Friday, September 18, 2009

Buddha saves Bengal's IT dream?

By: Subhadeep Bhattacharjee

On the eve of the biggest festival in West Bengal there is something for the entire state to cheer about. There is some ray of hope for the almost scrapped IT projects involving giants Infosys and Wipro. Chief Minister Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee has offered both the firms 45 acres of land each in Rajathat for their development centre. This after the State Government was unable to hand over the promised 100 acres of land to the IT majors as a fallout of the Vedic Village carnage. The situation had been so bad that the state IT Minister Debesh Das had sent regret letters to both firms.

After the misadventure of the Tata Nano project in Singur this was seen as another blow to the state's re-industrialisation process. This was a huge setback for Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee who hasn't left any stone unturned for the last nine years to revive the state's economy. He has had to fight against fringe elements within his own party as well as the opposition. No body doubts the man's intent to make the state of West Bengal an industrialised state and regain past glory which it has lost post independence particularly the last three decades of since the Left came to power.

It is quite a funny situation as many IT investors want to set up development an delivery centres in the state despite many road blocks. The stepping of bodies like NASSCOM into the issue shows the huge potential that lies in the state with regards to the Information Technology sector. A major advantage for the IT and BPO firms operating in Kolkata is the cost. Due to the low operational cost and relatively cheaper labour in comparison to a Bangalore, Hyderabad or Pune, Kolkata is a city with huge potential for the IT and BPO business.

After the debacle in the Lok Sabha polls the Left has been trying hard to put up a pro-people and pro-industry image. The opposition which has been scoring victories one after another in the state had jumped in to cash on the chaos. Finance Minister Pranab Mukherjee taking personal interest to prevent these projects from slipping out of the hands of the state which is starving for investment. The post Tata Nano period hasn't been easy for the state with many potential investors having pulled back from their proposed investments in the state.

Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee understands that these two projects are not just the about the 16000 odd jobs that they would create but the entire Brand Bengal is at stake with these projects. But no project in Bengal is finished till it is completely finished as we have seen in the case of Tata Nano. For now all of us can just hope and pray that both the IT majors accept the Government's offer and there are no further roadblocks to the project. It is a better start to the puja season this time around after Tata pull out of the eve of last year's puja.


Thursday, September 17, 2009

Twittering might cost Shashi Tharoor his job

By: Subhadeep Bhattacharjee

Shashi Tharoor seems to be in the news for all the wrong reasons. First it was lodging in a Five Star Hotel as Kerela Bhawan could not provide him with 'privacy' and 'gym' to tone his body. Now his obsession with Twitter and sharing too much of his opinion with the netizens might cost him his job. Not only has he overstepped the Lakshman Rekha in a recent twitter post he seems to have hit the Gandhis directly.

In a recent Twitter post when the Minister of State for External Affairs was asked whether he would fly “cattle class” the next time he travels to Kerala. Tharoor candidly replied “Absolutely, in cattle class out of solidarity with all our holy cows!”. This however hasn't gone down too well with his party colleagues especially on a day when Rahul Gandhi took the Government's austerity drive to a next level by travelling to Ludhiana via train.

Now Mr Tharoor has spent too much of his time abroad and for him an Economy Class flight and Rajdhani First AC in India would seem cattle car. But Mr Tharoor has acted foolishly by making his thoughts public. The politicians in this country have always been aloof from the problems on the ground but the smartness lies in not accepting this in public. Tharoor has been a diplomat and political commemorator for too long, wonder how he made such a blunders.

Shashi Tharoor might have tried to take a leaf out of Obama's book and tried to connect to the people of this country on Twitter. But he forgot facts that more than half the population in this country is still illiterate and devoid of power supply. Plus he is working with people (read MPs) who gift their grandchildren with the laptops which was provided to them by the government to make them in tune with the information technology age.

The biggest of all sin that Tharoor did was breaking the biggest thumb rule of the party. Tharoor might have forgotten is when you are in Congress you don't speak against the Gandhis. From Jawaharlal to Indira and from Rajiv to Rahul they have been the power centres of the party. The moment one breaches the line his power supply is cut off. If he wants a long term career in the Congress and rise up within the party he has to learn how to respect a 'Sonia Ji' and a 'Rahul Ji'

One piece of advice for Mr. Tharoor stop Twittering even if you have no work in your ministry or else the party might make you free to Twitter 24x7.


Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Rahul's tokenism costs more than saves

By: Subhadeep Bhattacharjee

The Congress party seems to be getting overboard with its austerity programme. If it was Finance Minister Pranab Mukherjee and UPA chairperson Sonia Gandhi travelling Economy Class, the Prime Minister in making Rahul Gandhi went a step ahead. Rahul felt an Economy class ticket would cost a bomb to the nation's exchequer and took the Swarn Shatabdi Express for his trip to Ludhiana to attend a political rally.

If his journey from Delhi to Ludhiana was full of glamorous media coverage, his return journey met with tragedy when window panes of three boogies in the train were stoned in Panipat. This raised an alarm with the security forces in the train and in Delhi as Rahul Gandhi is SPG protectee. Although Rahul put up a brave face upon his return to Delhi the security agencies not wanting to take any chance with the incident have started investigation.

The question that arises is what was Rahul's motive behind taking the train? The Congress and the government would maintain that it was to cut costs. True a Shatabdi ticket would have probably cost a fourth of an Economy Class train but what about the expenditure on security personal? It is anybody's guess how many police personal might have been deployed in all the stations where the train stopped. So did his trip cost less to the exchequer? The answer is pretty well known.

People like Rahul Gandhi taking the train for their political tokenism also causes a lot of unnecessary security threats for the passengers. Passengers travelling on such trains need to undergo more than normal frisking. If the stones thrown at the train was meant for Rahul Gandhi than the Congress General Secretary has no right to put so many people's lives at risk to gather political mileage for himself and his party.

Rahul Gandhi has mastered the politics of tokenism Be it raising the issue of Kalavati during the Parliament session or spending a night in a dalit's home with British Foreign Secretary David Miliband. People in India need to understand that Rahul might share a common surname with the Mahatma but he is no Mahatma to do such acts all his life. Will he leave the comforts of flight travel or an air conditioned bungalow for all his life? So why mere acts of tokenism?


Tuesday, September 15, 2009

India surrendering in front of China?

By: Subhadeep Bhattacharjee

It took the Indian authorities more than two weeks to reveal that that two jawans of the Indo-Tibetan Border Police, were injured in bullets fired from the Chinese side. The firing took place in an area identified as Kerang in northern Sikkim and took place a fortnight ago but the Indian authorities decided to brush it under the carpet. This incident is just another episode in China's regular intrusion into the Indian territory in the last couple of months.

This is not the first time this violation has happened it is quite a regular feature in Arunachal Pradesh over which China still lays its claims. Chinese military regularly indulges in cat and mouse games with the Indian security forces. Although we react to any action on the Indo-Pak border when it comes to the Sino-Indian border our government acts spineless and surrenders most of the time in front of the 'Red Dragon.' Indian establishment has time and again played down incidents on the Sino-India border.

The latest of China's protest comes in wake of Dalai Lama's proposed visit to Arunachal in the month of November. But this time around Indian authorities have shown some grit and are not stopping the Buddhist guru from visiting Arunachal. It may be recalled that Indian authorities had prevented him from visiting Arunachal in 2008 after China protested. Wasn't that an act of surrender where we don't allow a person who has taken refuge in India to travel freely because China opposes it?

Our obsession with the western borders with Pakistan has meant that the eastern states bordering China have been neglected. Indian authorities are aware it is at a disadvantage with China. On the border, the Chinese, with their superior road and rail networks, can actually come up to LAC and move thousands of troops in no time while it takes days for the Indian troops to get to the border. This gives them the advantage to play a hide and seek game with India.

This however should no reason for us to bow down before China. We need to protect the territorial integrity of our nation at any cost. There is a certain fear that looms over the Indian security forces what if China goes to war with India? This fear has made sure that we have always bowed down to the Chinese and never looked them into the eye. But this attitude of ours has been taken for granted in China and results are here to see.

The paranoia about the war has very little logic as fighting a war with India will cost the Chinese economy dear and which they are definitely not prepared to do. Logically China would never want India to rise and challenge its position as a future superpower and thus wants to keep India in an environment of fear. Indian government needs to be assertive if not aggressive while dealing with China or else we will have to live with the incidents we have seen in the last couple of months.


Monday, September 14, 2009

Musharraf lets out the truth!

By: Subhadeep Bhattacharjee

Pakistan used US military aid against India instead of fighting terror on Pakistan’s western borders. The aid which was provided by the US to fight the Taliban went into fortifying the borders with India.
Pakistan invested the money in developing long range missiles to fight India and not Taliban. Anybody who focuses Indo-Pak relationship won't find this revelation startling at all. But this comes straight from the horse's mouth and in this case it is none other than former Pakistani President Gen Pervez Musharraf.

Musharraf who held the command of the country from 1999 to 2007 admitted that he had violated the rules governing the use of the military aid. But not a person to miss an opportunity to glorify himself Musharraf justified his action, saying he had acted in the best interest of Pakistan. He said he did not care whether the U.S. would be angered by his disclosure.

Taking a dig at the US for the first time he said that after 9/11 American forces could have entered Pakistan to capture its nuclear assets. It was also possible that the U.S. and India could have jointly attacked the country. The question is why is Musharraf saying all these things now? How does a pro-American General suddenly turn against the Yankees? What has Musharraf to gain from this revelation at a time when his country is fighting the fundamentalists on the western front?

Firstly Musharraf has fallen away from good books of the US especially after the Obama administration took over. So siding with the US won't fetch him any goodies in the future. He is desperately trying to make a space for himself in Pakistani politics. For that he need to shed the anti-Islam image that he incurred having partnered US in the war against terror in Afghanistan. What better way to be a Pakistani nationalist than take an anti-India stance.

Stating that US military aid was used against India not only cleanses some of his anti-Islam sin but also gives him a few bonus points having taken on Pakistan's THE ENEMY. A problem with Pakistani military has been its obsession with India and the dream war against it. Musharraf is no different from the ordinary soldiers and officers in Pakistan who dream of taking over New Delhi some day. Having said that Musharraf still seems to have played quite a master stroke to pave his way back into Pakistani politics.

It is now the all powerful United States of America to decide where they want their funds to go fighting the Taliban or building minefields along the Indian border. It will be foolish to think that US wasn't aware of all these things happening but it will be interesting to see Uncle Sam's stance after Musharraf seems to have made a mockery out of them. It won't be surprising if US doubles its military aid to Pakistan after all it is one weapon through which it can neutralise India considering it fears India's economic growth.


Saturday, September 12, 2009

Can Pranab da save Bengal's IT dream?

By: Subhadeep Bhattacharjee

If it was Tata Nano's pull out from Singur last year before the Durga Puja, it is the West Bengal government's inability to give land to IT majors Infosys and Wipro that has left the people shocked this festive season. The people of the state may soon become used to getting shocker just ahead of the biggest festivity of the state. But why now? After the Lok Sabha polls everybody was cheering that a wind of change was blowing across Bengal but here we are back to square one.

The truth is Bengal especially Kolkata is far behind the national race when it comes to information technology revolution. The IT industry in the Kolkata can only be compared to the smaller towns in South India let alone comparing it with a Bangalore, Hyderabad, Chennai or Pune. The Left Hand Drive in the state for ages opposed anything that was American which also meant IT depriving lakhs of youths of a decent job in their state and forcing them to migrate down south.

But once Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee took over and put his heart and soul into industrialisation people saw a ray of hope. But a CM is just as good as his party and the wrongs of three decades are coming back to haunt the CM and his government. Buddhadeb could have easily been celebrated as one of the most forward looking Chief Minister had he been in any other state other than West Bengal. But he has been let down by his own party and an opposition which behaved irresponsibly during many occasion. Chasing out the Tata's from a de-industrialised state could not have been sane man's job.

There is a school of thought in the state which feels that any industrialisation would mean dooms day for the farmers. But cities like Bangalore, Hyderabad and Pune have boomed by land accusation and there are thousands of stories of where a poor farmer selling his land and drove an air-conditioned sedan. In a modern state both there should be opportunities for both the rural and urban population. What does an educated youth from the state do, dump himself into the Bay of Bengal? After all he cannot see any modern industry coming into his state.

The only ray of hope now seems to be in Union Finance Minister Pranab Mukherjee who said on that he will speak to the West Bengal government on allocating land to IT majors. He pointed out that the IT majors would be able to provide employment to 5,000 to 10,000 people and many more indirect jobs for both the educated and uneducated people in the state. If Pranab Mukherjee can pull this off it will be the political master-stroke of his career.


Friday, September 11, 2009

China wants Indian media gagged

By: Subhadeep Bhattacharjee

As if threatening us with regular military intrusion all across the border wasn't enough the Chinese now want a gag on Indian media. In a recent news that appeared on a state-run Chinese newspaper, the officials accused the Indian media of trying to present a bleak picture of the Sino-Indian relations. The news article further went on to add that the Indian media was raising a war rhetoric and sowing the seeds of enmity between the two countries.

This piece of news comes amidst reports that the Chinese border guards intruded into Ladakh and painted boulders and rocks red there. Although China denied any such intrusion it is anybody's guess as to why would somebody paint the stones red in such a harsh terrain. Although China plays a regular cat and mouse game with India this is the first time that they have hit out at the Indian media for maligning China's image.

The reason a state-run Chinese newspaper has been able to do that is because the way our government deals with the communist nation. Too often than not Indian government has always acted spineless when it has come to China. New Delhi doesn't seem to have come out if the shock of 1962 war and is willing to take any level of breach in its security from China with folded hands. The government doesn't even raise a strong protest with Beijing forget taking any military action.

It is a well known fact that at present China is a bigger military threat than Pakistan for India and New Delhi is is no mood to have any military conflict with China. If there is a logic which says India should not go on a war with China, the same logic also says that Chinese will not want to fight a war with India. The call here is not for the Indian government to be aggressive against the Chinese but to be assertive while dealing with them.

On Chinese government official trying to gag the Indian media, well it is not surprising coming from a country where there is no 'Right to Freedom' and 'Freedom of Speech'. Chinese administration has always crushed people who have spoken out against it so they are not used to criticism. The Indian media need not give an ear to what the Chinese government say, after all it is the same government which runs tanks on its own citizen and returns the call for democracy with a 'Tiananmen Square'


Thursday, September 10, 2009

It's 'Ekala Chalo Re' for Rahul

By: Subhadeep Bhattacharjee

One characteristic of Rahul Gandhi that emerged in the last general elections was that he doesn't believe too much in coalition politics. During the Lok Sabha elections it was his decision to go alone in Uttar Pradesh the hub of Indian politics. Not only did Rahul come out with flying colours grabbing 20 Lok Sabha seats he also dented the big dreams of leaders like Mayawati, Mulayam Singh, Amar Singh, Ram Vilas Paswan and Lalu Prasad Yadav.

If it was UP before the polls it seems to be the turn of Maharashtra in the upcoming Assembly elections. Congress workers in the state are riding on the confidence of the General Elections and believe they can pull off a win without the support of the NCP. The Congress high command might give into their demands considering the dwindling popularity of Sharad Pawar. If Congress can pull it off without NCP, Sharad Pawar's political career will almost be finished. He has already swallowed his Prime Ministerial dreams and now can only find solace only if he manages to hold Maharashtra.

With the resurgence process of Congress switched on in UP and Maharashtra, Rahul Gandhi seems to be heading south. In his recent three-day Tamil Nadu trip, Rahul urged the state party leaders to lessen dependence on the the two Dravidian major parties DMK and AIADNK. Congress hasn't tasted success in Tamil Nadu since it lost lost to the DMK four decades ago in 1967. This is the longest period in India's history for a state to have not seen any Congress government.

Rahul seems to be on the march towards bringing back Congress' golden period it enjoyed in the first two decades of India gaining freedom. If Rahul succeeds the larger impact might be in loosening the grip of the regional parties in their respective states. This would in turn pave the way for better functioning of the central government which time and again has suffered blackmailing by the regional parties.

For now Rahul seems to be reciting Rabindranath Tagore's 'Ekala Chalo Re'


Wednesday, September 9, 2009

Not so Aam Aadmi in Aam Aadmi Govt!

By: Subhadeep Bhattacharjee

The Congress won the country's mandate riding on its 'Aam Aadmi' slogan. But it seems repeated calls by the Prime Minister asking his colleagues in the government to cut down on unnecessary expanses has fallen in deaf ears. External Affairs Minister S M Krishna and MoS for External Affairs Shashi Tharoor had to be ordered by Finance Minister to vacate the Five Star Hotels they were staying in since taking over their ministries about three months ago.

The two ministers claimed that their Government houses were being renovated and thus they were staying in the luxury suits. It is just anybody's guess how Government bungalows take three months to be renovated where the occupant has to stay in a hotel. S M Krishna is staying at ITC Maurya where it is rumoured the Presidential Suit that he occupied cost more than six figures a day. His deputy Tharoor occupied at a suite in the Taj Mahal Hotel but was no deputy when it came to expenditure.

The Ministry of External Affairs issued a statement that both that SM Krishna was paying his own rent and nothing was being paid by the ministry. Does the Ministry of External Affairs expect the citizens of the country to fall for their gross lie? When was the last time we heard a minister in India footing his own bill from his own pocket? If SM Krishna was such a saint what was he doing in Indian politics, it is high time he goes back to Karnakata, stays in his home and donate all the surplus money he spends on Five Star hotel bills to charity.

Coming to Shashi Tharoor our to our 'NRI Minister' needs privacy and a gym to serve the people of this country. Privacy understood for his Twittering job but gymming why? Reducing some extra flabs that staying as ex-chequer's money might have got him. Although we always fall for accented English, these people have hardly made a difference to the nation. Mr. Tharoor has lived abroad for too long in Five Star accommodation to adjust back our desi way. He could have better served as India's envoy to one of the G-8 nations rather than sweat in the tropical weather of Delhi.

There is nothing wrong with these ministers enjoying a king size life. Historically the nobles have always lived aloof to the common masses in their grand lifestyle. Our noble politicians deserve that but why is this hypocrisy with the 'Aam Aadmi' slogan. Why is the government and the Congress party in particular trying to fool the people calling it a Aam Aadmi government. One Manmohan Singh and one Pranab Mukherjee adhering to this motto isn't enough to save the face of this government.


Tuesday, September 8, 2009

Are Indians better off in individual sports?

By: Subhadeep Bhattacharjee

Karnam Malleswari, Rajyavardhan Singh Rathore, Pullela Gopichand, Sania Mirza, Vijender Kumar, Abhinav Bindra, Sushil Kumar Anju Bobby George and the latest in the list Pankaj Advani. Does the names of these individuals ring any bell in your ears other than the fact that they have earned laurels for India. Well all the above mentioned names are champions in individual sporting disciplines. This bring us to the question – Are Indians better off in individual sports?

If a deep study into the Indian sports scenario is done we will comprehend one peculiar pattern that we have honed our skills in individual sports but barring cricket we have tasted only failures in most team sports. The situation has become so bad that in the last two and a half decades we have almost forgotten our national game hockey. Yes the same game where India had won 5 Olympic gold medals in the past but even failed to qualify for the Beijing Olympics last year.

The same is the fate of Indian Football despite a Nehru Cup win our FIFA rank stands at a dismal 156, and in basketball we stand at 49th spot. Considering the way bodies like Indian Football Association and Hockey India are run, these results are not surprising. These bodies serve as dumping grounds for failed politicians and retired bureaucrats. The reason we do well in cricket is not only restricted to its popularity or the flow of money but the way in which the BCCI is run. The board looked into the development of the game and India is today the hub of global cricket.

Coming back to the performance of individual sportsman, many of them were hardly beneficiary of any government run programmes. Most of them excelled at the international level due to their hard work and private bodies which got into training these individuals. Beijing gold medallist Abhinav Bindra had trained in his own private facility while boxer Vijender Kumar learnt his punches under the guidance of Jagdish Singh in Bhiwani, Haryana. Sushil Kumar was a product of our desh akhara and not Sports Authority of India.

All these factors makes sure that Indian players seldom excel in team sports as most of the time they are let down by the system itself. However there seems to be some ray of home amidst this mess, the success of individual spokespersons has proven that Indian sports doesn't lack talent. The need is to spot this talent early and train them under a proper system. After all a billion strong country can definitely have a football team with a better ranking than 156 globally!


Adding to our senses...

By: Reetasri Bhattacharjee

Even in this day of high technological advancement, we human beings still rely on our five senses for perceiving any information. Technocrats have often wondered if a device could be developed that could take place of the abstract concept of the sixth sense. The Media Lab of Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) under Pattie Maes, has come up with an unique device which is a wearable gestural interface that augments the physical world around us with digital information and lets us use the natural hand gestures to interact with that information. This is the “Sixth Sense” deviced by Pranav Mistry, a research scholar in the Media Lab of MIT.

According to the developers of the Sixth Sense, in today’s increasing consumerism, the internet has become our constant companion to get added information about things and people. We also use our mobiles to connect to the internet and get any information about anything we want. But the point here is, “whenever we want the information, we search for it”. The information does not come automatically. Sixth Sense will help in getting any information (like the quality of the product, the current rating of the product on the internet, the significance of the product etc) about products and purchases automatically when we are choosing something. Basically the device will help us to make the correct purchasing decision about any product. Further, if seeing a scenery, we want to take a photograph, we will no longer need to take out our mobile cameras to do so. Just the standard hand gesture of framing a picture will take the scene and store it in the mobile computer. There are many other things that can be done with the Sixth Sense.

The prototype implements many applications that demonstrate flexibility, viability and usefulness of the system. Other interesting applications are the map application which lets the user navigate a map displayed on a nearby surface using hand gestures allowing us to zoom in, zoom out, resize and even pan the movement. In another application, we can draw on any surface. This will again be done by the device tracking our hand movement on the air. If we want a watch to see the time, just making a circle on the wrist will display the clock on the hand and when we have seen the time a simple erasing gesture will remove it. If a person comes infront of us, all information about him available on him over the internet will get displayed on the person’s body. If we want to log into our e-mail, the gesture of tracking the “@” sign will display our e-mail.

The Sixth Sense prototype is comprised of a pocket projector, a mirror and a camera. The hardware components are coupled in a pendant like mobile wearable device. Both the projector and the camera are connected to the mobile computing device in the user’s pocket. The projector projects visual information enabling surfaces, walls and physical objects around us to be used as interfaces; while the camera recognizes and tracks user's hand gestures and physical objects using computer-vision based techniques. The software program processes the video stream data captured by the camera and tracks the locations of the colored markers (visual tracking fiducials) at the tip of the user’s fingers using simple computer-vision techniques. The movements and arrangements of these fiducials are interpreted into gestures that act as interaction instructions for the projected application interfaces. The maximum number of tracked fingers is only constrained by the number of unique fiducials, thus Sixth Sense also supports multi-touch and multi-user interaction.

Sixth Sense is still in the labs and has not been launched for the general public. But even in this stage, it has cost just $350. If any easy calculation is made, when it will go more mass production, the value will come down further. Its creator, Pranav Mistry has already got the “Best Innovation Award, 2009” for this product. It is surely an innovation to look forward to. This has the potential for bringing the internet and added information all the more closer to us. There are certain points in the device that can be abused more than used, for example, the application of clicking a photograph without any visible device. The application which gives added information about a person is also controversial. It will take the product to be launched for the mass to see what its impact will be on our lifestyle.

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


Monday, September 7, 2009

Chandrayaan died of heat stroke!

By: Subhadeep Bhattacharjee

Well that's what the the Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) is saying. We had heard of human beings and animals dying of heat stroke in India's tropical weather but this if for the first time we are hearing of a satellite suffering from the same medical problem. Jokes apart after more than a month of effort ISRO declared having lost communication with the ambitious Chandrayan-I. This meant India's first mission to the moon ended abruptly.

The mission has been more or less successful with ISRO claiming to have finished with 90-95% of the planned mission. India's space agency has anticipated moon's surface would be around 75 degrees Celsius. However the temperature turned out to be more than 75 degrees this started a series of problems. Some of the experiments had to be shut down as a part of the contingency plan but unfortunately ISRO lost communication with satellite about 10 months after its launch.

The bashers of our indigenously technology will make a mockery out of the entire project. There is a certain group which cannot trust the 'Made in India' tag even if moon is manufactured in India. From satellites to military armaments this group want us to remain ever dependent on the West for all our needs. Some of them do it for monetary profits from the MNCs and international arm manufacturers and while others do it due to lack of knowledge and over admiration of the West.

The fact is Chandrayan-I survived in the lunar orbit for 10 months where as many of NASA missions could not last half that time. If NASA is a set standard in space science than ISRO has done a commendable job. Scientists from the European Space Agency (ESA), the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) and the Bulgarian Academy of Sciences are currently monitoring the performance of their payloads which went aboard in Chandrayan-I.

Let us give ISRO its dues, being from a third world nation and with regular budget constrains it has always delivered more than expectation. ISRO's annual budget in 2007-08 stood at was Rs. 3,858 crore (793 million dollars) compared to 17. 3 billion dollars that NASA spent. Is it thus fair to draw comparison between the two? Hasn't NASA ever failed in its mission? Have we forgotten Space Shuttle Columbia's disaster?

Although we don't sing praises for ISRO its best complement perhaps came from US President Barack Obama when he said “With India’s launch of its first unmanned lunar spacecraft we are reminded just how urgently the United States must revitalise its space programme if we are to remain the undisputed leader in space, science, and technology,’’ It's high time we back our desi science and engineering.


Friday, September 4, 2009

Are we too much into hero worshipping?

By: Subhadeep Bhattacharjee

If hero worship needed an example there couldn't have been a better one that the reaction to the death of Andhra Pradesh Chief Minister YS Rajasekhara Reddy in an unfortunate helicopter crash. The entire state seemed to shut down with as many as 67 people loosing their lives of which 30 odd suffered from cardiac arrest and the rest committing suicide. The question that arises is are we too much into hero worshipping?

This is not the first time India has seen this and unfortunately it won't be even the last time. The kind of fan following that politicians and film stars have down south cannot draw parallels with any other part of the country. Be it with the death of MGR in Tamil Nadu or that of Dr. Rajkumar in Karnataka there were ugly follow up events. Their deaths were marked by violence and protests with many innocent people loosing their lives.

If larger than life hero worshipping leads to this such hero worshipping should not be appreciated. What happens to the families of the fans and followers who have committed suicide in the heat to the moment. They grieved for somebody's death and took their own lives how who grieves for theirs. Fans might feel grieved at the loss of their heroes buy that is no justification to commit suicide or resort to violence as has happened in some cases in the past.

We might assume that most of these celebrities are larger than life but that however isn't the case. When a star dies people need to mourn his death in better manners than committing suicide or resorting to violence. Aren't our heroes human beings after all? Why can't we show more maturity when it comes to dealing these tragedies? If only we were a little logical in our thoughts 67 odd lives wouldn't have been lost after the death of YSR


Being productive...

By: Reetasri Bhattacharjee

Sitting idle, browsing through the various sites is what will describe my life right now. Passing moments it indeed is. I have missed blogging and actually haven’t posted anything for quite sometime. I am very lazy…lazy to the point where I become inactive. Everyday I come up with many ideas and think I need to tell my opinion about it through this blog. But the events pass, they became stale and no one will even want to know my opinion on it from me (ok…not many read my blog, I know) and I continue to pass my days saying “kuch nahi hoga”.

When I am in a criticizing mood, I ask myself, how can anything happen when people like me exist in India. We just love complaining. Sometimes, I believe that we can live without food but not without complaining. Life’s that pathetic for us. Right now sitting here, I can come up with ten problems I am supoosedly facing, when I should be looking at the brighter side and see that I am getting the time to blog. I know what this beautiful medium is all about. I atleast know I have a platform to tell people what I feel and I don’t just need to sit and complain. I can get pro-active if only I want to. But no, I like most Indians love sitting and idly passing the days.

Everyday there are so many things that happen around us, so many things that directly or indirectly affect us. We need to form opinions and also share them with the world, specially when we are getting the chance and the platform to share it. I know and realize that I can share things and be a part of the process but no I love being complacent and satisfied.

Just another passing phase…..let that pass.

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


Thursday, September 3, 2009

The Indian National UID Project

By: Subhadeep Bhattacharjee

The Central Government aims to distribute a unique identity card to every Indian citizen. The Indian National UID Project will be on the lines of the SSN (Social Security Number) in the United States. The seeds of the project were sown in 2002 by the Atal Bihari Vajpayee government. Named Multipurpose National Identity Card (MNIC) then its main aim was to track every Indian citizen to counter the growing threat of terrorism and create a countrywide database of every Indian citizen which is the need of developed nation.

After lying in docks for many years the Centre has finally given a go ahead to the project. Infosys co-founder Nandan Nilekani has been appointed as a Cabinet Minister to head the project. Nilekani’s appointment met with cheers as he is well known for his Project Management skills having co-founded and headed one of India’s largest IT companies.

This will however be a neck breaking task for Nandan Nilekani and his team as they will have to work with different machineries of the Government. The problems are compounded by poverty, illiteracy and lack of basic infrastructure in many parts of the country. The federal system of government has meant that there is huge disparity between the functioning of various State Governments. There exists a wide gap between the economically flourishing and the backward States. Since the State Governments will have to play and pivotal role in the implementation of this project, to counter this disparity will be a major challenge.

  • The project aims to obviate need for multiple documentary proofs and will help in facilitating verification.
  • The database will serve as a National Population Register which will be updated periodically filling the loopholes in the present Census System.
  • It will be major tool in the Government’s hand to facilitate e-governance service which is the need of hour in a geographically vast country like India.
  • It will be major boost to the law and order system in the country and be an active tool in the fight against terrorism.
  • The database created will help in the implementation of the social schemes with focus on the economically weaker sections of the society.
  • The project aims at monitoring the financial system in the country. It will reduce tax and other financial frauds.

The UID card given to the people will have a micro processor chip with 16 KB of memory to store all the confidential information. The card will be made secure using ‘asymmetric key cryptography’ and ‘symmetric key cryptography’ which will prevent duplication and misuse of the card.

A national database for every individual will be maintained across multiple locations to prevent sabotage and risks from natural disasters. Every single move made by an Indian citizen from his birth to death can be tracked by the government. The project will integrate the educational, financial, health, travel and tax information of an individual into a single platform.

  • Arming people with a smart card in a country where more than one third of the population still lives below the poverty line.
  • Create a user friendly technology considering close to two-third of the population still resides in the rural or semi-urban areas.
  • Implement the project under a public service system infamous for corruption and inefficiency. The fact that the same system has failed to distribute EPIC cards to all the citizens in more than two decades will pose a major challenge.
  • Distribution of UID cards to authentic Indian citizens considering the amount of influx taking place from neighbouring countries like Bangladesh, Nepal and Sri Lanka.
  • To overcome the potential privacy issues related with the project.
  • Overcome the religious, cultural and socio-economic biases which have been roadblocks in the proper distribution of the EPIC and ration cards.
  • To work in conjunction with the various State Governments with very little uniformity in their functioning.
When completed National UID will have one of the largest databases in the world. It will arm the Government to track every Indian citizen from the time to birth to his death and facilitate better governance. The biggest challenge of all for Nandan Nilekani and his team will be to implement this project to the best of its potential. Or else UID card might end up being another plastic card in the wallet.


Wednesday, September 2, 2009

Tatas heat up the telecom sector

By: Subhadeep Bhattacharjee

The heat is on in the Indian telecom market. It has been just about two months that Tata DoCoMo had taken the GSM mobile market by storm with its paise per second tariff plan. Tata Tele Services seems to be in no mood to lower its guard and has created a bang in the CDMA market too. Tata Indicom might have just delivered a death blow to its biggest competitor Reliance CDMA by announcing its new pay per call concept.

The offer is such that its sounds too good to believe. Under this offer Tata Indicom callers will be charged Re.1 for all local calls and Rs.3 for long distance calls, regardless of the duration of the call irrespective of the network they call into. The pay-per-call product has been launched on the prepaid platform, and subscribers opting for it will be charged a daily fee of Re.1. The company also plans to roll out similar offer on its postpaid service.

In two months, the firm has already signed up six million subscribers on the GSM network which has rolled out in eight operating areas including the four southern states, Orissa, Madhya Pradesh and Maharashtra. With plans to launch DoCoMo in all the 23 circles in the next one year and revamping its existing CDMA subscriber base India's most prestigious business house is turning the heat on in the Telecom market.

The Tata DoCoMo impact has been so much so that it caught most of its competitors off guard and has forced them to revise their price strategy. Never before were SIM Cards hoarded in the market as has been the case with Tata DoCoMo with retailers unable to meet the market demands. Aircel is trying to lure its customers with a cheap STD calls going into the third minute. Airtel and Vodafone are giving attractive packages to their customers within their network.

It will be interesting to see what happens to the cellular market in India once the Number Portability comes into effect. It is believed a lobby is trying its best to stop this from empowering the consumers to choose their operators at the same time retaining their numbers. Tata Tele Services is most likely to be the biggest beneficiary if this comes into quick effect. Well consumers surely have a lot to cheer about in this telecom war.


Tuesday, September 1, 2009

Some cheers for Indian Football

By: Subhadeep Bhattacharjee

It is very rare that there is anything to cheer about Indian football but on Monday Indian football fans got something to celebrate when India grabbed the Nehru Cup for the second time in a row by defeating Syria 6-5 in a penalty shoot-out. India's Goal keeper Subrata Paul turned out to be the hero as as outstandingly blocked three shots to the post giving India a much deserved victory in a nail-biting game.

The All India Football Federation (AIFF) announced cash awards for the Indian football team after the match. AIFF president Praful Patel said he would personally give a cash award of Rs.500,000 each to skipper Bhaichung Bhutia and goalkeeper Subrata Paul, whose brilliant saves in the tie-breaker won the match for India. All other members of the team and the support staff will get Rs.200,000 each. Not bad for players who aren't even provided air tickets during domestic events by the federation.

It is only when we win a tournament that we want to reward (read lure) our players with money and in normal times we don't even care to know about them. The situation is such that most of us know everything about the Cristiano Ronaldos, the Frank Lampards, the Rio Ferdinands and the Wayne Rooneys but wonder who Subrata Paul, Sunil Chetri, Clifford Miranda and Syed Rahim Nabi are. For most of us Indian football starts with a name Baichung Bhutia and unfortunately ends with it as well.

Before the federation and country gets carried away with the win introspection is required on the poor state of world's most popular game in India. Question needs to be asked is why the state of Indian football so pathetic? Why is it that out FIFA ranking stands at a dismal 156 with countries like Sri Lanka and Fiji ahead of us? Why is it that after having foreign coaches and training we haven't been able to preform beyond the Nehru Cups.

The state of Indian football can be guessed very well from the fact that the former President of All India Football Federation Priya Ranjan Dasmunsi wasn't willing to let go off the post even though he could not even stand for the Lok Sabha Polls due to his ill health. He found solace once the post of the President was taken by a fellow politician Praful Patel. As if Patel doesn't have enough worries with Air India and the Maharashtra elections, how on earth will he find time to look in the state of affairs of Indian football.

This is nothing to do with a Priya Ranjan Dasmunsi or a Praful Patel alone but a system in which politicians and bureaucrats consider holding such positions as a best option to remain in limelight after their retirement from active careers. These people slam Cricket and the BCCI for all their misfortunes but never learn from it. To cite an example Premier Hockey League kicked off three years before the IPL but how many fans has it generated? Is cricket to be blamed here too?

Most of the sports federations blame cricket for all their woes. However they fail to learn from a sports governing body which makes money without the government doing any charity towards it. The reason is professional manner in which BCCI is run. Sport bodies like AIFF, Hockey India, IAF, BFI should take cue from BCCI about improving the standard of the game rather than blaming it. One Nehru Cup is good but we have a long way to go.


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