Friday, July 31, 2009

Philips to launch Android phones

By: Subhadeep Bhattacharjee

If you haven't seen a Philips cell phone ever in you life you are not alone. The technology giant could never make a grip over the cell phone market although they had made an early entry. All that is supposed to change and Philips is all set take the market by storm. The technology spies have given the world the first glimpse of Philips' Android based phone. The phone is rumoured to have been code named V808.



The images of the phone powered by Google's Android OS was leaked on a Chinese website which claimed to have got a prototype of the product and would soon review it. This initial information on the claims its dimensions to be 115×61x14mm. V808 will come with a 3.2-inch HVGA (Half-size VGA) display of 480x320 pixels. The phone will also come with a 3.2 mega pixel camera with video recording facilities and built in GPS / WiFi.

The phone will be initially sold in China where Philips is famous for its making extremely long standby phone. The phone is focusing on the GPS side of things to have a competitive edge over its rivals. Philips V808 will offer new GPS software along with a mounting kit for your car. Unlike HTC’s Sense User Interface, the Philips V808 will use the default Android user interface and touch sensitive buttons below the display screen.

This will also serve as a huge boost for Google's Android OS as the technology giant hasn't been able to capture the market share it would have liked to. With manufacturers like Nokia under its kitty Symbian OS is still holding lion's share in the smart phone market.. Philips will serve as another shot in the arm for Google after HTC, Samsung, LG and Motorola plan to launch more Android based phone in the near future

Philips V808 won’t be called V808 when it hits the stands due to the leakage of the name. There are rumours that it might be branded as Xenium branding during its launch. It remains to be seen if the technology giant can create a storm in the mobile market with V808 or bite dust even this time around.

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Thursday, July 30, 2009

Microsoft marries Yahoo to fight Google

By: Subhadeep Bhattacharjee

The Great Internet War has just intensified with Microsoft and Yahoo joining forces to wage a war against industry giant Google. Both Microsoft and Yahoo consummated their on and off courtship to sign up for an online venture to taken on Google. The proposed 10-year deal deal however faces tough scrutiny from antitrust regulators, who frequently have rejected deals that reduce three major market players to two. It will not take effect until antitrust approval is granted.

Under the agreement, web sites from both companies would use Microsoft's recently launched Bing search technology. In short Yahoo will now be powered by Microsoft. Yahoo would handle worldwide sales of premium search-related advertising for both companies. The deal allows Microsoft to gain access to Yahoo's substantial traffic. Microsoft will thus pay its partner 88 percent of the search revenues generated on Yahoo sites.

Advertising executives around the world have given a thumbs up to the deal. Experts predict that it will provide marketers with more bang against Google and give the advertisers a good option to choose against Google. They are terming it as balance into the search and display markets as Google almost had a monopoly till now. The online advertising industry which currently stands at $30 billion is expected to double in the next five years.

Yahoo and Microsoft together account for about 28 percent of Internet searches performed while market leader Google is way ahead with 65 percent market share. Bing which was launched by Microsoft is seeing some encouraging signs with its market share increasing over its predecessor Live Search. Now with Bing and Yahoo not competing against one another they might grab a bigger piece of pie and dent some bit on Google.

Interesting both Microsoft and Yahoo have come together after having individually failed to cause any injury to Google. Microsoft and Google have been engaged in a battle ever since Microsoft launched the Bing search engine. Google replied it announcing their Crome Operating System. Not to be left behind Microsoft answered back with announcement of free Office 2010 to take on Google Docs. Only time will tell if the marriage of convenience between Microsoft and Yahoo can cause any damage to Google.

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Wednesday, July 29, 2009

India goofed up the joint declaration with Pakistan

By: Subhadeep Bhattacharjee

The joint declaration between Prime Minister Dr. Manmohan Singh and his Pakistani counterpart Yousuf Raza Gilani can be literally called a cheap sell out to Pakistan. In fact many leaders of the UPA have criticised the joint declaration between India and Pakistan at Sharm-el-Sheikh on the sides of the NAM summit. The declaration seemed to have been drafted by the Pakistanis with Dr Manmohan Singh without understanding the implications of it.

The biggest goof up was made when Dr Manmohan Singh accepted that action on terrorism should not be linked to the Composite Dialogue process. This means that India and Pakistan would be engaged in bilateral talks even if Pakistan takes no concrete steps against terrorists operating from its soil. This literally means that Pakistan has de-linked terrorism from the talks with India. Terrorism which has been a bone of contention between the two countries for over two decades now can no longer stall bilateral talks.

Another controversial topic has been on the issue of Pakistan's troubled province Balochistan. In the joint declaration India and Pakistan have agreed to work towards peace in the trouble Baloch province. How can the Indian government be involved in Balochistan when it has no links with the terrorism there. This gives Pakistan a chance to point figures at India for encouraging covert operations inside Balochistan and grade RAW on the lines of its dreaded spy agency ISI. The fallout of this, Pakistan is now accusing India for the attack on the Sri Lankan cricket team.
Nobody doubts Dr. Manmohan Singh's sincerity towards having peace with Pakistan which is extremely important for India's growth but he should not forget he is dealing with a rouge nation. It may sound harsh on all the Pakistanis but the truth is Pakistan has always back stabbed India. Let us not forget what happened after former Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee drove a bus to Lahore and signed the historic Lahore declaration. Pakistan replied us with Kargil.

The truth is whenever Pakistan has been in a catch 22 situation it has called for such declarations with India. Be it Lal Bahadur Shastri in Tashkent or Indira Gandhi in Shimla, Pakistan has always got away due to the generosity of the Indian leaders. We are dealing with a rouge state and we need to always keep that in mind and stop falling to their peace bait. Dr. Manmohan's intentions might have been to have peace in the region but the fact is we have horribly messed up the Join Declaration.

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Tuesday, July 28, 2009

We lack basic city infrastructure

By: Subhadeep Bhattacharjee

The 69mm rain in New Delhi was enough to cripple the National Capital for hours which also took away the lives of 10 people. This is not an isolated occurrence, from Mumbai to Bangalore and from Kolkata to Surat all our major cities seem to lack basic infrastructure. Sadly, this phenomena is not restricted to only metros but every small and big city and town in the country faces floods and water logging due to the lack of a proper drainage system.

History has shown us that the Great river valley civilizations in Harappa and Mesopotamia had understood the importance of water drainage and built their cities to drain out the water. It may surprise many but the Harappan civilization had built covered underground drainage system 3000 years ago. Proper drains let alone the covered ones are a distant dream in most of our cities and towns especially in the smaller ones.

It seems very ironical that the we wait for the monsoon for the entire year and when finally the skies open up we curse it for causing floods and water logging. Most of our town and cities face severe water shortage for most of the year yet we have done very little towards water harvest. We just allow the abundant supply water which comes our way to flood our cities and they make their way into the oceans leaving us dry for most of the year.

The city planners seem to be more interested in building flyovers and metros and shopping malls. These are seen as an yardstick to judge the vibrancy of our cities. Their obsession with these superstructures is so much that tend to ignore the basic issue of drainage. With all the satellite images and facility of Global Positioning System we still haven't been able to protect the low lying areas in all the major big cities which get flooded every monsoon.

All our cities have something called a 'Master Plan' to meet with the demands of a growing city. But our execution has been so poor that each year the loopholes seem to magnify. The civil society also contributes its share to the problem by not adhering to the building norms set by the the city planners. What we need is not bigger infrastructures but basic infrastructure.

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Monday, July 27, 2009

Has anything changed since Kargil?

By: Subhadeep Bhattacharjee

The nation observed the 10th Anniversary of the victory at Kargil yesterday. For one day the people and media drove their attention from the politicians, the never ending recession and reality shows to the men in uniform. It is just another fact that on all other days we hardly bother to think about the soldiers sitting in the icy heights of Siachen, the jungles of North East or the deserts of Rajasthan. For many of us soldiers are nothing but professionals who are being paid to their job.

The Government and bureaucracy on its part has always glorified the Kargil war to hide the loopholes that led to the conflict. Former Pakistani President Gen Musharraf who had choreographed the entire intrusion has said that Kargil was success for Pakistan as India started taking Kashmir seriously thereafter. Although Indian establishment will refuse to accept this argument there is surely some half-truth in his story.

Kargil caught us unaware but the bravery and camaraderie of our soldiers and young officers saved the day for us 10 years back. It was a failure on the part of the top brass of the armed forces and intelligence. Senior officers sitting in the forward bases were found to be medically unfit. The soldiers lacked proper clothing, arms and ammunition in the initial stages of the war. The Air Forces was called in late as many Army commanders felt it was against their honour to seek help in what they thought was just another intrusion.

The government did not have enough coffins to send the bodies to the martyrs to their homes. An US firm provided with the coffins not before it had paid bribe to Indian officials to get the deal. The soldiers did not have snow boots and in many case climbed the icy peaks bare foot when their leather boots turned slippery. They did not have night vision binoculars to deal with the enemy at night. Most of the advanced patrols did not even have artillery cover to save their lives.

The defence purchase that the government makes are less need based and more greed based on part of the middle man. India is buying a $2 billion dollar aircraft carrier where as we have lost more soldiers in counter insurgency operations and guerilla warfare than in the four major battles we have fought since independence. Aren't bulletproof jackets and better weapon more necessary than having a aircraft carrier which may never see action in its service life.

10 years on we should have learnt more lessons from the Kargil war considering the hostile neighbourhood that surrounds us. But things aren't any different now and if there is a conflict the men in uniform will be sent not to win a war but to die. Do we honour our soldiers? Have we done enough to save valuable lives in the event of a conflict? The answer of both these questions are not just sad but are a national shame.

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Sunday, July 26, 2009

A scene out of Kabab's case...

By: Subhadeep Bhattacharjee

This is a courtroom proceeding of terror case involving terrorist Makhmal Kabab. He has been booked under the (Prevention of Sea Surfacing Terror Act). Public Prosecutor is Jaljal Bhukamp and the Defence Lawyer is Khaskhas UseMe

Judge: we can start with the proceedings now. Yes Mr Public Prosecutor

PP: Milord, now I would like to call upon my next witness. The blind cobbler who saw Kabab and his accomplice carry out the attack on the railway station.

Judge: A blind man will now testify in the case?

PP: Milord so many people with vision have testified but we still haven’t come to any conclusion after so I thought a blind man’s confession might mean more trustworthy.
Kabab laughs which surprises all present in the court room

Judge: What makes you laugh?

Kabab: Well the Astayam prices have almost tripled since I had invested in it through some of my contacts. If I can escape all this and go back to my country I will study and become a lawyer you see I have got so much of knowledge over the last few months.

PP: I don’t believe this we have booked you under the harshest of charges and you are investing on our stock markets and feel you can just walk home.

Kabab: Everybody says this is a good time to invest in the Indian stock markets right?
The recovery is on and if my case goes on for another six months I can easily make five times my initial investment. See back home we can’t make so much money in the stock markets.

Judge: Mr Kabab you are wasting the court’s time with your unnecessary talks. Will you please remain silent so that we can proceed with the case?

Kabab: Just one last request, I am done with my toothpaste stock. Can you make sure I get it by tomorrow? I am bit hygiene conscious you see. By the way I have a suggestion why don’t you get the jumbo family pack from Small Bazaar I heard they give you Rs 12 off and moreover it will last for another three months.

PP: This is outrageous I cannot believe we are debating this in the court
(The public prosecutor than says to himself we haven’t debated anything else either in the last four months of proceedings)

Judge: Mr Kabab we will argue with the topics related only to the case in the courtroom. So just remain silent or else we will consider it as a contempt of court.

The blind witness testifies in front of the judge and the Defence lawyer xx gets a chance to question him

Defence: If you are blind how did you see Kabab shoot?

PP: I object your honour. But for what I don’t know!!!

Judge: What do you mean you don’t know what your objection is for?

PP: Well Ram Pagal Germa asked me to object his assistant sitting in the last row is writing a script for his upcoming movie Mumbai Par Atank Raj

Kabab: Cut that short. I want to confess that all the charges against me are true. I along with my accomplice carried out the attack in the railway station and also killed the cops.

Judge: How come you are confessing now? Are you under any pressure?

Kabab: I was, RPG had asked me to act in the court so that I can star in his next movie. I was just giving my screen test in the courtroom. His assistant has signalled that I have cleared the test. Moreover the last few months I have been witnessing this nonsense of court room and I think I am tired.

Judge: Mr Defence Lawyer, do you want to proceed with your court examination of the witness?

Defence: Yes Milord I am still not done with my screen test for RPG so I have to continue with the case. By the way I think I can get a small role for you too if I am onboard.

Kabab: Excuse Judge sahib can I get a few days of holiday I want to visit my parents.

Judge: Please keep quite. Mr Public Prosecutor do you have any questions for Kabab?

PP: I wasn’t prepared for his confession so I will need a few days of time to prepare for my questions.

Judge: The court is adjourned till next Monday.

While moving out of the court Kabab is excited having cleared RPG’s screen test while the Defence and Public Prosecutor are still trying the get a chance in the movie. The Judge goes and meets RPG’s assistant……This case surely has many more important things to come.

For more funny posts read Funny Stuff

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Saturday, July 25, 2009

Living the European Dreams but still being an Indian

By: Reetasri Bhattacharjee


One can’t deny that the European countries are just awesome. Look at the spectacular, picturesque landscapes, waterscapes and even the people. Everything looks picture perfect, out of fairy tales, something that just does not belong to this world (atleast not the “world” we live in). As Indians we are one dirty community, spitting on the roads is just normal, finding no dustbins throwing things on the roads is just a way of life and lets not even mention the habits of the our men urinating on the streets.

As human beings we are good, successful. We know how to make a life for ourselves. Education has helped us further in improving ourselves. (Let me just clarify, here by “we” I primarily mean the middle class and the upper middle class. I am not even getting into the major section of the population who are poor and without education). But when it comes to social awareness or even responsibility we prefer ignoring and turning a deaf ear towards them. If we hadn’t would not we make an attempt to keep our surroundings clean, be hygienic in the way we behave on the roads?

India is a very beautiful country. Very few countries have the diversity that we Indians often boast of. We have the mountains, we have the hills, we have the desert and we also have the seas and oceans. Our lands are filled with jewels in the form of minerals, soil quality and yet we don’t want to take care of it. Is it that we are not proud of what we have and always long for what others have? It is true that the grass is always greener on the other side but our grass isn’t bad either!! If we all start taking a stand and make our small efforts we too can have a clean and beautiful country. It is time to stop blaming the government (yes, they are to be blamed) and move on and see how things can be changed if we try.

As I am writing this, a thought just came to my mind. While visiting the many malls in the city one thing that comes out is that they are very clean. They just don’t fit into the otherwise dirty surroundings. Sweepers are always on the toes cleaning and making the area spic and span. We on our parts are also conscious not to litter the area and show how “classy” we are. But as soon as we step outside our etiquette goes down the drain and we begin our littering spree. Are the malls the real India or are our streets real India? It is time we shed our hypocrisy and behave in a similar manner whether it is inside a mall or on the streets.

As an Indian I hope the day comes when seeing India on television I can boast of clean roads, sparkling buildings, clear skies. Let them not fade away into a dream never to come true.

This blog has been contributed by Reetasri Bhattacharjee a dear friend of mine. She is a regular blogger on blogspot and maintains the blog My Passing Moments

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Friday, July 24, 2009

Do we need a broadcast code?

By: Subhadeep Bhattacharjee

Information & Broadcasting Ministry recently issued a show-cause notice to Star Plus for its latest reality show Sach ka Saamna. This after there was an uproar in the Parliament over the obscene content being aired on the channel. This is just another episode of many where broadcasters are airing indecent content on the small screen to gain high TRP raitings.

In the name of Reality Shows the broadcasters are airing content which is definitely not suitable for unrestricted public exhibition. From the MTV Roadies to the Splitsville and now Sach Ka Saamna obscenity (which many will read as boldness) has reached new heights. Back bitching, use of foul languages form the core of such Reality Shows. The question which arises is do we need a broadcast code?

I&B Minister Ambika Soni had do far favoured self-regulation by the broadcasters but the ministry has time and again seen this leniency is being misused. There are suggestions that the government could set up a a task force and create a National Broadcast Code (NBC). The task force will comprise of News Broadcasters' Association (NBA) and Indian Broadcasting Federation (IBF) to monitor television content.

Interestingly movies have to pass through the eyes of the Central Board of Film Certification (CBFC) but the television content doesn't have any level of scrutiny. Many broadcasters take advantage of this fact and air obscene content on General Entertainment Channels (GEC) during Prime Time. The content it at times so raunchy that it causes major embarrassment if two different generations of people watch it together.

Another thing that needs to be kept in mind is India still has a one home one television concept. Thus television serves as a living room media and the content needs to be unrestricted public exhibition. The argument is definitely not to ban adult content on television. They can definitely be aired at what is known as the 'Late Fringe' is US or after 11 PM. But these sort of content definitely shouldn't find their way into 'Prime Time' television.

Now many would say this as an interference in the day to day functioning of a media house and some would even term this law as a tool to protect our cultural hypocrisy. But again with so many violations happening time and again the government has been left with no choice but to take such harsh steps. It's a fact that the concept behind many of the reality shows do not fall in place with the common culture in the country. At the end of the day we cannot deny being Indians can we?

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Thursday, July 23, 2009

Does this have any end?

By: Reetasri Bhattacharjee

Reality programmes have become a part and parcel of television today. From the days of [V] Popstars which some claim to be the first “real” Reality programme, to today’s overtly real shows, this genre has made everyone sit up and take notice. There was a time when the long running series of Sa Re Ga Ma and Antakshari, were the predecessors of this genre of programming. Today reality television has totally taken over other genres on television. Channels like Colors, Real came into existence because of reality shows. Today these programmes are becoming more voyeuristic than ever.

If there were programmes like Kaun Banega some 7-8 years Crorepati (that in todays’ context will be an innocent programme) today it’s about someone getting married on television (read Rakhi Ka Swayamvar) or someone telling the truth on television (Sach Ka Saamna). And for the past few years’ programmes like Roadies have been the best show for youth. MTV, which produces programmes like Roadies, is the youth television of India with reality shows like Splitsville (a very pathetic programmes if I may add) which always manages to get top TRP’s and the recent started Stunt Mania.

With this seasons reality shows up on the block, our MP’s in Rajya Sabha have taken a stand and voiced how shows like “Sach Ka Samna” are against our culture and denies all tastes of decency and goodness that as Indians we are quite proud off. This has sparked a new controversy and the concerned channel has been sent a notice asking for a justification for doing such a show. It is high time that voice should be raised against these pathetic programmes. On the name of reality they portray anything. Bitching, backbiting, use of foul language have been made a part of our society now. Otherwise why would a show like “Splitsvilla” survive which makes a complete mockery of the concept of love or even why would everyone glue to their television sets to know who Rakhi Sawant is getting married to? Saying anything about “Sach Ka Samna” will require the use of words that would not be acceptable in a platform like this.

Interestingly, all these programmes are adaptations of concepts from other countries. This just goes to show that such concepts have universal appeal and can work anywhere. They also work because as social animals we like to know what is happening to others and get immense pleasure in their discomfort and sometimes also in their happiness. But it is the time to draw a line between what is pleasurable and what becomes obscene. It is time that the MP’s and even the common man speaks up and says that these things cannot be accepted anymore. The producers cannot bring out anything on the name of entertainment. This needs to be stopped somewhere and surely the time has come.

This blog has been contributed by Reetasri Bhattacharjee a dear friend of mine. She is a regular blogger on blogspot and maintains the blog My Passing Moments

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Kasab's court room drama continues...

By: Subhadeep Bhattacharjee

A group of gunman enter our country breaching all the possible security nets. They kill hundreds of people and security forces in three days. One of them is caught alive but when his trial begins he makes a mockery of the court room proceedings smiling in the most intense situation. One fine day he confesses all his crime and stuns the entire world and his very own lawyer. But we are still unable to deliver judgement in the case.

India's most celebrated terrorist had exposed the loopholes in India's security system last November and now he is exposing the loopholes in the criminal justice system in India. We had people talking about waging a war against Pakistan after the Mumbai attack but this country seems to lack the intent of trying out a person responsible for killing hundreds of innocent people. Our judicial system is showing signs of being incapable of bringing Kasab to task.

Now if all the drama wasn't enough Kasab's lawyer Abbas Kazmi said he was willing to withdraw from the case as his client has lost faith in him. If Abbas quits he will be the second lawyer after Anjali Waghmare to quit the case. This will mean more delay in the case which is already seeing enough delays. Appointing a lawyer will prove to be difficult as many lawyers do not want to take up the case and those who do face opposition from certain political groups.

If there is ever a custodial death of a criminal the Human Rights commission are the first to make noise. Why don't they raise voice against the regular delay in the case? Aren't the victims of these terror attacks human enough to expect some justice? Why shouldn't the security force kill the terrorist instead of taking them into custody if the justice system in the country moves at snail's pace? Why should victims approach courts if a case like Kasab's takes so much time?

Its high time we wake up and change our outdated system of court proceedings. People sitting across the border are waging a war against us and here were are not able to try out India's biggest terror catch ever. Should we boast about a democracy and a judiciary which cannot deliver justice in time? Or are we waiting for a Kandhar like incident to happen?

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Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Should we take the Kalam incident lying down?

By: Subhadeep Bhattacharjee

A day after there was huge uproar in the Parliament regarding the humiliation former President APJ Abdul Kalam at the IGI Airport by Continental Airlines, the airline has issued an apology. The airline had violated the protocol with respect to the Indian laws which exempt dignitaries like former presidents, ex-PMs, and Chief Justice of India from being frisked at airports. Dr. Kalam was made to take off his shoes and undergo a security check at Delhi airport before boarding flight CO 083 to Newark on Apr 21.

The Aviation authority on Tuesday had filed an FIR against Continental Airlines for this violation. Now this apology from the Continental Airlines will come as a welcome relief for the government as the opposition was nailing them over the issue. Also the fact that Dr Kalam did not want to comment on the issue showed that the People's President was upset about the issue. This is not first time that Indian dignitaries have been meted out such treatment by the authorities of United States of America.

In 2003, the then Defence Minister George Fernandes was also made to undergo security screening in the US as the authorities thought kurta-clad Fernandes might pose a threat to their country. Could we have done the same to US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton during her recent visit? Gujarat CM Narendra Modi has been denied a visa as he is accused of conducting genocide in Gujarat. George George Bush's policies surely have taken more lives. Can we deny him a visa citing genocide in Iraq and Afghanistan?

Now the big question arises should we take such things lying down? Many would argue that since Continental has issued an apology the case should rest. But shall we accept such treatment by foreigners in our own land in the name of security. Its a well known fact that America has created a cloud of insecurity around itself to wage wars against defenceless nations like Iraq and Afganisthan but under no circumstance should we become victims for their questionable security measures.

The Indian Government should not close the case and be content with the apology. If Dr. Kalam can be treated in such a manner what about an ordinary Indian flying to US? This is a clear case of exploitation by a country due to its superiority attitude. The issue concerns the honour and pride of individuals who travel to such countries everyday. The Indian Government has no right to play this down in the name of diplomacy.

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Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Kasab acts like Pakistan's ambassador

By: Subhadeep Bhattacharjee

The 26/11 case took a complete new turn with the main accused Mohammed Ajmal Amir Kasab making a full confessional statement about his role in the 26/11 terror attack. Kasab who for spokes four and a half hours gave minute details of how the attack was planned and executed. He said that the attack was planned by dozens of Lashkar-e-Taiba (LeT) operatives in Pakistan. He also accepted the charges of going on a rampage at CST station and Cama Hospital with his partner Abu Ismail.

Kasam's admission of the crime not only stunned the prosecution and the judge but his own lawyer Abbas Kazmi who said he had no clue about this. When the judge asked him about his sudden change of mind Kasab replied “Pehle Pakistan ne yeh nahi mana tha ki main unka hoon. Aaj maan liya hai. Isiliye main bayan de raha hoon. (Initially, Pakistan had not accepted my nationality. Now that they have, I’m confessing).

This statement of Kasab will make any ambassador to a foreign country proud. Ambassadors generally do not have their own opinion on issues and stick to the line of opinion the political leadership in their country shapes. All this while Kasab was making a mockery of the trial by smiling while the witnesses recognised him in the court. He would demand toothpastes and perfume during the intense moments of the trail causing anguish to people present at the proceedings.

Pakistan on its part has arrested and filed charge sheet against some of the accused in the 26/11 case. This has been a smart diplomatic move by Pakistan as the Indian government cannot accuse it of not acting against the perpetrators of terror. At the same time Pakistan gets the sympathy of the international community. Over the last few years Pakistan has tried to portray itself as a victim of terror to escape being declared a terrorist state.

Now the big question arise is how long will Kasab's trail last after his own confession. But thanks to the laid back prosecution the case has been adjourned as the prosecution sought time to file its reply on his confession. The family members of the victims of 26/11 attack will hope that justice is delivered soon and the harshest of punishment given to Kasab. If the judicial system in our country cannot do so its a slap on their face.

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Monday, July 20, 2009

Will the moon controversy finally rest?

By: Subhadeep Bhattacharjee

If the biggest controversies of the last century are listed the NASA's Moon Landings will definitely be among the top. Apollo 11's landing on the moon stated America's superiority in the space race over the erstwhile Soviet Union. But many believed man never set his foot on the moon and the entire episode was fake and filmed on the earth. 40 years on the controversy refuses to die propelling news channels like Fox News to air the famous documentary 'Did we land on the moon?'

There was a saying in America “If you can't make it, fake it”. Many believed NASA made the most expensive movie ever by showing man's landing on moon which was filmed in America's heavily guarded Area 51 in Nevada desert . The footage and the pictures collected from the moon are full of inconsistencies and this has given the conspiracy theories over generations an opportunity to raise doubts over the authenticity of the moon mission. Some of the questions raised were

  • Why has there been no manned mission to the moon since 1972 with all the advancement in technology?
  • Why did USSR not send a man to the moon although they were ahead of USA in the space race?
  • Who took Neil Armstrong's picture coming out of the craft if he was the first man to land on the moon?
  • How does a US flag flutter in moon where there is no air? How does it appear bright when it was shot against the light?
  • Why do the shadows intersect and point to multiple light source where sun was the only known source of light?
  • Why is there no blast crater under the booster rocket which landed with a 17 tonne thrust where as the astronauts' foot marks have been pictured?
  • A camera panned upwards and shot the Lunar Landerlifting off the Moon. Who did the filming?
  • How did the astronauts always get perfect pictures with their chest mounted camera which had no viewfinders?

NASA has never been able to give scientific explanation to these questions although time and again they have dismissed these arguments as baseless. Now new photos of the moon have shown the leftovers from man’s exploration 40 years ago. This is for the first time any evidence of the landings has surfaced. The Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter launched last month has relayed such pictures back to the earth. It has even pictured tracks made by astronauts on the lunar surface.

Will these images silence the conspiracy theorists? Well the answer may be a clear NO as its the same NASA which is releasing these pictures. If NASA had pulled off the biggest hoax 40 years ago what prevents them from doing one again now? But at a time when 40th year of the Moon Landings are being celebrated by NASA the conspiracy still refuses to die. Perhaps some other space agency can throw some light on the issue in the future.

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Saturday, July 18, 2009

Is Android the next big thing in India?

By: Subhadeep Bhattacharjee

India is one of the fastest growing cellular markets in the world and off late the Smart Phone market in the county has shown an upward trend. Google is now trying to cash in on India’s lucrative Smart Phone market. The company is going great guns with its operating system (OS) Android and the top Smart Phone manufacturers HTC, Samsung, LG and Motorola planning to roll out sets on the Android platform soon.

HTC which is the first company among the lot to roll out Android sets has received favourable response in India. The company says Android's internet driven mobility and the touch factor adds novelty to the HTC sets. Other companies are not far behind and LG and Motorola’s products are also likely to hit the market by December. Now the big question that arises is will this movie to Android hurt Symbian OS which is has the lion's share in the market?

Symbian OS is undoubtedly the leaders of the Smart Phone market in India. The successful launch of Apple's iPhone in Europe and North America meant that Symbian had lost substantial market share. But a relatively higher price tag attached with iPhone in India meant that Symbian still has grip over the market. The low end Smart Phone is huge in volume in India and Symbian OS holds the lion's share here.

With the entry of Android the race has become interesting. But will it be easy for Android to topple Symbian from the market? Well that doesn't seem possible in the immediate future. Symbian has a saving grace in the fact that India's largest cellular phones manufacturer Nokia is still using its operating system for its range of Smart Phone. Nokia had also rubbished rumours that it was dumping Symbian and taking up Android as its preferred platform for advanced mobile devices

Well the key to grabbing the Indian markets definitely lies in manufacturing affordable phone coupled with a user friendly operating system. With the HTCs, Samsungs, LGs and Motorolas moving towards Android Google will surely pose a serious threat to the Symbian OS. Only time will tell if Google Android but topples Symbian OS in India.

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Friday, July 17, 2009

Bengal likely to see violence till 2011

By: Subhadeep Bhattacharjee

The recent spate of violence in West Bengal by the Congress workers protesting against the assault on eight Congress MLAs by alleged CPI(M) cadres may be just the trailer of a long movie. The political entropy in the state is so high these incidents of violence are most likely continue till the 2011 Assembly. A huge political uncertainly is looming over the state and political parties are all out to show their muscle power ahead of the most crucial assembly elections in the state.

Six months back nobody could have predicted the lack luster performance by the Left Front in the Lok Sabha polls. But with successive losses in the Gram Panchyat, Lok Sabha and Municipal elections Left Fort seems shaken in West Bengal. Having drawn first blood in the Lok Sabha poll the Congress and TMC combine is in no mood to let them go. The people in the state also seem to have seen enough of the Red Brigade and their mandate in the successive elections have shown that.

Left Front is at its lowest since it assumed power in 1977 but it will not go down without giving a serious fight. A three decade old regime won't let the power go off that easily. The ground level cadres that the Left Front has patronised for years are resorting to hooliganism time and again. The opposition parties are no better and answering them in the same language. People who hoped for a wind of change to blow across the state are living the harsh realities of the pathetic state politics in West Bengal.

The main problem lies with the kind of political culture that has evolved in the state over the years. All the parties are responsible for making politics an act of street violence rather than being played out at the assembly. The Left Front has to take major share of the blame having been in power for so long. Torching of a few buses and pelting of stones is no longer considered unusual in West Bengal. The administration sees this as a normal law and order problem which happens everyday in some or the other part of the state.

The victims as usual are the citizens of the state who have to face the heat of political battles as well live with underdevelopment due to absence of investment. The people of the state for long have faced the apathy of a political front which never accepted that world around them was changing. Now they have to face a new challenge in their everyday lives when the rival political factions resort to hooliganism in the order to gain supremacy.

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Thursday, July 16, 2009

Bing eating up Yahoo's share

By: Subhadeep Bhattacharjee

Microsoft Corp's latest baby Bing had set out to topple Goolge as the world's most preferred search engine. But almost a month since its launch it seems to have dented more of Yahoo's market share and caused very little injury to Google. According to the latest data research firm ComScore Microsoft captured 8.4 percent of US Internet searches in June up from 8 percent in May. This slight increase has come largely at the expense Yahoo Inc, whose market share fell to 19.6 percent in June from 20.1 percent in May. Big Daddy of search engine Google still holds 65 percent of the market.

Some analysts feel this is a good show by Microsoft as the technology giant was constantly loosing its market share with its erstwhile Live Search. Given all the publicity that happened around the launch of Bing it is expected to make a month-on-month increase. They however warn it will be premature to predict Bing's future now and may be three to four months down the line a clearer picture would emerge. The reviews of the Bing have been positive and most technology experts believe Bing is the best search engine to have come out of Microsoft's stable.

Microsoft however would not mind giving a few blows to Yahoo. It may be recalled that Microsoft had offered to buy Yahoo a year back but the company's board resisted the takeover. Microsoft believed having Yahoo under its belt could have given it a better platform to take on Google in the internet search and advertisement market. Microsoft was so desperate for Yahoo that there were rumours that Microsoft had almost planned for a hostile takeover of Yahoo's board. However there are many people who still believe there are still possibility of Microsoft striking a partnership with Yahoo.

In the last few months the grand technology battle between Microsoft and Google seems to have peaked. Microsoft took on Google with its search engine Bing. Google gave a fitting reply when it announced the launch of Google Chrome OS which may launch simultaneously with Windows 7. Microsoft did not take this lying down and announced a free online version of Office 2010 for home users to take on Google's much publicised Google Docs. Well in all this the biggest beneficiary would definitely be the end users.

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Wednesday, July 15, 2009

The Big 'Technology' Fight

By: Reetasri Bhattacharjee

Even since man took his fist step on the planet he has fought for supremacy. He started fighting the animals for food and then fought with other man over sharing of food. Slowly man evolved and fought for kingdoms and then for countries. But with the industrial revolution man fought over technology. The biggest, the longest and the fastest became the world wars. In the era of information technology Google and Microsoft have wedged a battle ever since Google came into the picture in the late 90s.

The battle began with full force when Google on its official blog announced that by the end of 2010, they would be introducing their own Operating System- Google Chrome OS. This was seen as an open challenge to Microsoft, the biggest players in the market when it comes to OS. Nearly 90% of the users around the world use Microsoft OS. Google claims to build an OS that will be “the thing” to use for people who use the computer mostly to connect to the World Wide Web. “Speed, simplicity and security are the key aspects of Google Chrome OS”, so says the official blog of Google. They want to make it as user-friendly as possible (keeping their trademark on user friendly applications).

Now Microsoft, in a counter-attack, has announced that it will make its Office application free for the web. This is in reply to Google Docs, launched about three years back. About two months back Microsoft had also launched Bing, a re-launch of sorts of Microsoft Live again to compete Google’s search engine.

When Google entered the internet market MSN had the lion's share of the market along with Yahoo Inc but the California based company revolutionized the way people searched on the net. Google no longer remained a search engine it became a verb as far as internet search is concerned. Both the computer giants are venturing into each others terrains and trying to topple the other. Google is now an established firm when it comes to the World Wide Web. Today almost everyone “Google’s out information”. Googling is on. It will be very difficult to remove Google from its area. Similarly, Microsoft has been the Big Daddy since its start about three decades ago. It captured the market and home-users, businesses preferred (and still does) using their OS and other softwares like Office, Media Player. But when it came to internet, it always had difficultly. Though it managed to take over Mosiacs market in the Internet Browser market, soon it had to bow to Netscape Navigator and Mozilla Firefox.

This is just the beginning of the war and it will surely continue and get fiercer in the coming days. With new promises and launches from both the stables, who wins this battle only time can tell. Till then, we the users can happily be taking the advantages of both the companies!!!

This blog has been contributed by Reetasri Bhattacharjee a dear friend of mine. She is a regular blogger on blogspot and maintains the blog My Passing Moments

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When Ponting talks about 'Spirit of the Game'!

By: Subhadeep Bhattacharjee

How would it sound when if staunch capitalist talks about labour reforms or a drug dealer talks about humanity. The words which can describe such an event would be SURPRISING, STRANGE, SHOCKING etc. The cricketing world was surprised when Ricky Ponting spoke about believe it or not 'Spirit of the Game'. Of all the cricketers in the world now it was the Aussie captain to preach 'Spirit of the Game'.

A frustrated Ponting said this at a press conference after England denied them a victory at Cardiff using some negative tactics. The Englishman took too many drinks break and charged the gloves too often in the crucial last hour of the final day to delay the game. In the end it worked for England and James Anderson along with Monty Panesar held the match for almost an hour. Their 11 over partnership denied the Aussie the crucial last wicket and chance to go one up in the series.

True what the England team did in the last hour looked absurd to a cricket fan but who is Ricky Ponting to talk about 'Spirit of the Game'? Has he forgotten the numerous number on dropped catches that he and his team-mates have claimed? Doesn't he recall incidents where he has argued with the umpire over decisions? Has he forgotten the art of sledging which has been Australia's biggest gift to cricket since the days of Sir Donald Bradman?

If the Australian team can term sledging and abusing as a tactic for 'mental disintegration' why do they scream when their opponent uses a time delaying tactics. The problem with the Aussies is they cannot take back the medicine they so happily distribute around the globe. Ricky Ponting might have a short memory but it was not too long ago that famous Aussie columnist Peter Roebuck had said “Ponting had turned a group of professional cricketers into a pack of wild dogs”

Ricky Ponting's desperation to win the Ashes can be understood, after all he is the first Aussie captain to loose a Ashes series in the last two decades. He had to bite dust in the last Ashes tour in England and wants to win at any cost this time. He should concentrate more on managing his own boys rather than preach 'Spirit of the Game' to others. He should realise one hard fact and that is cricket is no longer a 'Gentleman's Game' and a lot of credit for it surely goes to the Aussies.

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Tuesday, July 14, 2009

China to attack India by 2012?

By: Subhadeep Bhattacharjee

A leading defence expert has projected that China will attack India by 2012. Bharat Verma, Editor of the Indian Defence Review said that China will do this to divert the attention of its own people from "unprecedented" internal dissent. The Communist regime fears that growing unemployment and financial problems may lead to a mass uprising against it. A war with India may be a tactical solution to divert attention and hold the country together under its regime.

The recent violence between the Han Chinese and the Muslim Uighurs in Urumqi in the troubled Xinjiang province of China has exposed the seriousness of China's internal conflict. The world which hardly know what goes beyond the 'Great Wall' got a glimpse of the Chinese fundamentalists who are posing a serious threat to Chinese Communists regime. The Muslim Uighurs who are demanding for a separate nation in Northwest part of Xinjiang province for many years are rumoured to have links with the Al-Qaeda.

The Communist regime in China is now seeing early signs of decay. From the might Soviet Union to the countries behind the 'Iron Curtain' had seen similar signs before their fall in the early 90s. There is a growing dissent among the common Chinese against the regime and it is no longer a secret to the outside world. The regime's fear can be understood by the fact that they have sanitised the entire media including the internet and wants to control the content being written and read by the people.

With its internal security in turmoil a war with India might be a good option to unite the country. China has for long seen India as its biggest competitor in race for global supremacy by 2025. Time and again China has tried to neutralise India's race for global supremacy by issuing threats all along its eastern borders in Arunachal Pradesh and Sikkim and supporting Pakistan in its proxy war against India in the last two decades.

With Pakistan loosing teeth in its proxy war against India due to internal conflicts China might engage in a direct military conflict against India. China's race for supremacy doesn't allow it to have a vibrant economy in India couple with one of the largest defence force in the world. Also India's proximity with the United States and other Western European nations is becoming a major cause of worry for China. It also fears that the road to America's diplomacy might have to pass through India in the near future.

There is also a counter argument on this rumour and many believe this threat is deliberately spread by arms dealers to push India into a arms race. Which ever side may be correct on the issue small and localised military conflicts between the two Asian giants cannot be ruled out in the future. Pakistan's decay might make China and India match eyeballs all along the McMahon Line in the East. After all Power respects Power but Power cannot tolerate another Power.

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Monday, July 13, 2009

Whom will Rakhi marry next season?

By: Subhadeep Bhattacharjee

If you ask any toddler what is the television program he likes watching on Television don't be surprised if he answers Reality Shows instead of the good old Cartoon. Such has been the intrusion of reality shows in our lives via the 'Idiot Box' that we don't want to watch scripted serials and sitcoms any more. These shows keep us busy with voting for the contestants and checking with the regular updates on who is eliminated next.

From simple song and dance based competitive shows, reality television has taken giant leaps in the last few years in India. We have had a political reality show Lead India to choose our leader and than the Bigg Boss where celebrities with all their individual egos were made to stay in a house together. But the mother of all reality shows Rakhi Ka Swayamvar is currently on air. Hats off to the creative head behind the show, it couldn't have been any bigger than this.

Television's drama queen Rakhi Sawant will select her prospective husband from 16 contestants who are giving their agni pariksha in each episodes. Somebody once said “marriages are made in heaven”, he surely wasn't a part of the reality television world or else would have added the term 'television studios' to his famous phrase. After all the self-created controversies in her life Rakhi had kept the best for her marriage and the product is Rakhi Ka Swayamvar.

But wait whom will Rakhi marry next season? Well like all reality shows creative bosses behind Rakhi Ka Swayamvar must have conceptualised a season two for the show. Rakhi Ka Swayamvar cannot be done without Rakhi on the show and one thing the audience will swear by is there is no replacement for Rakhi Sawant on the small screen. No Sambhavna Seths or Payal Rohatgis can replace Rakhi on such a platform. So what do the channel bosses do?

Well the solution is to start another follow up reality show like Rakhi Ka Talak or The Great Indian Divorce Show after six months of the completion of Rakhi Ka Swayamvar. One more gem that can be added to the show is Abhishek Awasthi as the host in Rakhi Ka Talak with Ram already doing the honours in Rakhi Ka Swayamvar. This will ensure that there is smooth transition period between the two interlinked reality shows. As for the audience the channel bosses need not worry we all love reality shows don't we?

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Friday, July 10, 2009

Can Google OS shut down Windows

By: Subhadeep Bhattacharjee

Two months back it was Microsoft which challenged Google with its new search engine 'Bing'. Now its time for Google to return the favours to the Big Daddy of computing world. In a official blog the search engine giant has announced it will launch Google Chrome Operating System in the second half of 2010. The operating system is being designed from the ground up to run on the Chrome web browser on netbooks.

Google says the software architecture will basically be the current Chrome browser running inside a new windowing system on top of the good old Linux kernel. This literally means that the web will be be the Operating System. The search engine giant also claims that application will be develop by the users on the web. For example an useer would run a text processing application from the web instead of his system. Chrome OS will be lightweight and fast just like the browser itself.

Sounds all good but the question arises will Google Chrome OS be able to shut down Microsoft Windows which runs on more than 90% of the world computers? Experts differ on their opinion on the topic. Some say Chrome will be a huge challenge for Microsoft but others believe it will take a long time for somebody to topple Microsoft from the Operating Systems market as this is the core business for the company and it will not let it go that easily.

Google wants to cash in on the fact that Windows XP is 8 years old, and Vista is generally considered as a dud from Microsoft's stable. But there is a wild card Windows 7 which is all set for an early release and experts claims it has fixed the flaws of Vista. Microsoft claims Windows 7 will also offer a good netbook experience which Chrome is claiming to be its USP. Google will release the open source code for Chrome OS later this year and it won't be surprising Windows 7 is also launched at the same time.

One more thing that needs to be kept in mind is that Chrome OS will run as an web based application and stand alone PCs and Laptops without internet access will not be able to use it. Considering the low levels of internet penetration in emerging markets like India and China it is quite a risk that Google is taking in making its Operating System. Giants like Dell Computers have regretted ignoring India while strategizing their business earlier in the decade.

Certain things need to be kept in mind before singing praises for the Google Chrome OS. Google had launched the Android with much funfare but it hasn't lived upto the expectation many Google fans had. When Chrome browser was launched last year it got hold of 2% market share in the first two weeks but Mozilla Firefox still remains to be the preferred browser of the internet users. So it will be too early to predict if Google Chrome will be Windows Killer.

Also Read..
Microsoft wants to bang with 'Bing'

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Thursday, July 9, 2009

China now has its own Kashmir

By: Subhadeep Bhattacharjee

The recent violence between the Han Chinese and the Muslim Uighurs in Urumqi in the troubled Xinjiang province of China has exposed the might of the fundamentalists. The Muslim Uighurs are demanding for a separate nation in northwest part of Xinjiang province for many years. Decades of accumulated ethnic tension between the two groups ignited into a full-blown riot. Still in a denial mood China has blamed the Western countries for the sporadic violence in Xinjiang. In many ways Xinjiang has become China's very own Kashmir.

For years China has been in complete denial of India's militancy problems in Kashmir and the North East. Not only has it remained a silent spectator of India's security problem it has directly and indirectly supported terror groups. When the entire world including the US pressurised Pakistan to book the plotters of the Mumbai attack China had little sympathy towards India and it did not even strongly condemn the attacks which was planned by Pakistan's dreaded ISI.

China's stand on Indo-Pak relationship is justified from its own strategic interest. It will want a disturbed Kashmir so that it can always threaten India on the Eastern and the North-Eastern border with its military might. A demilitarized Kashmir would mean that the Chinese military force would have to face some more heat on its Eastern border. Pakistan is nothing more than a tool for China to neutralize India's growing military might.

China is dealing the problem the Chinese way by rushing additional security personnel to Urumqi. The state media has been sanitized and access to mobile phones and the internet has been cut off. The seriousness of the issue can be understood from the fact that Hu Jintao, secretary-general of the Communist Party of China and the country’s President left the G-8 summit in Italy and rushed to Beijing to take stalk of the situation.

The Red Dragon may be in denial mood by the truth is the Xinjiang separatists have been getting training and arms from Pakistan in the Pak-China border. Beijing claims to have evidence that the rioters in Urumqi were getting support from sources based Pakistan, Afghanistan, Kazakhstan and Turkey. It has now appealed to the international community to help unearth links between their local citizens and the World Uyghur Congress which is behind these riots.

India on its part will surely be happy with the developments in China. For years its position on the Kashmir issues has fallen in deaf ears when it came to Beijing. Pakistani hand in the violence in China might sore the relationships between the two nations and India will be in a better position to nail Pakistan on the terrorism issue if it happens. China should come out its denial mood and if it wants peace not in the Indo-Pak border but deep within its own country.

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Wednesday, July 8, 2009

Religion stands between Gays and their Rights

By: Subhadeep Bhattacharjee

It is not too often in India that we see all the religious organizations speak on a common line. During communal riots the government machinery and the civil society compels them to do so. But when they come along and speak on their own shouldn't it be applauded. But the irony is all our religious leaders are standing up against a sexual minority (homosexuals). They are opposed to these people getting their right to live their life the way they wants to.

If the Arch Bishops across the country, the Maulvis across the nation and the priests were not enough small screen's poster boy Baba Ramdev has now joined in the race. Where there is limelight and media coverage how can Baba Ramdev be behind. Not only has he joined the race he also said that homosexuality is a disease that is curable. Now there cannot be a better platform to promote his business. The question arises is heterosexuality also curable? If someone wants a cure for that too.

Since the day Delhi High Court passed the historical judgment on Section 377 the religious leaders from all communities in the country have been up in arms against it. From quoting religious text to terming homosexuality as sin they have done everything to term homosexuality as abnormal. There have been protest marches to force the Government to continue with the draconian law. After all they believe God has created the planet, the life in it and heterosexuality but homosexuality was men's creation.

The Government has to take a firm stand on the issue and should not bow down before the religious organization in scrapping Section 377 of the IPC. A parliamentary debate won't help the issue as most of our honourable Member of Parliaments don't have the intellect to understand the seriousness of the homosexuality issue. Homosexuality is a medical character it should not be even termed as a disorder. One advantage that the government surely has is its decision cannot be termed as biased towards any religion.

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Tuesday, July 7, 2009

Why are we so indifferent towards our poor?

By: Subhadeep Bhattacharjee

The reactions to the Union Budget 2009-10 has once again proved how indifferent we are towards our poor. Isn't it a shame that the budget that Pranab Mukherjee presented targeting the development of the rural India has been out rightly been rejected by the industry leaders. Pranab Mukherjee's crime well he did not present a budget which could make our millionaires into billionaires and in turn ensure one third of the country still sleeps with a hungry stomach.

Who rejected the budget? Well those people who enter their six cylinder cars as soon as they are out of their plush air-conditioned offices. The budget has been rejected by people who have never boarded a Indian Railways train. People whose dying relatives were never carried for kilometers on bed to a pathetic government hospital. People who want a power back up in their homes so that they can enjoy their laptops and microwaves when there are regular power cuts.

The people who are screaming the most are those whose day starts in Delhi and ends in Mumbai, whose sun rises in Bangalore and sets in Hyderabad. These are the same people who dream of making India a superpower. These people haven't seen what 'Bharat' is, at least our politicians visit the rural areas once in five years but our so called 'India Inc' for them nothing exists outside the perimeters of the six metros and a few state capitals. They are not only indifferent but take pride in being indifferent.

The LPG (Liberalisation, Privatisation and Globalisation) era might have brought in development to our cities but sadly our villages remained aloof from the change. This ensured that naxals and the maoists took over the most underdeveloped states like Orissa, Chattisgarh and Jharkhand under their control. This budget tries to address the needs of these people. Was it criminal for the Finance Minister to do that? These rural people have no voices in the corridors of power to present a memorandum to the government. The have two choices either accept the apathy of the government or support the underground ultras.

The budget that Pranab Mukherjee has presented targets the rural healthcare, elementary education, access to all weather roads, electricity and safe drinking water. Is it a crime for the 71% of the population to have access to these basics of life or is it more important to have the tax on an imported car slashed? Some of our industry leaders envision to take computers and internet to the rural masses. Lets first ensure them two morsels a day, safe drinking water, basic healthcare and elementary education. We can make them technology freaks later.

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Monday, July 6, 2009

Pranab Da's budget should be hailed

By: Subhadeep Bhattacharjee

The most obvious reaction to the Union budget 2009 has been that the industry leaders do not seem to be satisfied with it. The markets have rejected it with the sensex going on a dive of more than 600 points at Pranab Mukherjee was presenting the budget. Perhaps the most crucial budget since the one's in Narasimha Rao government Pranab has stayed with the 'Aam Aadmi' slogan of the Congress party plans to bridge the gap between the rural and the urban India.

Prime Minister Dr. Mahmohan Singh's statement that the gap between 'India' and 'Bharat' needs to be narrowed shows the vision of the government. Considering more than half of the people in this country live in the rural areas this budget should be hailed coming out in this hour of financial crisis. Prabab said the first challenge is to return the GDP growth rate of 9 per cent per annum at the same time deepen and broaden the agenda for inclusive development.

People in the service industry have something to cheer about with the Income Tax Exemption limit being raised for senior citizens by Rs.15,000, for women and others by Rs 10,000. The Finance Minister also promised that the Government will work towards simplifying the tax structure in the next four years and introduce a simplified version of the tax filing. Mr Mukherjee said that the government will also look at disinvestment promising equity of state-run enterprises in the hands of general public.

Some of the highlights of this budget are:

  • Defence gets Rs 1,41,703 crore for 2009-10, a 34 per cent hike from 2008-09 budgetary allocation of Rs 1,05,600 crore.
  • Higher education allocation increased by Rs 2,000 crore.
  • Rs 827 crore each allocated to set up Central Universities in states where there are no Central University.
  • Allocation for National Rural Health Mission to be raised by Rs 257 crore over and above the outlay in the Interim Budget.
  • Action initiated to provide social security to unorganised sector workers.
  • Work on National Food Security scheme for providing food at cheaper rates to the poor has begun
  • Allocation for national highways development stepped up by 23 pc
  • Allocation for schemes for the urban poor to be raised to Rs.39,730 cr in 2009-10
  • Funds for Jawaharlal Nehru Urban Renewal Mission increased by 87 pc to Rs 12,887 cr
  • 75 per cent increase for Accelerated Irrigation Programme
  • National Mission for Female Literacy with emphasis on minorities, Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes to be launched. Fifty per cent of all rural women to be brought into self-help group programmes.

True this budget may not have been as the industry had expected but the amount of investment that this budget promises in the social sector must be commended. After all there are people who still do not have access to roads, water and electricity deserve urgent attention. The growth of the nation as they say has to be inclusive.

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Fed Ex stands at the pinnacle of tennis

By: Subhadeep Bhattacharjee

William Shakespare had one said “All the world's a stage” and on Sunday it seemed the Wimbledon Men's Finals was scripted. Andy Roddick was standing between Roger Federer and record breaking 15th Grand Slam. It seemed straight out of the climax of a movie which ended with Roger Federer's victory. The Swedish is now the most successful player in the history of tennis having surpassed legendary Pete Sampras with whom he was tied on 14.

With Rafael Nadal out of the tournament with an injury many felt it was a cakewalk for Federer. But thousands of people who witnessed the Wimbledon Men's singles final on Sunday at the All England Lawn Tennis and Croquet Club will swear not having seen anything like this before. Millions watching the Roger Federer versus Andy Roddick were glued to their television sets for more than 4 hours. The match seemed to have no end with two gladiators firing in aces one after the other. The match reminded the 2008 final between Federer and Rafael Nadal.

The match which lasted for four hours and sixteen minutes saw Federer defeat Roddick 5-7, 7-6 (5), 7-6 (5), 3-6, 16-14 in a mammoth match. It was an awesome display of skills and strength from the two men. In the end Federer emerged as the winner but Roddick surely went down with pride and honour. The audience which included the legends of tennis like Pete Sampras, Rod Laver and Bjorn Borg stood up not only applauding the winner but for a valiant loser as well.

The victory also meant that Federer moved back no the No 1 ranking which has been held by Nadal since August 2008. Now that the Swedish has broken the French Open jinx and is the most successful man in the history of tennis he can set new records at the Tennis circuit which will take years to break. It took a big heart for a Roger Federer to surpass Pete Sampras and it will take even bigger heart for someone surpass Fex Ex.

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Friday, July 3, 2009

Mamata Express halts at it first budget station

By: Subhadeep Bhattacharjee

Mamata Banerjee knows just one way to do things and that's the Mamata way. There was no briefcase to carry the Railway Budget in her hand it was the traditional jhola which resembled a person straight out of an unreserved compartment. Jokes apart in the first major political show of the UPA Government, Mamata presented a budget which won't disappoint many. Her critics had expected a shabby budget from the high decibel Mamata but she surely surprised many.

As expected Mamata did not increase the passenger fare across all classes and not even in the freight rates. Her budget speech had shades of her predecessor's ideas minus his humour. From invoking Indira Gandhi to quoting Rabindra Nath Tagore Mamata did it all. The 'by the people, for the people' budget had its goodies for the poor including the new scheme called 'Izzat' for low-income monthly travelers and cold storages for farmers in major stations.

Some of the highlights of her budget are:

  • The proposal to introduce ambulance facilities and have one doctor to be posted on long distance trains was long needed. Many people travel with patients on trains for days together in trains and this was one of the must haves in a country like India.
  • Infotainment facilities on Rajdhani Express will surely go a long way in making the journey a pleaure. These facilities can also generate a lot of revenue for the Railways.
  • 12 new 'Turant' AC sleeper trains between major metros. Wonder what took the ministry so long to come up with such an idea as the demand was always there.
  • Colleges on railway land through public-private partnership. Considering Railways hold huge chunks of land around the country some really good institutes could come up.
  • To proposal to increase number of women commandos in key routes is certainly welcome as it can reduce the harassment women go through at the hands of male security.
  • SMS update on waitlisted tickets. This is certainly the need of the hour. Keeping in mind the cellular penetration in India this can ease the life of a waitlisted passengers.
  • Construction of more toilets for women. It is not always about health hygiene, we need to protect the dignity of out women too.
  • Introduction of double-decker AC coaches for inter-city travel can bring in some relief to the daily passengers in the metros. This will also make people use public transport more.
Critics will always find loopholes in such a budget and practically in a country like India it is not easy to make everybody happy. In the end this surely has to be termed as a good budget since it did not burn a hole in the passenger's pocket and at the same time proposed many mordernisation schemes. With the budget Mamata surely has touched down the platform in time.

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Thursday, July 2, 2009

Red is fading in West Bengal

By: Subhadeep Bhattacharjee

The elections is West Bengal continue to throw surprises. Six months back nobody other than a certain Mamata Banerjee believed that the Red bastion could be shattered in West Bengal. Proving that the Lok Sabha polls were no fluke TMC and Congress won 13 out of 16 municipalities in the state. This comes as a severe blow to the Left leader who have been engaged in a blame game within the party since the humiliating loss in the Lok Sabha Polls.

If some analysts thought the Lok Sabha results were an isolated case they better open their eyes. Bengal not only voted with the country in the parliamentary polls it also voted against its egoistic leaders. The people voted against leaders who could not bring in development form the centre and only raised the decibel levels in the Parliament. People voted out those leaders who always blamed the centre to hide their inefficiency.

Left Front may not have yet seen its worst days, the Assembly Elections in 2011 might see State Government without a 'Left Hand Drive'. In the last three decades of its rule or rather misrule in the state the only thing that the party did was strengthen its network and develop its own structure. The development of the state took a back seat as Left leaders did not foresee a day when they would have to pay the price of their misdeeds.

People around the country never understood why a government which never improved the living standard of the people was being voted in time and again. The truth is many people in Bengal could never imagine what a non-Left government would be. Left got an extended life span post the liberalisation era due to this confusion. What Bengal needed was a trigger and Nandigram exposed the ugly face of left where criminals were sent of rampage on innocent villagers.

It's not certain if a non-Left government would bring in change in the state which is starving for development but one thing is certain people have had enough of Left. The leaders who had taken people and their emotions for granted are finally facing the music. As former British Prime Minister Harold Wilson has rightly said “He who rejects change is the architect of decay. The only human institution which rejects progress is the cemetery”

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Wednesday, July 1, 2009

NSG hubs don't make our life secure

By: Subhadeep Bhattacharjee

It won't take 12 hours for the country's elite commando force to reach anywhere in the country like in case of a Mumbai. Well that's what the paper says with the opening of regional hubs for the NSG Commandos in Mumbai, Chennai, Kolkata and Hyderabad. Seven months after the devastating Mumbai terror attack the Government has kept one of its promise. The elite commandos will be strike ready in all major parts of the country.

Home Minister P Chidambaram said the government also plans to set up two more strike forces with Army's special forces in Bangalore and Jodhpur. Keeping in mind the counter insurgency operations going on in North East a special force will be raised with the help of Border Security Force. All said and done the citizens of this country can sleep peacefully, the commandos are there to protect us. Or can we?

Let us understand a very fundamental thing, NSG is a reactive force and will act whenever there is a crisis situation. So they don't prevent a fiyadeen attack or a bomb blast in a busy market area. Secondly NSG being a highly skilled force small in number will only be called out during major operations. This means Kolkata based NSG won't normally be used to fight against the Maoist in Lalgarh and the Hyderabad based NSG commandos won't fight the Naxals in Telengana.

Creating more NSG hubs was a smart move by the government after these brave soldiers displayed awesome courage and tactical skills during the 26/11 attacks. From the print to the television to the cyber media, NSG commandos became poster boys of India's security forces. True they fought bravely and deserve credit but the Government should try to ensure that a Mumbai like commando operation is not required in the future

What has the government done to improve the coastal policing system a major loophole in the 26/11 attack? What has the government done to make sure that the railway constables don't need to do a lathi charge against an Kalashnikov spraying bullets. What has the government done to arm the anti-terror forces in the police with protective gear and modern weapons and communication system. These measures would prevent attacks and be a proactive measure. These measures are more important than setting up of NSG hubs.

There is no question on the ability of our NSG Commandos provided they do not need to charter a plane in a crisis situation. There is no Home Minister who travels along and prefers being briefed before the the commandos themselves. Hopefully the NSG Commandos won't need to ride on a State Government bus to reach a crisis area. Let us give our security forces a fair battle ground in a crisis situation.

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