Our topsy-turvy world

Not an India Bangalore thing, but did you hear about the Chinese demolishing a 30 feet high statue of Buddha in Tibet? Jump to google, and find a few articles talking about it, like this one:

The nine metre gold and copper-plated statue of Guru Rinpoche, the founder of Buddhism, was torn down by Chinese police in mid-May at Tibet’s Samye monastery, the Washington-based International Campaign for Tibet said.

Does anyone remember that March 2001 incident when Afghan Talibans tore down the Buddhas of Bamiyan? So. Last time someone brought down a tall statue of arguably the first apostle of non-violence, the world got 9/11 and stuff. What could be in store this time!?

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The brand is desi

ThumsupThe thing I missed most while living abroad was … Thums up. Few Indian grocery stores did carry the bottles, but one could tell that the fizz and freshness was missing. And I used to wonder, what if the Coca Cola company tried selling Thums Up abroad?

Back home, ask cola drinkers of our nation, and the genuine ones will tell you that pepsi has a lot more sugar than CO2 while coke is bland and short on fizz. Didn’t they try killing Thums Up brand after acquiring it? They may say no, but back then I couldn’t explain how the local grocery stores stayed short on Thunder for few weeks at a stretch. “Supply nahin hai saahab”, I remember that from 94/95.

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Making sense of sensex

Yeah, the markets. I never understood them though I keep trying.

Remember that “pay it forward” scam? Pay only $100 and get a$300 worth ipod, how? The two next guys in the ‘queue’ would pay the rest $200 towards your ipod. Now, if the scheme were to exhaust all ipods in the world – what are the chances- only two guys stranded last in the ‘queue’ would end up unlucky. Nice scheme, but well, they called it a scam :)

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Come sell aircrafts to us

Now Sukhoi too will sell civilian aircrafts in our country. Bombardier (Canada) has been pushing its CRJs. Embraer (Brazil) is trying to get a pie as well, whereas ATR (France) dominates the medium size plane market. So what is Sukhoi’s pitch? Cost, right here:

The Brazilian Embraer costs $40 million and the Canadian Bombardier, $35 million. The Sukhoi Superjet 100 will cost $25 million.

Talk of costs took me back to this old post here, and made me think how much a mid-size plane could cost if an Indian or Chinese company were to make and sell them? A guess, $15-20 million? And you create a million jobs in the bargain!? What if India and China pooled together to make an EADS like consortium? Hold your jokes like “as if these planes will fly”, when these countries can make fighter jets, rockets, missiles and what not, won’t commercial jets be doable as well!?

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As easy as SEZ?

A lot has happened since those early debates around the SEZ act. However, I still stand by what I said last year, SEZs are one of those “admission of failure” things. Ask me how.

Who exactly decides, and how, as to what areas are fit to be an SEZ? Some say use non-arable land, some prefer poorer regions, some say fertile or junk, use land that is best for a given industry from location standpoint. Pick your favorite argument, but who is making the decision here? More than being transparent, how participative is this decision making process? From what we know so far, the process is neither transparent nor participative.

ExpresswaySo, shall we say the policy is not democratic? And that it goes against the very spirit of decentralization and local governance the same government has been preaching via the likes of Mani Shankar Aiyer and others? Why can’t we focus all our energies on enabling semi-urban areas of our ‘hinterland’ to create environments that entice industries? What if those small cities had enough power to formulate SEZ like acts in their jurisdiction areas? Imagine small cities competing with each other to attract investment, wouldn’t that be far more democratic and healthy?

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The three job sites

An observation on the three job sites that are spending a lot of advertising rupees to gain your attention. Each of them claims to be number 1 !

  • Monster India’s TV ad shows cricketers washing clothes with their bats and Classical dancers guiding airplanes on a taxiway. The message is about skills and matching jobs – a bit ‘mature’ one.
  • Naukri.com’s classic where an employee spells out the name his boss – H as an Hitler A … R … I as in idoit – is about you not liking your manager, or perhaps your job environment.
  • Whereas, Timesjobs shoots it ‘straight’: If your salary is making you feel too small, look for a change.

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One Mr ‘Unpopular’ Singh from Assam

I didn’t know Dr Singh resided in Assam. And I thought Prime Ministers were supposed to be ‘popular’, popular as in elected directly by the people of at least one constituency. But Dr Singh continues to insist he is a resident of Assam. And he prefers gaining an ‘unpopular’ entry into the Parliament.

Not that there is anything wrong here, its all perfectly ‘legal’. But personally, I don’t like the upright CEO of our country ‘proving’ his residency in a convenient state of his choice (a legitimate ‘token’ proof must have been presented to the EC along with his nomination papers) only to gain a back-door entry to the house of wise citizens.

A quick look around in the mainstream media, and only the Telegraph seems to think alike. I agree there, knowing Dr Singh from his words and actions so far, he should set better precedents.

Just curious #4 – Worst world cup yet?

No no, not talking as an India fan. Too long a tournament (players are complaining), too many inconsequential matches, (is super 8 a bit much, was super 6 better?) – forget those things. The biggest gripe I have, and via his column this morning, Steve Waugh agrees, is about TV coverage which has been downright awful !

Ads start even before the 6th ball goes dead. What if that ball produced a six or a wicket? Just when the commentators start with a descriptive replay, boom, you get ‘mind-n-body heart-n-soul’! After the over break, producer jumps back to live action to find that the bowler has only started running – back to a quick 20 second comic jingle. And then you are brought back live right when first ball of the over meets the bat, pad or stumps. Talk about perfect timing!?

Perhaps its no coincidence that Indian performance and quality of coverage, both have hit rock bottom at the very same time.

2-3 vs a billion

A fellow in dark glasses and uniquely-Indian bow-tie took potshots at our courts and got away with it. And I was like why so much noise over it? Go ahead with IIM admissions, and admit ‘quota’ students later if and when courts have a final verdict. The new students may miss a quarter or so, but so what – how does that matter? When you have anyway lowered the admission bar, can lower the bar for graduation as well: “Must complete 6 of 8 quarters to get the degree”!

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Indus valley or not?

I have been reading tidbits about the debates – was Harappan civilization truly the “Indus valley” civilization? Or were those cities built around some other river as well (Saraswati, Ghaggar-Hakra?) that doesn’t exist today? How did it end, an invasion, or geographical changes? In that context, I looked up the latest class XII NCERT text books to see what they say. Well, they do use the phrase “Indus valley civilization”, (Refer class XII material on Harappan Civilization), and there is no talk of Saraswati yet. On how it ended – the book leaves it open ended with talk of drastic climate changes as well as a note on the invasion theory.

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