember that evening when i sat by the window of my room, and watched the leaves dancing and rejoicing at the glory of the rain and mocking at my very existence. With eyes drenched i watched the birds fly to the cosy protection of of their little nests. In the air i smelt the sweet dampness of mud, yet felt the pain deep within me choking me to death. I felt like my dreams were shattered, my wishes sacrificed and my aspirations burnt and crying out faintly in the loud din!!!

But, i raised my head and saw the sun setting on the horizon. Suddenly, i felt a chord strike my heart, resulting in a faint music playing in the vicinity. I realised there is more to life. I let go of all the inhibitions that were binding my purpose of achieving my goal. I understood that I had the right to dream, toil and conquer.

I learnt that it is more rewarding to meet life on my own, to drink in every cup life has to offer - not to confine myself to the good and socially acceptable. i had to widen my horizons, move beyond society - experience the best and the worst of life, the trouble, pain and joy! Experience EVERYTHING life has to offer.

'Life' is a serious affair and talking life seriously is better than having fun all along. The former is to have a serious affair with life, becoming more involved, wading in it, drinking in it; while the latter is a casual one night stand.

I have to be me under all circumstances and forge ahead and envisage everything, all ventures life has to offer.Suddenly the chord stopped, but the music still played in the ambience, in every drop of water, the fresh air, the grey clouds passing by and my life. The edifice of fear built in my mind fell and perished. I found a new meaning to life. 'Life is Beautiful'.

I have to live it the way it comes. Thorns are meant to prick, but it dare not come in the way of a conqueror - A conqueror of his dreams.
I learnt to recognize success and failures from its own unique point of view. I had to live life by my own rules, and that in all situations, i was the only one who would be with myself all through, and i has to always remain the one and only.......!!

Thursday, December 7, 2006

Full Time Vs Part Time Learning

This was the dilemma I faced, when I started thinking about my masters’ degree and I am sure many of you guys will also go through the same ordeal. Each has its plusses as well as minuses. And the particular choice that one eventually takes up is governed by many other societal, economic factors.

Let me start with part time courses. These are a great way to update one’s skill set without adversely affecting the current job or their responsibilities. The biggest advantage in learning through this type of program is that one is able to apply the lessons learnt to real world problems. Then there is the financial aspect. Most of the big companies reimburse either full or part of the total expenditure. This works as a win-win situation for both the employer as well as the employee. But there is a catch 22 situation here. The companies provide these facilities for someone who has been committed to them for a long time, which more or less rules out most of the candidates who have further studies as their career plan! Then there is the seriousness of the degree. Generally, a student opting for a part time course will not be hell bent on scoring top grades and he/she always excuse themselves for not completing an assignment or not getting the grades. Also, most of the colleges don’t offer the same quality of education, which result in job offerings that are not as exciting or lucrative.

A full time program on the other hand gives one a comprehensive experience. They get the best in terms of college life, networking, internships and placements. Since, the student will be working full time; his focus is less likely to get devoured. This is a very good option for someone wanting to change his line of work or wanting a break from his usual chores. But, for going in full time one needs careful planning and clear cut career aspirations. He should be healthy financially, as he would have to jeopardize his existing job in pursuit of his dream.

Some institutes have also started operating another kind of program wherein a student who opted for part time program, changes to full time on getting a scholarship and the like. Some online degrees do provide the quality of full time programs at the cost and convenience of a part time program.

All said and done, one really can’t vote on either one with conviction. What program suits an aspirant best is a personal choice one has to take considering the above factors. What do you guyds think?

Wednesday, December 6, 2006

Sar mein Helmet.. Nahi toh hoge Hell's inmate!!!

With many of the states embracing (or proposing to) the “helmets are compulsory” rule, it has got the Mango people (didn’t get it?? our AAM JANATA) farting their hearts(?) out. And, surprisingly, instead of supporting it, we find that the opposers outnumber the supporters, and that too, by a far shot.

Helmets are really our true MATES in this HELL, called Indian roads (or any roads, for that matter). Whatever your ‘nut’ is made of, it needs to be protected, & helmets do that job to a "T"... providing an outer, tougher Nut, which is hard to penetrate. Also, they come with visors which ward off the dust & other elements, which is an oh-so-common thing in our dust-bowls called "roads".

The main hindrance to the use of helmets is undoubtedly the mindset of the people, although, they are not willing to accept it... For this very reason, they come up with complaints that it gets hot and sweaty inside the helmet... I agree, it does feel a bit hot inside during daytime when immobile, but, this is just a transient state... Once you get moving, there is enough airflow inside any helmet... And once you throw open the visor, you can enjoy the fresh air, just like before...

Another reason for its non acceptance maybe the added burden a helmet possesses in carrying it around, after parking... For this very purpose there are helmet locks to secure it to the vehicle...

Then, there r people suggesting that their drop-dead, gorgeous looks cannot be appreciated by the fairer sex because of these helmets coming in their way. I have nothing much to say about this, except that, there is nothing “macho” in having white bandages adorning your handsome face or, worse still, your photo appearing in the newspapers in the Obituaries section for all those birds to see. After all this, they will be left kissing tarmac, rather than u-know-who’s ;-)!!!

I, quite apparently, am not as good my fellow Bharathiyas in finding the cons (or creating one, as it seems to me) about helmet use. Coz, I’ve heard reports about demonstrators going out onto the streets with protests (can u imagine??) to ban the helmet rule, coz it causes hair-loss & what not!!! Of course, there is no proof to back their claims...

Forcing pillions to wear helmets may seem obscure to some, but, give it a thought... Are pillions spared in any accident; don’t they get hurt just as badly as the riders themselves.

I hope better sense prevails & this rule comes into effect across our Bharath-varsh. Coz, we Indians have a special liking for doing things out of compulsion, rather than out of conviction. But, even that, I feel is OK. Force it, if they don’t have the discipline to do it themselves. After all paying a fine is far better and cheaper than paying for the hospital bills; or worse still, paying for the funeral procession…!!

As they say, with this SAFETY device on your head, u can sip SAFE TEA(was’nt that a good one?!!) at home….!! This ensures that you BURN THE ROAD & not the BODY!!!!

Tuesday, December 5, 2006

Development: The double edged sword.

A few days back, I was watching a popular news channel. It was unfolding the Singur controversy. For people who have missed it, Singur is a rural town in West Bengal where the Tatas want to set up their famed '1 Lac' car plant. The controversy is over the land. Farmers are not ready to forgo their land, but the state government is adamant to acquire it and hand it over to the Tatas. Violent protests have ensued and the town is facing a law and order problem.

As I explained to my mother, who was also watching the news along with me, I realised that this problem was not just specific to Singur, but it related to the whole country. Every developmental project has problems pertaining to land. The problems may be wide ranging-- From complaints of acquiring excess land to paltry compensation to compensation not reaching the deserving, etc etc.

But I realised these problems were only the tip of the iceberg. They can be solved through various means. But I feel the bigger problem is of a different kind. It is the scarcity of land itself. What will happen when every possible piece of land is industrialised? What next? What will happen to agriculture sector which employs more than 75% of our population? Where will the farmers go? Most important of all- What will we eat? All kinds of food we consume comes directly or indirectly from the farms. What will happen when farmer ceases to exist? I wonder whether that will be the beginning of the end.

The above mentioned scenario may seem a little far fetched for our generation. But it is bound to happen in some time if the same trend continues. The pace at which industries are growing is phenomenal. This acceleration of growth is partly due to farmers' dismay over their economic condition. The government's poor support system and low income forces them to sell their land and look for alternate employment. This leads to ills like mass migration and selective population explosion.

The solution? Well, I am not very sure. The way out may be to slow down on other sectors and develop and support agriculture based industries. That way, we can reduce the disenchantment of farmers and keep them motivated. After all, the principal need is to survive.

My mother, though, had a simple solution. She said that all the illegal lands of politicians, if seized, would be enough to build more industries than ever required. How I wish that was possible.

In essence, development, without any doubt, is a double edged sword. If used recklessly, it can destroy mankind in just one swipe.

Sunday, December 3, 2006

Am I Distant from Society

AIDS…One of the most dreaded acronym of recent times... What does it actually stand for?

Most of us know it as “Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome”… But, ask the victims, and they might probably say it stands for Am I Distant from Society!!!

How often have you not read reports or seen incidents of a Tom Hanks (in Philadelphia) or a Tinu Hari being thrown out of work just because he has fallen into the deadly grasp of this disease… It is more heart-breaking to see children being outcast from schools & from play areas, just because they are innocent carriers, through none of their faults…

Most of us, educated people know that Human Immunodeficiency Virus (HIV) spreads mainly through unprotected sexual activity & sharing of body fluids, as in Blood transfusion, sharing of infected needles & during child birth from mother to child… It has been proved time-and-again that casual touch etc can’t cause the infection… But, lots of people are not willing to accept it… They say, “You tell today there is no chance of infection through touch & after a big time research, you’ll say it can also be spread through touch… Where will we be left, then??”

Although, the numbers always suggested that so many millions are infected with the virus & some million more are suffering from AIDS, I dint realize the severity of the situation until I went to the hospital wards & OPD as part of my postings… More than 30 % of the patients I have seen are HIV positive!!! And in some of the hospitals, there is a separate “Retroviral section” for intensive care of these people, who come in with all sorts of opportunistic infections.

So, what can we do to improve the quality of life of these people, some of whom don’t have too much life left in front of them by the time they are diagnosed…?

The best way is to educate the masses about the disease as such & also about the ways by which they can & cannot be spread… For those who have already boarded the HIV train, the best we can try to do is to stop them from passing on this deadly virus to others… apart from the usual safe sex & sex with only one partner, it’ll be wise to advise them against having children who are bound to be born fighting against the virus only to be dead even before they know what they are suffering from…

Spread the message, not the virus.