Tuesday, November 30, 2004

Bangalore as Union Territory

I am told there is a proposal doing the rounds to make Bangalore a Union Territory or even carve out a New Bangalore. I am also told that the objective is to enable the administration to focus better on amenities and infrastructure and thereby make people's lives better. It's just a talk in the corridors of power and nothing concrete.

Here is a news item carried by the online edition of Star of Mysore of Nov 30.
Star of Mysore, Mysore.
Mysore, Nov. 30 (PH&BRS)- Pressures may be brought in the coming days to make Bangalore a Union Territory on the grounds that there are more non-Kannada speaking people in that city than Kannadigas, observed noted columnist Prof. H.S. Krishnaswamy Iyengar (HSK).

He was speaking after inaugurating Kannada Rajyotsava celebrations in Jaganmohan Palace Auditorium here yesterday under the auspices of Canara Bank Kannada Sangha.

Kanandigas in Bangalore accounted for only 32 per cent, while others were 68 per cent. It was not surprising if the majority of the population who had gravitated to Bangalore and speaking languages other than Kannada made a demand for declaring Bangalore as a Union Territory, Prof. HSK remarked.

It was right to say that outsiders must not be allowed to make Bangalore their home. But, they must learn Kannada, he felt.

Dr. Aravinda Malagatti, Director, Kuvempu Instiute of Kannada Studies, also spoke. Dr. S.T. Ramachandra, Senior Manager of Canara Bank's Regional Office presided. Mr. M.S. Satish, General Secretary of the Sangha and Mimicry Dayanand were on the dais.

Mr. C. Basavaraju, Treasurer of the Sangha, welcomed. Dayanand presented a hilarious entertainment programme.



Think it over..!!!

Saturday, November 27, 2004

The blaring horns

One thing that irritates me as I drive, are the horns of vehicles. For some drivers I think it is just a habit to blow them. I know one guy, who blares it even at 2 am at junctions. For others it could be even some form of sadism.

I am told that it is essential to develop the habit to ensure our safety. It seems we must blow the horn even if it is not essential just to warn other drivers and passers-by about our vehicle. Once when I almost hit a pedestrian, he turned around and shouted: "Doesn't your car have a horn?" I have also realised that on narrower roads it is all the more important to honk.

At traffic light junctions, the honks play an important role of waking up drivers who are dreaming and haven't realised that the light has turned green. I could never make out this simple message, and I used to curse the drivers. I still can't stand the blare, but I at least understand their objective.

In Singapore, and perhaps in many other countries as well, you don't hear the honks. There, blowing the horn means rebuke, I am told.

Thursday, November 25, 2004

Disturbing stories of pontiff

I got too busy with work. Thus the delay in posting. In the meanwhile, the stories surrounding the Kanchi Mutt in general, and Sri Jayendra Saraswati and the juniour pontiff in particular, are really shocking. I am quite wary about post anything I got to hear from various sources in Tamil Nadu, since much of it is quite scandalous. And more importantly, there'sn't any way of knowing if they are true. The three major news magazines -- India Today, Outlook and The Week -- have featured the case on the covers. I have just bought them. And, it looks like there is much to read there.

Friday, November 19, 2004

Now a Kabaddi World Cup

Mumbai, Nov 19 (IANS): It may not be in the same league as the grand tourneys of soccer or cricket, but the Kabaddi World Cup which begins here Friday with 12 international teams participating has aroused much curiosity. The World Cup at the Birla Kreeda Grounds in downtown Mumbai will see teams from 12 countries, including Britain, the West Indies, Canada and Japan in addition to old favourites like India and Nepal. Pakistan is not participating, depriving the tournament of much of its excitement.

The teams from the West are essentially made up of non-resident Indians, according to tournament sources. Organised by the South Kanara Sports Club (SKSC) to mark its 50th anniversary, the winning team is set to bag Rs.200,000 - not much if you consider prize money for other global sporting contests, but with airfare and accommodation thrown in courtesy sponsors it is not a bad deal for the visitors. About Rs 5 million ($110,755) was spent on the airfare of the participants, organisers said.According to Jaya Shetty, general secretary of the SKSC, the first of the matches begin with India taking on Thailand.

Though the sport does not go beyond the Asian Games, Shetty hopes that it will make it to the Olympics sometime in the future."We have produced many national and international players and received recognition from the state and central government," said Shetty. He told reporters that the organisers will meet up with officials from the Amateur Kabaddi Federation of India -- the apex body of the sport -- to discuss the formation of a world body. Representatives from France, the US, Kazakhstan and Lithuania would participate in the meeting.

Kabaddi is known by various names in different countries. The Iranians call it jhoo while South Koreans call it cattlefish. The teams have been divided into three groups with the top two from each group advancing to the knockout phase.Group A: India, Thailand, the West Indies and Canada.Group B: Japan, South Korea, Malaysia and the United Kingdom. Group C: Iran, Bangladesh, Germany, and Nepal.

(Indo-Asian News Service)

Thursday, November 18, 2004

Croatian diplomat fired over blog comments

The Croatian government has recalled an official from its Washington embassy after he apparently wrote on his blog that the diplomatic meetings were boring and that there was no difference between President Bush and the Democratic candidate John Kerry, according to a report from Reuters.

Third secretary at the Croatian embassy in Washington DC, Vibor Kalogjera, 25, had been narrating his experiences under the pseudonym "Vibbi". He is said to have violated state laws on foreign affairs and civil servants.

(From DMEurope.com

Wednesday, November 17, 2004

Did Jaya see my blog?!

It seems Jayalalithaa saw my posting on this blog! Within a few hours of my previous posting, she maid her first statement in the Tamil Nadu Assembly on the Kanchi pontiff's arrest. She said the government had "shocking" and "solid" evidence of the highly revered religious leader's role in the murder of a temple staffer.

Arrest of religious leader

One of the religious leaders of Hinduism, who has a huge following, has been arrested on suspicions of aiding the murder of another temple functionary. Kanchi Shankaracharya Jayendra Saraswati's arrest (on November 11 night) has shocked the legion of devotees in India and abroad.

A friend of mine in Australia emailed this to me: "It is so shocking and very sad... It is high time Indian politics is above all these... and... well no excuse for Swami anyhow.... If he is behind it (the murder) then law should take the course for the sake of the country."

My friend has written "Indian politics..." Excuse me, are we talking of politics or religion? I thought it was religion. But, a lot of people see the seer's arrest as a political game.

Two ways of looking at it:

1. The seer is innocent, but chief minister Jayalalithaa has put her behind bars because of political vendetta.

2. The seer is guilty, but Jayalalithaa has put her behind bars because of political vendetta.
Either way, it's unfortunate. I mean, the reason for the action.

A few things stand out:

1. This particular pontiff (unlike his predecessor) has been controversial.

2. Even pontiffs are human beings living in this very same world. Let's not mistake them to be Gods.

3. The most highly placed seers should live up to the godly image devotees have of them. It's tough, but don't we all like it that way? The less temporal they get, the greater the respect they earn. That makes them different from ordinary mortals.

4. The more we cut politics and religion from each other, the better for both. Let religious figures not court politicians for publicity, and let politicians not use religious leaders for gaining votes. India can do without these. Did you notice unlike other politicians Jayalalithaa hasn't said a word.


-- Jayalalithaa got Veerappan killed.
-- She has now got the Kanchi seer arrested.
-- Next ....

Monday, November 15, 2004

Syracuse University recruiting students in Bangalore tomorrow

Syracuse University is offering students of Bangalore a unique chance to get their application forms processed, attend interviews and receive an immediate offers of admission to its Engineering and Computer Science programme, right here in the city.

Syracuse University is a private medium sized University founded in 1870.It is a comprehensive research university that has thirteen-degree granting schools and colleges. It is located in the central area of New York State. The school of engineering and computer science offers graduate programs in Bioengineering, Electrical Engineering, Computer Science, Computer Engineering, Civil Engineering Mechanical Engineering.

Dr. Prasanta Ghosh, Faculty from the department of Electrical engineering and Computer Science will be at Yashna Trust (Satellite centre of US Educational Foundation in India and an affiliate of State Department) on Tuesday from 2.00 p.m.- 5.00 p.m.

Dr. Ghosh will come prepared to describe opportunities for graduate study in engineering and computer science at Syracuse University. He will also be prepared to evaluate application materials (including application forms, mark sheets, and GRE score reports) of any interested students and will be empowered to make admission decisions on the spot following an interview should students provide appropriate documentation.

This affords a rare opportunity for students to have a personal interview and receive an immediate offer of admission from a U.S educational institution of international repute.

Interested students are strongly encouraged to visit the website at
www.ecs.syr.edu and learn more about program offerings before scheduling an appointment with Dr Ghosh.

For more information students may call Yashna Trust at 51251922 or 51251913 or 51251940.
Yashna Trust, 102, The Park View, 40, Haines Road, Frazer Town, Bangalore 560 005.

Sunday, November 14, 2004

Life after Arafat

It's a few days since Yasser Arafat died. Will now Middle East be different? I doubt. Because for Israel, Arafat was more of an excuse than a real hurdle. It cuts the other way too. For Palestinians, Sharon was more of an excuse. To Sharon's credit we must say this radical, dared to announce pullout from West Bank and Gaza. But Palestinians want the wall removed. When neither refuse to budge, how can there be a foward movement. There is this golden rule in diplomacy: be ready to take one step back, so you can take two steps forward.
Unless the extremists retreat and let the moderates take control, nothing will change. Extremism is like a tiger. Once you mount, you can't get off; and even if you manage dismount alive, no one will believe you. This is as much true of Middle East as Kashmir, Ireland or the Basque region.

Tuesday, November 9, 2004

Rising petrol price

The petrol price is up again. And, it's the costliest in Bangalore. Something like Rs 45 per litre. Everywhere else in India it's cheaper.Because, the Karnataka government has levied a slew of surcharges. One of them is for infrastructure. And, see what we have in the city? Where is all this money going? Shouldn't the government tell the people how much money is being collected via surcharge on every litre of petrol we buy?

The Left is protesting the hike. In Kerala yesterday, the right-wing BJP protested. Coming to think of it, there isn't much point protesting. For, the prices are now directly linked to international prices. But still the government is subsidising to some extent. Thanks for small mercies. There was a time when the government paid a good percentage of the cost of our petrol. No longer.

International fuel prices is one big mess. No one really knows what games are being played in the name of oil. There is this theory called "blood for oil", i.e. the American blood in Iraq is being spilt for the benefit of powerful oil companies. There is also the theory why US supports Saudi Arabia despite the latter flouting every principle that America stands for. Just for oil, they say. The oil cartel is one big power broker in the world stage.

It's one big mess because I don't find any sincere move by world's most powerful nations to develop and popularise non-conventional fuels. One is hydrogen fuel. Then, we can have clean fuel cells instead of dirty petrol engines. And, hydrogen can be made by anybody anywhere. I am sure enough research on these have been done world over. One reason why they haven't really caught on, I think, is because of the powerful oil cartel. Or else what could be reason? If governments have money to spend for space exploration, the benefits of which are only indirect, why can't they set apart a little for such things like fuel, which have a direct bearing on people's lives?

All said and done, just look at the vehicles plying on the roads, or the queues at the petrol bunks. You won't believe the price has gone up so much or that petrol is very costly now.

Monday, November 8, 2004

Pitcairn Island Chooses Female Mayor

Mon Nov 8, 7:50 AM ET

WELLINGTON, New Zealand - Pitcairn Island has selected its first female mayor in its 214-year history after the former leader of the remote Pacific community was fired following his conviction on sex charges, British authorities said Monday.

The seven-member governing council on the isolated island, first settled by mutineers from the HMS Bounty, unanimously chose Brenda Christian, the sister of former Mayor Steve Christian, to fill the post until a Dec. 15 election, British High Commission spokesman Bryan Nicolson said.
Brenda Christian is the island's former police officer.

Late last month, six island men were convicted of rapes and sex attacks dating back as far as 40 years on the island, located midway between New Zealand and South America. Steve Christian, who claims to be a direct descendent of Bounty mutiny leader Fletcher Christian, was convicted of five rapes and sentenced to three years in prison.

Brenda Christian will preside over a 47-member community still coming to terms with the verdicts and the revelations of a reign of sex abuse by men on the island. The men's sentences, ranging from community service to six years in prison, will not begin until next year at the earliest, after appeals by their defense lawyers against Britain's jurisdiction over the island. If the sentences are upheld, the men will serve time in an island cell block they helped build.
British authorities last week fired Steve Christian as mayor and his son, Randy — who also was convicted of sex crimes — as chairman of a key island committee after the pair refused to resign.
Nicolson said Brenda Christian, born and raised on the island, had spent some years living in Britain and returned about five years ago.

Friday, November 5, 2004

Bush is back

Not quite surprisingly, Bush is back. For the first time in US history, a President who didn't have popular mandate in the first term has managed to get re-elected. For Americans who are threatened by terrorism, understandably, Bush is a safer option.
The question now is will he continue to be unilateral or let moderates in to some extent. Ronald Regan had mellowed down in the second term. What now we can expect is an allout attack on Fallujah, and a more vigorous cleanup of Iraq. Also look out for what's up in Iran. It is the third in line after Afghanistan and Iraq. But going by Iraq experience, will his approach to Iran be different?

Wednesday, November 3, 2004

Ohio and provisional votes

What are provisional ballots?

It's a backup ballot offered to a voter whose name does not figure on rolls when he comes to vote. In other words, a provisional ballot is cast by a voter who has shifted his residence, or whose name is not on the voters' list or who was previously deemed ineligible to vote but on election day has become eligible.

In Ohio the provisonal votes have become crucial since Democrats say Bush's lead is far less than the number of provisional votes. Kerry supporters say there are more than 2,50,000 provisional votes whereas Bush's lead is only 1,25,000.

Though the option of provisional votes was made through a law passed by the Congress in 2002 (Help America Vote Act), it has not been made clear how these votes should be counted.

Rules for provisional ballots vary from state to state.

Ohio is among the states where the law is the strictest. It has a Republican government and according to rules framed by it, provisional ballots cast outside the voter's current precinct (sub-division of a town or city) is not valid. According to rules, provisional ballots are to be issued only to voters who, after giving their address, are in the correct precinct, but whose name is missing from the voters list.

A lower-court struck this directive down, but on October 23, a federal appeals court upheld the administration's rule. Democrats had decided not to appeal then.

According to Ohio laws, the state's provisional votes cannot be counted and added to the electoral vote count until 11 days after the election. The gap is for election officials to verify voters' eligibility.

Now in Ohio, many voters, who were issued provisional ballots and voted, may end up with their votes not counted, if on verification their addresses didn't match with the precinct they voted in.

Tuesday, November 2, 2004

America is voting

America is voting. Just 4.5% of world population is deciding on who is the world's most powerful person.

I am asked why we are so excited. Why not? Whether you like it or not, America's influence runs across the world. Politicaly, socially, economically, culturally we are all affected (not necessarily in a bad way always.) However hard you try, it is very difficult to remain aloof. It's quite obvious to merit any elaboration.

In just about five hours, we will get the trends provided either Bush or Kerrry has taken a good lead. And, in 12 hours time we should know whether Bush has kept the job or lost it. And the race is close, or if the poll goes to court, then wait.