Just another brain-dead techie with views on everything under the sun!

Tuesday, September 23, 2003

The frontline state against terrorism...

Pakistan is a frontline state in the war against terrorism.

Osama Bin Laden is alive and well in Pakistan according to Musharraf

Fifteen students, including the brother of top Al-Qaeda operative, arrested from madrassahs in Pakistan, for their involvement in terrorist-related activities and links to the Jemaah Islamiyah network

Pakistan admits underworld don Dawood Ibrahim's presence in Karachi

Pakistan is a frontline state in the war against terrorism.

Monday, September 22, 2003

Boom-bastic crap...

With critics flaying the juvenile Boom, left, right and centre and even prompting Aditya Bhattacharya (son of veteran filmmaker, Basu Bhattacharya) to write an open letter to Kaizad Gustad... no wonder Kaizad seems to be in a hurry to claim that he's not a part of Bollywood.

Thursday, September 18, 2003

The Big Fight

We're gonna have a debate in our office this evening. I'm involved in organizing the event. Two teams have made it to the finals after an interesting elimination round couple of days back. The topic is...
Do we need a management degree to be a good manager?
Let's hear your views! Go ahead... drop in your comments... :-)

Wednesday, September 17, 2003

US vetoes anti-Israel resolution

Well, I'm glad that US has used its veto power to halt a UN resolution which asked Israel to desist from exiling Palestinian President Yasser Arafat and to cease any threat to his safety.

Tuesday, September 16, 2003

Dilbert and IIT

Monday's (September 15, 2003) Dilbert comic strip pokes some fun at IITians, by making them seem like work maniacs who have inhuman abilities to slog and thus outpace their American counterparts.

It seems techies and the rest of the Indian community in the US have reacted very strongly to this portrayal of Indian software developers.

But I, frankly, don't see what the hue and cry is all about!!

The people who're protesting against this will only get painted as "in-duh-viduals" by Scott Adams! ;-)

[via Harry's Livejournal]

Saturday, September 13, 2003

"Cry wolf"... or "Better safe than sorry!" ??

Was there really some specific intelligence information (about possible terrorist strikes in Mumbai) that the authorities in Mumbai received on the eve of the second 9-11 anniversary? or was Deputy Chief Minister Chhagan Bhujbal merely shooting off his mouth, as is his wont?!

We may never know for sure.

Earlier, Bhujbal had gone public with claims that he had received specific information that terrorists were about to strike key installations in Mumbai on 11th September. As a result, there was an unprecedented level of high-alert in the city. The "key installations" in question were put under round the clock vigil by the policemen and people were tense.

Immediately after Bhujbal gave these statements, everyone from senior police offcials to people in the home ministry were up in arms and refuted the presence of any such intelligence information. Bhujbal's deputy, Rajendra Darda, even went to the extent of publicly contradicting Bhujbal by saying, "There is no threat in the wake of 9/11. There is no information either. But our police are always vigilant.". Even top police officials, past and present, criticized Bhujbal for shooting his mouth off in public.

9-11 passed without incident. There were no "incidents". Was it thanks to the police bandobast or was it due to the alert sounded by Bhujbal? Well, Bhujbal, not one to miss a trick, publicly declared that there were no untoward incidents because 'the terrorists changed their plan.'

By the way, one of the "key installations" in the list was supposed to be the famous Siddhivinayak Temple (which is right next to my house btw). Since early morning on 9-11, the police had cordoned off the access road to the temple and the traffic was diverted. No one was allowed to even park a vehicle on the cordoned-off stretch of road. Policemen were patrolling the area in numbers. They had set up sandbag-bunkers on all sides of the temple with arms and ammunition stacked for any eventuality. The whole area around my building resembled a war-zone. There was no way to approach the temple without going through at least one or two police-lines. It was an impressive show of might and resolve by the police.

The road is still cordoned off and the police presence is still very much evident around the temple. I dunno how long will the police disallow vehicles from plying along that important stretch of road.

Thursday, September 11, 2003

Whoa!! Blogger bucks premium-services trend by eliminating its paid version!!
The creation of Blogger Pro, which cost subscribers a yearly fee of $35, came about as a result of financial necessity, Blogger co-founder Evan Williams wrote in an e-mail to subscribers. Now that Google owns the service, that need has passed.

"Pro subscribers helped keep us going as a struggling start-up, when servers and bandwidth were at an extreme premium," Williams wrote. "We wanted to keep basic Blogger free, but we needed to start charging in order to keep the lights on…Today, as you may know, Blogger's situation is much different. For one thing, we're part of Google. Google has lots of computers and bandwidth. And Google believes blogs are important and good for the Web."

Google said it would give Blogger Pro subscribers either a $24 Blogger sweatshirt or a prorated cash refund.
Just to make sure, I checked on Blogger website too. And yes!!... it IS true!!! :-)

Wednesday, September 03, 2003

In his column, 'The Parting Shot' in Mid-Day, Anil Thakraney writes about Media's 'Black Monday'. In it, he wonders about the media apathy as the terrible tragedy in Daman was largely ignored by a media dazzled by the high-profile terrorist bombings in Mumbai and the much-publicized elimination of Ghazi Baba, two events that occured on either side of the Daman tragedy.
This sort of a contradiction hugely benefits two parties: One, the terrorists, who ADORE the media for giving their ‘hard work’ so much attention. And two, the public servants responsible for the poor maintenance of the Daman bridge. They, too, must LOVE the media. For exactly the opposite reason.

Time, surely, for some introspection by the media!!

Tuesday, September 02, 2003

If you want an example of putting one's foot in the mouth, look no further! It seems that the "freedom fighters" like the taste of their feet...

On saturday, after he was gunned down after a 11-hour long battle, the Jaish-e-Mohammad spokesman gave a statement that "Ghazi Baba is not dead", and that the Indian BSF's claim was "a bundle of lies".

But then on Sunday, some arrested JeM terrorists were shown his body and they identified the slain militant as Ghazi Baba.

And then finally, on Monday, BSF intercepted a radio broadcast by JeM which announced, in Pakistan, that "The beat of our hearts, the crown of our heads, our beloved commander Ghazi Baba and his deputy have left... May god accept their sacrifice."

Putting the foot in the mouth... JeM style!

Monday, September 01, 2003

Former Special Secretary of RAW (India's external intelligence agency), V Balachandran, asserts that 'Police intelligence in Mumbai is very poor'. He also goes on to say very damning things about the intelligence setup in the country and especially in Mumbai...
Those days, the Special Branch had a special wing called 'the watchers branch.' The watchers used to mingle with local people, shop owners, roadside vendors and taxi drivers. They were the eyes and ears of the police. They briefed senior intelligence officers about what was happening in the city. That was a credible intelligence-gathering network.

But sadly, the watchers branch was disbanded. Now all the useless officers and constables are appointed in the Special Branch. Now the posting in the intelligence wing is regarded as punishment.
This is pretty much what I was trying to say in my post, a few days back. Moreover, Balachandran also talks about why the brightest and the best in the police department no longer want to work in the intelligence department...
No police officer wants to work in the Special Branch now because there is no corruption there. You cannot make money out of the intelligence department. The temptations for working in an average police station are such that everybody wants to take up those posts, which would fetch them money.

I think we have systematically killed police intelligence in Mumbai and in other parts of the country. Unless we reorient and give emphasis to credible police intelligence system, similar bomb blasts would continue to hit Mumbai.
While it's true that policing a city like Mumbai is not an easy job and the gathering and analyzing intelligence in such a crowded and vast city is next to impossible, it still does not exonerate the politicians and police officials from the charge of breaking down one of the best internal intelligence setups in the world.

A welcome fallout of the Cola controversy is that the Govt. has issued draft norms, for beverages, in the form of a draft notification to amend the Prevention of Food Adulteration Rules, 1955.
Under the proposed amendments, the ministry of health and family welfare has suggested more stringent limits for the presence of pesticides, insecticides and heavy metals in all kinds of beverages.
While this tightening of limits is a welcome step, it still is hardly enough to check the presence of impurities in these beverages. One reason for that is the fact that it's just a set of rules that the Govt. is proposing to amend. These are merely suggestions for the industry to adhere to. They are not enforced in any way by the authorities. It is upto the beverage manufacturers to implement these rules of their own accord. The Govt. has merely raised the bar. It has not made it mandatory for the industry to clear the bar... leaving space for anybody to sneak beneath the bar.

Friday, August 29, 2003

Bharateeya Blog Mela

Here we are! Back again with the all-singing, all-dancing show called the Bharateeya Blog Mela. And can you believe it... this is the 26th edition of the Mela!! Which means that it has been around for over 6 months now!! :-)

Let's get straight to the point. The biggest event this week was one of the saddest days in Mumbai's recent history. And it's not surprising that the shockwaves of the Mumbai Bomb Blasts were felt through the Blog world too. As a result, posts related to the blasts and the subsequent opinions merit a separate post altogether. Yazad will be hosting a round-up of the posts about the Mumbai bomb blasts, this weekend.

So, on with the Mela...

  • Yazad notices a political banner that uses language one would not expect to see in serious political slogans. I wonder if anyone actually clicked a snap of that banner!

  • Shanti posts about an Associated Press news article that curiously traces the root cause of the Mumbai blasts to the Hindu-Muslim riots in the 1940s, events that led to the partition of India. Clearly, the author of that AP article needs to read a chapter from an elementary school history book to understand that partition caused riots and not the other way round!

  • Niraj cautions against the recent trend in some midwestern American cities, of accepting illegal immigration without the apparent consent of the US federal government.

  • Jivha unearths a small newsitem that announces a BESCOM decision which is actually an encroachment on our personal freedom.

  • JK posts a detailed book review of "Fast Food Nation"... a book that he found "very gripping and interesting to listen".

  • It's JK once more, as he is fascinated by a new archaelogical discovery that unravels some more facts about Ancient India.

  • Smorgasbord lists some of Mr. Christopher Hitchins' accusations against Mother Teresa in his post titled Saints and Sinners... accusations that try to "blazon her carefully crafted image of piety".

  • Another post by Jivha finds a mention in the Mela. Here, he cautions against revising history as he wonders why, in the first place, did the Allahabad High Court ask the ASI to carry out excavations at the disputed site in Ayodhya.

  • Sandeep has a detailed post about the de-merits of urbanization and its effects on the Rural Indian Economy.

  • Radhika Nair posts about an encounter with drunks that gets her thinking about how some Britons feel insecure due to the immigrants.

  • Srijith posts about the Urdhva Tiryagbhyam which is an extremely easy formula in Vedic Mathematics that simplifies all cases of multiplication. It really is amazing!!

  • Parag has a post about earth's close encounter with Mars. He even has a photo on the post.

And that... is a round up of some of the interesting posts that have appeared on the Indian Blogscape in the past few days. I hope you enjoyed going through these wonderful posts.

My thanks to Shanti, JK, Ashwini, Yazad and Parag for sending in nominations for the Mela!! :-)

I know I'm late in posting this, but I shall post it nonetheless. Arun Shourie's three-part series of articles in The Indian Express that is an absolute MUST-READ. Read it!!... if you haven't done so already!!

Part 1 : Before the whining drowns it out, listen to the new India
And guess what the average age is in the industry? Just 26 and a half! These 26/27-year-olds have changed the world’s perception of India. It’s not just a country of snake-charmers, it’s a country against which protectionist walls have to be erected. Of course, we can also charm snakes.
Part 2 : When sky is the limit
The point is the successes we have encountered above are not fortuitous. India has a score of strengths that others do not.

Cost is one of them. Nor is it a marginal advantage. Indeed, the difference between the cost at which we can provide services and many commodities of comparable quality and what those cost in the developed world is so vast that, should those firms and economies shut themselves out from our supplies, they are the ones who will be severely disadvantaged, they are the ones who will be making themselves un-competitive.
Part 3 : This is India's moment but it's onle a moment, can we grasp it?
So we have many things working for us. In many ways, this is India’s moment, even vis a vis China. For the first time, observers have begun to voice questions in public about China—its statistics; the fact, for instance, as a German investor said recently at a conference I was deputed to attend, that, ‘‘If you want your factory to come up quickly, go to China; if you want to make money, go to India.’’ On the other side, everyone’s noticing Indians make a mark in every sphere: writers, scientists, doctors, IT, cricket, beauty pageants, chess...

So it is the moment for India. It is a moment. But, it is only a moment. What should we do to ensure we grasp it?

Thursday, August 28, 2003

Call for nominations for Bharateeya Blog Mela#26

The 26th edition of the Bharateeya Blog Mela will be hosted here at The Opti Mystic tomorrow, i.e. 29th August 2003.

The directions for nominating entries:

  • Since there was no Mela last week, I will accept entries dated August 16 through August 28.

  • Send an email to sameer @ opti-mystic dot net

  • Drop it as a comment to this post

  • Nominations should reach me by tomorrow (Aug 29) evening, i.e. 5 PM IST

The Rules :

  • Posts must be either written by Indians or focus on India or Indians.

  • Please send the permalinks to the posts rather than the blog URLs. If the permalink does not work, please send the title of the post alongwith the date of that post.

  • You can nominate either your own post or someone else's.

  • All posts except personal jounal entries are allowed to be nominated in a Mela. All the nominated posts shall be included in the Mela without any censoring/editing. A post may be excluded only if it is a personal journal entry.

For more info about the Bharateeya Blog Mela, please visit this detailed post by one of its founding members, Ashwini. You could also head over here to look at the rich archives of past Blog Melas.

So... let the nominations flow!! :-)

Wednesday, August 27, 2003

Forensic experts from The State Forensic Laboratory have concluded that RDX was used in the blasts that shook Mumbai on the 25th of August, 2003. Now, this certainly means that these blasts were much similar to the 1993 blasts than the ones that have rocked Mumbai in recent months. The Ghatkopar, Mulund, Vile Parle blasts used crude explosives

This is really interesting. Former top cops give their views on two B's... Blasts and Bhujbal. And it seems that all of them except Rebeiro speak like the politicians that they serve.

On being asked, "How do you rate the performance of the police with respect to the blasts?"... some of them have given some answers that are worth scoffing at...
Sahney: I will not blame police. This is a phenomenon that will not stop as long as there are angry people bearing grudges.
Ohh! ... then why have the police at all?! ... Maybe we should have counsellors instead... or meditation courses for these angry people. Maybe that would reduce the terrorist activities.
Soman: I don’t find anything objectionable. In a city like Mumbai with a population of 1.10 crore, it’s difficult for a police force of 40,000 to know everything.
Well... I do concede that there's an iota of truth in what he says... but then Hello Mr. Soman... police need to know most of these things. That's why its called "intelligence"!! Otherwise why would we need police??!

Rebeiro hits the nail right on the head when he says, "They should have more contacts at the grassroots level, because intelligence comes from there.". Now that's common sense stuff. But sadly, its lacking these days. Gone are the days when Mumbai police were the finest in the world. The network of informants that the police maintained then, was huge and almost legendary. But with the passage of time, the job of police was diluted by the politicians. VIP duty meant that the police were guarding the lives of wretched politicians instead of crime detection and prevention. With proximity to the politicians, came frequent contacts with the high flying dons of the underworld. Thus, the grassroots-level informer network was neglected to a large extent. And the word on the street was no longer heard by the police.

Coming back to the point...

On being asked about Chhagan Bhujbal's (Maharashtra Dy. Chief Minister) performance, most of the former top cops refused to comment. Rebeiro however openly said that "This is the worst administration as far as police is concerned.". He also gave Bhujbal a 'zero' on a scale of one to ten!!

That says a lot, doesn't it?!

Tuesday, August 26, 2003

Many many happy returns of the day to Gaurav!! :-)

If ever there was a birthday wish worth calling cute, this has to be it!! ;-)

Blast Updates:

Police hunting for the 'family' of four.
Two men in jeans accompanied by a woman and a child are the main suspects in yesterday twin blasts that killed 49 people, injured 161 and struck terror in the heart of an already jumpy city.
But Shivnarayan Pandey, driver of taxi, numbered MH-02-R-2007, that was used in the Gateway blast, had apparently already sold his taxi seven months ago, according to his relatives. Pandey was supposed to be working in a private company as a driver. Why then was he driving that taxi??

And then... why was a taxi allowed to park in a MCGM (Municipal Corporation of Greater Mumbai) pay-and-park facility? Taxis aren't allowed to park in these pay-and-park area operated by the BMC.

The police seem to be a confused lot. While Police commissioner, R S Sharma, refused to divulge the names of organizations that may have been behind yesterday's blasts, Joint Commissioner, Dr. Satyapal Singh openly said, "These blasts are the work of Lashkar-e-Taiba and SIMI (Students Islamic Movement of India."

The people of Mumbai have, as always, bounced right back, refusing to be cowed down. Whether this is resilience or apathy... one thing is certain. The spirit that keeps Mumbai ticking has not died down. An example of that resilience is the fact that the Sensex, which plumetted 120 points during the day yesterday, after the news of the blasts broke... has bounced back by regaining most of the lost ground. The sensex was 108 points up from yesterday's close at the time I posted this entry.

As a mark of condolence for those who've suffered in the blast, all of us at my workplace shall observe a minute of silence at 3 PM IST.

Monday, August 25, 2003

There have been four blasts in Mumbai [see updates below for the latest news]. Looks like the cowardly bastards who have no balls to come out into the open have struck again! :-(

Update: It seems the blasts happened just minutes after it was disclosed that the ASI report indicates that there existed a temple at the disputed site in Ayodhya. Interesting!!

Update No. 2: The police now say that there were in fact only two blasts in the city today... not 4 as earlier reported. Strange!

Update No. 3: After intial reports that about 6 to 10 people had died in the blasts, I just refreshed the page and was shocked to see that the official figures put the number of dead at 42 and the number of injured at over 150!!!

The blasts have happened in South Mumbai this time. If the last few blasts were aimed at creating a sense of fear and panic among the common people of Mumbai (by targetting public transport like trains and buses), I'm afraid the target this time around seems to be sending a forceful message to the Government that the terrorists are here.. right at their doorsteps.... and they aren't afraid of anything. Well, at least the Gateway of India blast was definitely to achieve this particular aim. Reports indicate that it was a very powerful blast. Click here for an image of the mangled remains of a car from the parking lot, near the Gateway, in which this blast occurred.

The second blast occurred in the crowded locality of Zaveri Bazar in Kalbadevi which is a predominantly Gujarati locality. And I don't think this is a co-incidence. Moreover, these blasts in South Mumbai also aim to target the financial nerve centre of the metropolis which is not far away from the scene of these blasts. Not since the infamous Bombay Blasts 10 years ago, has the south of Mumbai been singed by the flames of terrorism.

It's terrible!!

Who is to blame for these incidents? Terrorists??... "Foreign (Pakistani) Hand"??... the government??... the police??

What are your thoughts?

This is cool!! ... Really, really cool!!
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Sameer/Male/27. Hails from India/Maharashtra/Mumbai/Prabhadevi, speaks Marathi, English and Hindi. Spends 60% of daytime online. Uses a Faster (1M+) connection. And likes Reading/Computers.