Thursday, August 30, 2007

Onam - getting commercialised ?

Is Onam, malayali's most memorable festival getting commercialised ?

Onam, the famed harvest festival of the South Indian state of Kerala
is known for it's simplicity and the fervour with which people cutting
across age, social status, caste and religion take part in the colourful celebrations running for seven to ten days across the state from Kasargod in the North to Parassala in the south. There are many events forming part of this colourful celebration, the most impotant of them being the Pookkalam, onasadya, the pulikkali, thiruvaathira kali

Lore has it that King Mahabali, an Asura (demon) king, who once upon a time was ruling Kerala with great prosperity and peace was the focus of jealousy of the Gods. Aditi, the mother of Devas pleaded with Lord Vishnu to curtail Mahabali'sm powers, lest he be all powerful and his fame spread all over. Lord Vishnu decided to come to the earth and test the good nature of the King. Lord Vishnu came to the earth.in the form of Vamana, a Brahmin and asked the King for three feet of land. With the first and second feet, the Vamana took away the heaven and the earth and wanted the King to show him the place to keep his third feet. The King who realised that it was Lord
Vishnu who had come to meet him, allowed Vamana to keep his third feet on his head and got himself pushed into hell.

But before going out, the King extracted a promise from Lord Vishnu that he be given an opportunity every year to visit his people. ( Another lore has it that it was Mahabali's ego which was given the treatment by Lord Vishnu). Anyway, whatever be the story, the boon granted to Mahabali released him from the recurrent cycle of birth and death and allowed him to visit his people once every year. It is this promise which is being fulfilled every year when the King visits his people in Kerala to enquire about their well being and prosperity.

It is usually observed that the malayali living outside the state, cutting across religion and social status, celebrates the festival with great fervour than the people within the state.

The colourful floral arrangement (called pookkalam) across the homes, offices, organisations and educational institutions of the state, the tiger dance (pulikali) in Trichur, the cultural capital of Kerala and the boat races in the backwaters of South Central Kerala, people take part with great enthusiasm in the celebrations, making Onam, the narvest festival, a very memorable event in the minds of the people, coming year every year.



The traditional pookkalam, a treat to the eyes, used to be arranged by the children and womenfolk in the homes. During the holidays we find kids going around the country side collecting all types of colourful flowers which they can lay their hands on. At home, the womenfolk gather around and play the famedthiruvaathira dance while others arrange the pookkalam. Thiruvaathira is a dance where ladies with small sticks and dressed in traditional malayali attire, move around in circles with alternate members moving in opposite directions. A treat to watch, this dance requires lot of patience and practice and is thoroughly enjoyed by all age groups in the state. Newspapers and social organisations have come forward to organise pookkalam and thiruvaathira competitions which make the celebrations doubly memorable. Malayali samajams, the gathering place of malayalis outside the state to help preserve and continue the rich culture of the state, are the main catalysts which promote the onam celebrations.

Pulikkali is an intreresting pastime during onam time in the north part of Kerala, especially in the culturally rich areas around Trichur. Men in shorts, get their bodies painted or coloured with designs of the tiger and leopard and move about with very graceful movements of these felines, a virtuoso treat to the mind and eyes.

The onapudava, the traditional custom of new cloth or dresses being given to all members of the family by the elder is also a time of great enjoyment and revelry among the housefolk. The family elder making the purchases for the other members of the family, by itself gives a revival to the clothing and textile industry in the state. The state government and private establishments within the state give the traditional bonus to it's employees as a mark of the goodwill of the state towards the working class and this brings great joy to the people.

The snake boat (chundan vallom) race is another favourite pasttime of the menfolk. Of all the many boat races in Kerala during Onam, the most popular and best is the Nehru trophy boat race on the Punnamada kayal in Alapuzha district conducted on the second Saturday of August every year. India's first Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru who visite Alapuzha (Aleppey) in 1952 was given a rousing reception in Alapuzha by the people in the presence of these snake boats. Nehru was very moved by this reception and after having gone through the tremendous excitement of saling in a snake boat, donated an ever-roling trophy to be given to the winner of the boat race. It is now called the Nehru trophy boat race. These 120 ft long boats, carrying from 90 to 110 sailors, made in Aanjili wood has also the record of being the longest boats used for sports purpose in the world.



Some of the more popular snake boats teams are Kaarichaal, Chambakulam, Paayipaadu, Kaavalam, Alapaatu, Aanari, Cheruthana, Aayaparambu, St.George, Jawahar thaayankari, Vallamkulangara, Sri.Ganesh, Paarthasarathy are the popular teams who participate in the Chundan Vallam category. Indira Gandhi boat race conducted in the backwaters of Kochi in the last week of December, to promote tourism, Champakulam boat race held in the pamba in the month of Midhunam, Aranmula, Payippad, Kumarakom are some of the other boat races in kerala.

There is a serious doubt whether the Onam celebrations have of late taken an unusual turn for the worst with crass commercialisation being observed in many parts of the state. Days before the main day of Thiruvonam, hotels had started their booking of the traditional lunch of Onasadya, a sumptuous lunch on banana palm leaf, with variety of vegetarian dishes, fried banana chips, sambhar, pappad, dal curry mixed with cow milk ghee, topping up everything finally with the payasams and paalada. Onam celebrations are incomplete without the Onasadya. Onasadya is thus an integral part of Onam where ever in the world it is being celebrated. Top hotels in the state charge anywhere from rupees 300 to 400 per lunch with the lower hotels charging from 75 to 100 rupees. Instead of having theonasadya at home, malayalis are packing themselves in hotels paying money for the sadya.

This is also the time when companies start their annual disposal plans of old, slow-moving inventory of cloth, electronic and white goods. The newspapers are galore with advertisements hailing the massive discounts being offered, some realistic and some not so. The common man is lured into these traps by the merchant class and big companies, with only profits as their motive and service the least, bringing in a consumerist culture in the minds of the people, wanting them to buy and collect more of electronic gadgetry and white goods at home, even though there is actually not much use of those goods in the ordinary malayali household.

Gone are the times when malayalis used to get together and take part in great numbers in the celebrations. Nowadays with nuclear families, with father, mother and one kid or at most two, it is selfish interests which count more than the camaraderie and the revelry associated with Onam and king Mahabali. Gone are the days when irrespective of the social status, people used help out the poor in the society by giving out in cash and in kind.

Let us hope that malayalis across the world realise the worth of this festival and preserve it's pristine qualities in the truest and natural form for posterity to be proud of.

George..

Saturday, August 25, 2007

A dual timing system for India..

Right from Porbander in Gujarat to Guwahati in Assam we share the same time. Is it a wise thing to do..? Can we save energy by having dual time zones in our country, eventhough it is not as massive as the US where we have the Eastern time and Pacific time, 3 hours apart..

Or can we have a timing system which is 6 hrs away from GMT, integral hours diff with GMT (UTC)., which is better ??

Friday, August 24, 2007

Min in Kerala, T U Kuruvilla in deep shit ..

A disgrace for the whole Christian comunity in Kerala to have a cheat like Kuruvilla in the govt. Hope VS removes him son enough before the left image takes another beating..

george..
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Kuwait-based Kerala businessman accuses minister of cheating

By IANS
Wednesday August 22, 06:58 PM

Kochi (Kerala), Aug 22 (IANS) Kerala businessman K.G. Abraham, who is based in Kuwait, Wednesday accused the state's Public Works Minister T.U. Kuruvilla of cheating him in a land transfer deal. The minister denied the charge.

Abraham said that Kuruvilla and his son-in-law Sudhip John, who was the general manager of Abraham's business in Kuwait, had struck a deal to sell to the businessman 50 acres of land in the picturesque hill station of Munnar in Idukki district.

Abraham said he was given to understand that the minister's three children owned the land.

'His son-in-law works with me and I decided to buy the land at Munnar because I thought I was dealing with close relatives of a Kerala minister. My aim was to build a resort on the land. I handed over Rs.6.75 crores (Rs.67.5 million) as advance,' Abraham told reporters here.

Trouble for Kuruvilla started last month when treasury bench legislator P.C. George alleged fraud in the deal and gave a written complaint to Chief Minister V.S. Achuthanandan.

When the matter came up in the assembly, Kuruvilla said his children own land in Tamil Nadu and the money was accepted because Abraham had bought their land in Tamil Nadu.

Abraham said: 'When this became an issue, the (minister's) son and son-in-law came and met me and said that since Kuruvilla is in trouble, they would transfer a quarry owned by them to me, which I flatly denied.

'I was interested only in setting up a hotel in Munnar and hence I paid the advance for the 50-acre plot. Later I came to know that the Munnar land was meant only for cardamom cultivation and a hotel cannot come up there.

'I never expected that a minister would cheat me,' said Abraham, adding he would initiate legal steps against the minister soon.

Meanwhile, following George's complaint, Achuthanandan asked Revenue Minister K.P. Rajendran to look into the matter.

Rajendran Tuesday directed Idukki collector Raju Narayana Swamy to investigate. Swamy visited Munnar Wednesday to verify documents related to the land owned by Kuruvilla's children.

Rajendran told reporters here that he was awaiting a report on the matter.

On his part, Kuruvilla told reporters at Kannur that he was not at all involved in any deal with Abraham.

'It is my children who are involved in dealing with Abraham. I am not aware of what is happening and I have no role in it,' said Kuruvilla.

Abraham flatly denied that. 'I have dealt with Kuruvilla and not with his kin. Kuruvilla asked me to transfer the advance money to his children's name.'

Kuruvilla, a first-time legislator from Kothamangalam constituency in Ernakulam district, belongs to the Kerala Congress (Joseph) party.

He became a minister almost a year back when P.J. Joseph stepped down as minister after he was alleged to have misbehaved with a woman on board a flight from Chennai to Kochi.

Sunday, August 19, 2007

Why is India wary of the US in the nuclear deal ??

India agreeing to the 123 act on Indo-US nuclear co-operation was based on the basic necessity of meeting our energy needs given the double digit economic growth forecast in the coming years. Either we develop indigenous R&D at such frenetic pace to meet the excess demand or team up with somebody who can provide us that energy. Since indigenous development was not practical, the only direction we could turn to others. Iran was ready with natural gas, constructing a gas pipeline connecting the two countries. Or we could enter into this treaty with US where they assure nuclear reactors, fuel and so on but with some catches. And US wanted to torpedo the gas treaty as it wanted to restrict Iranian clout in the world.

What followed was India and US signing the July 18,2005 Indo US nuclear act(also called the 123 act). Some of the objectionable clauses in the act were objected to by our PM and had been taken care of.

US on realising that they had conceded too much ground in the 123 act (out of its necessity to block Iran's economic clout), decided to gain lost ground by passing the Hyde Act in Dec 2006. It is the restrictive clauses listed in this Act which is the cause of concern in Indian political circles these days. Having already burnt it's fingers with US sanctions following the Pokhran explosion in 1974, India does not want to take chances this time. Also knowing fully well that this time we do not have much to lose, Indian politicians are busy debating and asking for time to dissect this treaty in detail.

Here is the objection raised by our nuclear scientists against the Hyde Act and reported in The Hindu newspaper.

http://www.hindu.com/2006/12/16/stories/2006121616171500.htm

Henry J. Hyde Act passed in Dec 2006, is applicable and supercedes any other act passed before it. Through the back door the act among other restrictions, can impose heavy penalties on India if it conducts any further nuclear test, necessary for it ensuring minimum deterrance. This point is being publicly debated in India. The US is thus 'indirectly' acting to block India from exercising it's sovereignity in deciding it's level of self-defence by bringing the Hyde Act which overrides all earlier legislation, discussions. It mandates on us to return all equipments, fuel received from US in case we explode a nuclear device.

Under the 123 Act, if India is denied US fuel supplies for the civilian nuclear reactors, supplies from alternative sources from NSG would be arranged, which is also denied by the Hyde Act.

US is also bringing in parts of nuclear non-proliferaton on US terms through the Hyde Act, by making it mandatory for US to report to US Congress on India's compliance with nuclear non-proliferation and co-operation with US efforts to restrict Iran and other countries from going nuclear. What India wanted instead was a non-proliferation treaty which was global and non-discriminatory. The Fissile material cutoff treaty, is non-discriminatory, multilaterally negotiated and internationally verifiable. That is being denied if we sign the 123 act in it's present form with the Hyde act in the background.

If perpetual fuel supplies are not granted, why should India import US reactors which will have to be returned, halting our efforts at nuclear power generation, incurring terrible economic costs which could cripple India's growth before indigenous R&D gets ready with alternate options ?

If we go ahead with the gas pipeline with Iran, though better conditions cannot be guaranteed, at least we are not bound with any crippling acts restraining our sovereignity to act to ensure minimum deterrance in the event of a necessity.

If US thinks it can bulldoze its way and hoodwink others into accepting conditions favouring it, it is completely wrong. With our earlier experiences when we were isolated in the international nuclear field by US blocking fuel supplies for the Tarapur plant, our scientists learned a bitter leason and are better prepared now. Our scientists and decision makers /parliamentarians are aware of the dirty cheap tricks up their sleeve which it would play on its allies / would-be allies, in order to retain it's supremacy and control over the world.

The Left parties need to be fully credited for creating an awareness among the Indian decision makers and the public at large regarding this. Let us utilise this time to deliberate on the conditons and implications of this treaty before committing to it in totality.

Better late than never at all.

George Easaw

Friday, August 17, 2007

History behind Aanakurissu, Kuttikanam, Peermade..

The legend of Aanakurissu, Kuttikanam, Peerumedu.

If one is moving from Kuttikanam towards Pallikunnu, enroute Kattapana, between Kuttikanam and Pallikunnu, you will come across a cross (kurissu in Malayalam) near a bridge, the aanappaalam (elephant bridge). On either side of the road, there are tea estates, some working and some closed. But there is greenery everywhere. Students and nuns from the nearby St Pius X School and Marian College frequent this place very often.

This cross has a very tragic history / legend behind it. Many years ago, on either side of the road, inside the estates, there were line houses. A line house is a typical cheap, one room accommodation provided to the estate employees, consisting of houses, usually seven or ten, in parallel. Each house consists of a verandah, a room and kitchen. The common bathroom shared by the inhabitants of these line houses. These line houses were built by the estate owners for their employees and families to stay. These line houses also gave enough security to the estates from encroachment by people and attacks by wild animals. Living together, the employees too were guarded against attacks from wild boars, wild elephants etc which were plenty in that area.

Diseases have always been a scourge of human beings and at a time when science and medicine had not advanced as much as today, most of the diseases were fatal. Small pox (vasoori in Malayalam) was one such disease which never had a medicine. There was no treatment available and the only precaution was to isolate the patients to prevent it spreading to other healthy people.
The surrounding areas of Aanakurissu was the place fifty years or so back, where people who contracted smallpox were brought for solitary confinement , away from the healthy population. (Like in the famous movie 'Island of Shadows', leprosy patients were isolated and were made to live in colonies inhabited by other leprosy patients). A care taker used to give food to these patients at regular intervals. People were scared to come to these places and the people who were brought here, mothers, fathers, brothers, sisters and close relatives, never got to see their relatives and friends again, as these people died a very sad and painful death here. Neglected and despised by the society, the local people never came to these places.

Legend has it that the dead souls of these people who died a painful death in the line houses were wandering these areas as ghosts and scaring travelers and people staying nearby. A cross was brought from Mattanchery, near Ernakulam to this place and erected by the catholic priests in this area. With frequent prayers at the cross, it is said that the scourge of wandering dead souls scaring people disappeared.

Motorist traveling long distances also make a stop at the cross these days to pray for a safe journey. Often the prayers are accompanied by some offerings which are collected by the Catholic church at Kuttikanam which looks after the maintenance of the place. Local people around here say that the prayers at these places also yield results which is evident by the large groups of people who come to this place every Friday for prayers and requests. If these prayers are repeated for five or seven weeks, called as niyogam by the local people, it is believed that the prayers are heard. These days, it is also seen that infertile couples have started tying small toy cradles on the cross for blessings of fertility, and  more often than not, it is granted.

If you are interested in offering prayers at this place, visit it on Friday at 5 PM for prayers there and place your wishes and requests. More often than not, it shall be granted.

George Easaw (As told to George Easaw by Jiji, of MBC College of Engg, Peermade on 17 Aug 07..)

Wednesday, August 15, 2007

The most promising event of modern India .. Digital and knowledge Revolution

We have heard many people /organisations talk of the different incidents that have helped make up the modern and developing country that is India. Instead of trying to dissect events in history, it will do an ocean of good if we were able to fix our sights on one event which is to hold terrific promise for the country and it's billion plus people in the coming days. Which is that event and who started it ?

It was in mid eighties after Ms Indira Gandhi's assasination that her son Rajiv Gandhi got elected and became the PM of India. Rajiv Gandhi had a terrific aura about him, even though he did not have anything to claim as his achievements except that he was born into the Nehru family and had sat on the lap of Jawaharlal Nehru many a time.

Rajiv Gandhi was a visionary. He got with him intellectuals and accomplished Indians from all walks of life from around the world to advise him on critical issues which were to affect India. The most important contribution of Rajiv Gandhi was picking up Sam Pitroda, the present Chairman of the National Knowledge Commission, to head the telecom revolution and establish the Centre for Development of Telematics (CDOT).

In no time, India could develop it's own telephone exchange which is helping run most of the rural telephone exchanges of BSNL now. It helped spread the reach of telecommunications to the common man in the remotest part of the country. Along with the Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO), under his guidance, the work to launch India's telecommunications satellite also got started and we had telecommunications satellites in the sky. In combination with an indigenous telecomm knowhow and satellites in space, Public Call Offices were opened in different villages and towns in the country. Now it is easily possible for a villager in the remotest of Indian villages to make NSD and ISD calls.

India's leap into the digital world was thus spearheaded by Rajiv Gandhi. The initial steps to start the knowledge revolution, which now has metamorphosised to the National Knowledge Commision is a great step to harness the knoledge in different streams to help make the right decision and harness it for the country's growth.

Were it not for the right thinking at the right time, the penetration of computers would not have been much and Indians would have remained ignorant. Now we find a digital revolution across sections of scoiety, including politicians and it is leading to the total metamorphisation of the digital landscape of the country.

Companies like Infy, Wipro, TCS etc owe it to Rajiv Gandhi and the digital revolution as much to globalization and the technical, english speaking workforce.

Continuing to work at the same pace we can establish high quality R&D labs in the country and innovate for the rest of the world.

George Easaw..

Dr Manmohan Singh on India at 60 ..

Speech by Dr Manmohan Singh, PM, India. 14 August, 2007.

On the eve of an extraordinary historical event, Dr Manmohan Singh, the nation's 14th prime minister, assesses India@60:

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One of humankind's great and exciting adventures of the past century has been the transformation of India from a colonial, agrarian economy into a modern, industrialising, knowledge-based economy within the framework of a liberal and secular democracy. The commitment of the leaders of our national movement to the idea of an independent India as a multi-ethnic, multi-religious, multi-linguistic and multi-cultural democracy was one of the great acts of human faith in the 20th century that continues to give hope to humankind.

At a time when the world was battling ideologies of exclusion and divisiveness, the leaders of our freedom movement invested their hope in the ideology of inclusiveness. The idea of India, of unity in diversity, of openness and inclusiveness, has withstood the test of time and history and is our great contribution to humankind these past 60 years.

The success of the Indian experiment in pursuing economic development, social and political empowerment within the framework of a secular and democratic Constitution, with respect for the rule of law and for fundamental human rights has earned for our country a special place in the comity of nations.

In the past 60 years, we have built a firm foundation on which we can in fact redeem the pledge of the architects of modern India in full measure. The young people of today should remember that at Independence we inherited an economy weakened by years of colonial exploitation.

For half a century before Independence, the Indian economy registered virtually no growth at all. In the first three decades after Independence, we grew at 3.5 per cent per annum. In the second three decades our annual growth rate went up to nearly 6.0 per cent.

In the past few years the growth rate has been closer to 9.0 per cent per annum. This has been made possible by a rising rate of investment, now at around 35 per cent of national income, and rising productivity of labour and capital. If we can sustain these rates, and step up the productivity of land and labour, we should be able to attain double digit rates of growth in the near future.

India is on the move.

This steady acceleration of growth, however, averages the impressive performance of some regions and the inadequate performance of others. It has also been socially uneven. Hence, the challenge before us is to make the growth process more socially inclusive and regionally balanced. In the past decade, we have seen a further acceleration of growth, based on the impressive performance of certain sectors of our economy. But we have a long road to travel to realise the full potential of our people and fulfill the promises of the Father of our Nation and the Architect of Modern India [Get Quote].

India at 60 is a nation of young people. To realise our true potential, we must invest in the health and education of every child. We must create new employment opportunities for all, especially for the less privileged sections of society, and for those living in rural areas. We must eliminate the rural-urban divide in development indicators. We must also ensure that the process of industrialisation generates enough jobs for our youth, in urban, semi-urban and rural areas.

In the past 60 years, people moved to where work was available; in the next 60 years, work must move to where people live.

The government has an important role to play in not only sustaining higher rates of growth, but also in making the growth process more inclusive, socially and regionally. Governments must also play an active, creative and constructive role in providing and facilitating access to modern education and good health care.

I sincerely believe that the time has come for us to pay special attention to education and skill development. India cannot keep pace with the world unless every Indian is empowered by skills and capabilities that make every person a productive and creative citizen, capable of living a decent life.

As we mark the 60th anniversary of our Independence, we cannot afford to be complacent, either about our achievements or our ability to meet the extant challenges. We cannot afford a 'business-as-usual' approach to any aspect of life. The world is changing rapidly and we must learn to keep pace. We have to do more to increase the productivity of every Indian, the productivity of our land and of capital.

Each one of us must set our sights higher and aim to be the best in what we do. Our schools and colleges must aim to be the best in the world. So too our businesses and laboratories. So too our services and utilities. I despair of the 'chalta hai' attitude of so many of our people.

While our democracy is our great strength and a unifying force, we must not allow it to become an excuse for not working together in the larger national interest. We have to strengthen and revitalise our institutions of governance, policymaking and education so that we are able to harness the energies of our people better.

Indians have proved that individually they can excel and compete with the best in the world. We must be able to do so collectively too. We need to do more to unleash the full potential of our people's creativity and enterprise. We need better team work and the ability to build wider social and political consensus around the ideas of change and modernisation.

To overcome the many challenges we face -- developmental as well as social, domestic as well as external -- we require at least a minimal consensus on a national agenda. We must all be equally committed to the values and ideals of our Constitution, be it secularism or social justice. We must all join hands in the search for communal harmony and national integration. We must all stand together in the fight against terrorism and extremism of all kinds.

A nation of a billion people, as diverse as ours, cannot move forward unless we learn to work together for the common good and for the national interest. There must be a national consensus at least on a basic agenda of good governance, economic development and national security. No developing nation can make the required great leap forward without a basic consensus on a minimal agenda on such vital issues.

While there is much to be proud of in our record of the past 60 years, the unfinished agenda should make us humble and energise us to work together. The emerging challenges, at home and globally, should make us firm in our resolve to be united and to be cooperative. I do not see enough commitment to such a consensual agenda in our political parties, in our media, in our intelligentsia and in our social elite.

On this 60th anniversary of our Independence I call upon every Indian to think of India first and work to make India first.

Monday, August 13, 2007

Frog in the well syndrome of the Malayali..

Maybe I have been out of Kerala for a good 20 years of my life, I do not know, I am surprised at the frog in the well syndrome of most of the malayalis. Things have changed a lot. People are getting narrow minded day after day. Do not want to improve and go beyond the narrow view of life, neither will he allow his friends to go up. With limited exposure of the outside world, his ego already terribly bloated, he thinks very highly of himself, may not be wrong, and is the first to cast the early stone, knowing fully well his limitations.

Casting the first stone and pulling down his friend / colleague is characteristic of the average malayali. Living in mediocrity and allowing others not to cross over into excellence.

That explains the reason why the average malayali finds himself in a self made bottomless pit and cannot come up in his homeland. The media and press too play an important role in bloating this ego of the malayali, By providing silly news, developmental news is sidelinedby the media, unmindful of the damage it does to the development policies and plans of the state. The media also is to blame for this sad state of affairs..

Kerala does not have a major industry to boast of, other than education, trading and militant trade unionism. It's citizens are forced to move out of the state and out of the country in search of bread and butter. I was subjected to that many years back. The people already in cushy jobs in the govt or aided sector within the state find themselves in cushier surroundings, unmindful of their responsibilities to the society, but very conscious of their rights.

Kerala is the hottest market for all the latest expensive upmarket luxury cars in the country. How does Malayali fuel his urge to showoff, even in midst of poverty and poor industrial development ? Who is funding this false ego of the average malayali ? His relative in the Gulf ? The sweat which he turns to dollars are available for his people back home to squander. His love and concern for his siblings is too great !! The best mansions, the best cars, what not, the best of everything.

If this money is put back into some development projects in the state it will create jobs within the state. The malayali does not have to go out searching for a decent job. Will our politicians allow that? They are the parasites in the society. Totally ignorant of the outside world. Just look at the industrial investment which has gone into Tamil Nadu last year, almost 10,000 crores and the money which has come to Kerala ? a paltry 100 - 200 crores. Where are we standing and what is our future ? The brains to propel the industry in Tamil Nadu and Karnataka is from Kerala.

Pity the malayali, unless he removes this mask of falsehood and false ego, he will not prosper, he will never be independent. Unable to let his state grow and become number one in the country. False and petty ideologies do destroy the state. Long live Hypocrisy !! Care for your fellow human being and believe that if your friend prospers, it is Kerala which is prospering. More jobs are getting created for the Malayali.

george ( a malayali, doing self introspection..)

Our great achievements and failures in 60 years ..

On the 15th of August 2007, India is celebrating 60 years of independence. Many organisations are planning activities to coincide with this great occasion. But we need to have a solid picture of what are our strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats (SWOT analysis) during the past sixty years and into the future, to be confident of where we are heading to and where we can reach.

Let us introspect with our failures and weaknesses as that will give a true picture of the situation.

The biggest scourge in India is our obsession with authority and excessive bureaucratic control over anything and everything. This has resulted in intereference in every sphere of life by decision makers delaying decision making and resulting in major drawbacks like poverty, illiteracy, malnutrition and corruption. The resources do not reach the targeted individuals instead land up in the wrong places and wrong people, defeating the very purpose of the funding or policies.

Even after sixty years almost 40 percent of our population are still below poverty line. Thousands of families still go to bed daily without a proper meal. This is happening when our country boasts of record food-grain production and stocks in the warehouses of Food Corporation of India. Thousands of families suffer from the ills of illiteracy. The benefits which otherwise would have come to them through education is now getting diverted to other sections of society. It is not the question of one section robbing the benefits of another section, that is what our policy makers seem to have been worried about initially. Some of the policies like reservation have done some good, but more harm in the long run. Thousand of children are malnourished or undernourished, leading to improper development of the body, intellect and a healthy mind. Illegal diversification of funds meant for such programmes results in very low utility, often resulting in unattained targets and goals.

The basic premise of the government that the weaker and socially backward comunities of the country need to be taken care well and should be given reservations in government posts was a thinking of the old times. We were encouraging mediocrity in our society, thinking and lifestyle. Now with liberalisation, privatisation and globalization, the playing ground is getting leveled with each passing day. There are plenty of opportunities with many foreign players entering the industry and Indian organizations going abroad. It will be a great experience for the people who are willing to take the risks, be it any field, education, Industry, health care, banking, insurance, financial institutions, software development, professional services, BPO, Knowledge outsourcing, the oportunities are aplenty. The government should only look at regulating and implementing major policy decisions. It should move out of education, health care and other fields of import and allow entrepreneurial spirit to flourish in the country, then only the country can prosper and grow.

Once the government withdraws itself from major decision making involving the common man's life, half the problems of the country will be over.

Our greatest achievements in the past sixty years has been our green revolution, courtesy Dr M S Swaminathan, white revolution, courtesy Dr Verghese Kurien, Space technoloigy development, courtesy a host of people including Vikram Sarabhai, our nuclear technology development, courtesy Raja Ramanna, Sethna, Homi Bhabha, missile technology development, courtesy Dr APJ Abdul Kalam and others from DRDO and ISRO, our educational development, courtesy Nehru and Sarabhai for setting up IIMs and IITs besides the numerous NITs, state engineering colleges and more recently the self financing educational institutions and medical colleges.

Liberalisation, privatisation and globalization, courtesy fromer PM, Narasimha Rao and Finance Min Dr Manmohan Singh. In fact it has been the defining moment of Indian growth in the post 90s. Growth of Indian heavy Industry by establishing the public sector units, bridges, dams, and steel and power plants, hydrolecetric and nuclear projects and so on. Thanks to prudent investment and control policies of the govt post '90, now we have efficient and effective financial institutions, a very active stock exchange and banking system, which vibrates in resonance with international fiscal reveberations, thanks to globalization.

To top it all, the democratic sytem of governance and politics has made the system so lively and kicking. We have a billion plus population working in synergy through disputes for the development of the country. Though the consensus does emerge slowly in this vast country, the agreed to consensus helps it to move like a juggernaut, creating awe and surprise among the other nations at it's potential for growth and development.

India in the coming years is sure going to be a place with little of government controls and excess of growth and entrepreneurship.

george..

Tuesday, August 07, 2007

The IndoUS nuclear deal, the salient points and benefits ..

The Indo US nuclear deal - salient points

Nuclear energy has always been beyond the grasp of the ordinary Indian. The many ways in which it can be generated ( they call it fission, isotopes of Uranium etc.. ) and the problems associated with fission reaction (the release of energy) going out of control ! Fusion happening on the Sun surface is another form of release of terrific amounts of energy, but mankind has not developed enough to contain the reaction within a laboratory, except under very controlled environments.

Also somebody reminds me that Chernobyl in Northern Russia in 1986 or Three Mile island in Pennsylvania in 1979 was an instance when nuclear plant maintenance went wrong and the radiations coming from these atomic particles spread all over Europe. They say the radiations could damage our health for ever .. The radiations are dangerous and we could contract cancer and genes in the cells of our body could get deformed for ever. ( they call it mutation..) The future generations could come up with no nose, no eyes, or something like that. sounds scary..!

Just yesterday I saw on TV the damage caused by atom bombs dropped on Hiroshima and Nagazaki in Japan 62 years back. It was a gruesome reminder of the power of this contraption. That incident had started this great debate and control regime regarding nuclear technology and nuclear materials, who can use and who can misuse it.

Ever since the world realized the power of this device, the countries which already had this technology decided to block the spread of technology to other countries, especially in the aftermath of the second World War. They blocked the entry of other countries to this exclusive group (to which only the technologically advanced countries of that time had access, namely US, Russia, UK, France and lately China) and brought about a nuclear non-proliferation treaty to prevent other countries clandestinely getting this technology from the nuclear powers. ( of course for consideration of cash the A Q Khan expose in Pakistan , or for political reasons as in Pakistan, Iran and North Korea, which are being helped by China, an accepted nuclear power, violating Nuclear non-proliferation treaty, NPT norms). The technologically advanced countries came up with the Nuclear Suppliers Group (NSG) among whom only transfer of nuclear material or technology could take place.

The nuclear powers US, Russia, China, UK and France espoused a nuclear free world. They believed nobody other than them could responsibly possess nuclear technology and material. This self high moral stand circumvented them from any feeling of impropriety from not taking any effort to see their nuclear stocks reduced. They claimed that the nuclear weapons with them could act as a stabilizer of world peace and a deterrent to any attacks. The high moral stand they self assumed was actually holding the other countries to ransom indirectly.

It was at that time, India under H J Babha and Sethna, started work on an indigenous nuclear programme. In 1972 under the leadership of the former PM, Ms Indira Gandhi detonated the first indigenously developed atomic device in Pokhran. The world was shocked ! India was trying to bulldoze its way into the group of nuclear powered countries which was being resisted by the other nuclear powers tooth and nail. Others were not willing to accept our claim to be a full blown nuclear power and were belittling our efforts. It finally required years of neglect and isolation in international scientific circles, for the real growth of Indian prowess and superiority in indigenous R & D, to get US come abegging at Indian doors to engage it constructively and block any more advancement.

Even though at different points of time our leaders espoused the calls of making the world nuclear free, it never was received well. Being a developing economy, the pressure on energy generation and consumption was staring at our face. We tried the non-nuclear route by signing up with the Iranians to pipe natural gas through Pakistan to India. US opposed this vehemently and came with this proposal.

Nuclear power in India by the World Nuclear Association

If it were not for benefits, US would never have inked the documents regarding the nuclear deal which offered separation of Indian nuclear installations into civilian and defence, inspection of civilian nuclear plants and offer of fuel in perpetuity to the plants. In case we detonated another nuclear weapon, India would not be isolated and even though the fuel would be taken back, India would be encouraged and helped to get fuel from other sources in the NSG. We hope our scientists and diplomats too did their homework well and never allowed the US to sit on our shoulders. Let me just list some of the benefits to US and to India.

1. Being able to sell nuclear reactors for civilian projects, a deal that can bring billions of dollars of business back to US and revive it's sagging economy. It has the backing from all major business houses, including GE ( ??) which will mostly be supplying the reactors.

2. The present nuclear technology revolves on the Uranium cycle and it's conversion and reprocessing of the spent fuel. This is about 40-50 years old. Australia possesses about 40 percent of the world Uranium reserves. Another radioactive element is Thorium. India has about 30 percent of Thorium reserves in the world on the Kerala coast. ( It was part of the Gondwana coast with Australia millions of years back).

India has had an indigenous research program in the Thorium cycle ( being isolated by the international community following the 1972 detonation by stopping Uranium supply. But our scientists outsmarted all of them, like we did in the supercomputing -CDAC / telecommunications area - CDOT.) Indian research in nuclear technology by the Thorium cycle, according to informed sources, is at least 20 years ahead of US in this area. It is this innate fear that India will overtake it in the nuclear race or would hand over this technology to rogue countries ( which it has not done so far and has been a responsible nuclear power ) that is the main factor. India can be contained from overtaking US only by engaging it in a positive way, even if it means compromising US interests temporarily.

3. By providing India a clean solution to it's booming energy crisis, India could be persuaded to back out of the Natural gas pipeline deal with Iran. Iran being a rogue state and a threat to Western domination of the world, in the eyes of the US, isolating it is on top priority in US radar. If India does withdraw from the pipeline project, it will be a big blow for Iran and also will see that Iran remains diplomatically and economically isolated in the world.

4. This deal has demonstrated to the world how responsible the largest and civilized democracy in the world has been, how strongly it is committed to play by the rules of the game. In a democracy, the transparency in all public dealings necessitated by a free media and press, eventhough at times, seems a block to development, is a real boon.

Nuclear non-proliferation

The deal, no doubt, is a recognition of Indian indigenous efforts - not clandestinely procuring, of nuclear technology development and of it's supremacy in the Thorium cycle. Its commitment to nuclear non-proliferation in the world, in spite of being a non-signatory to the NPT, tops it all. On the whole, the deal is a positive step and indication that India has an important role to play to ensure world peace in the future.

Indian political leadership needs to understand this responsibility and act accordingly.

George Easaw

Monday, August 06, 2007

The Kerala Professional Education chaos continues ..

In spite of the Kerala high court partially imposing ban on the different fee structures in the private medical colleges which joined with the state, the state Education Minister M A Baby is hell bent on not allowing the Cathlic Managements any say in their admission process. The basic presumption in the constitution and the supreme court verdict in the TMA Pai case states that cross subsidy in the same class cannot be permitted. The Kerala government is still acting stubborn.

Recently it passed the ordinance, bypassing the assembly twenty third time this govt came to power, that permitted the Mohammed committee to decide the new fees and to get it vetted. The High Cort on Monday gave an indication to the government that it is not approving of the govt move to decide the revision of fees through the Mohammed committee as though the committee was an instrument in its hands to be played with at at its will..

The admission proces under the govt quota has run into very rough weather and it may be months before classes can start in the first year of engineering and medical colleges in the state.

In spite of receiving whippings time and again from the different courts, the education minister is very stubborn and is trying his level best to show the world that he is indeed a revolutionary in the educational field in the state. But unfortunately this time his revolutionary actions are directed against peace and stability in the education sector in the state.

When the education minister has not gone through the nerve wracking experience of the parents ( Neither has he seen the gates of any professional institution in the state, unfortunate that such a person is the education minster)

The only solution with the govermnet this time is to accept a common fees for the students throughout the state and depending on the financial capacity of the parent, disburse student loans. An alternative would be to give educational coupons of denominations Rs 25,000 each and give slabs depending on which the number of coupons to be given to a student can be decided. This can ensure there is no disbursal or handling of money, and the whole process of subsidising fees can be achieved with great ease and speed.

george..

Thursday, August 02, 2007

Globalization and it's varied impacts..

Globalization has been a very hot topic which has been discussed many times over on different platforms and in conferences and seminars. This article tries to understand the process of evolution of this global phenomenon across centuries and millenia and attempts of state that this is a phenomenon which has been there for thousands of years can only bring about good to mankind.

The main points in this article are being borrowed from a recent book by Nayan Chanda, from Yale Uty, "Bound Together - how the traders, preachers, adventurers and warriors shaped globalization" - in which pre-historic link to globalization has been made out. In his book Nayan Chanda talks of the different factors which were responsible for globalization from ancient times.

The first group of traders in the olden days travelled across borders and helped countries trade in exchange for what they wanted, either by barter or for the currency of those times. They paved the way for opening up sea routes which led to the other exploits by preachers and adventurers later on. India was famous for it's spices, pepper and ivery. We exchanged it for silk, chinese porcelain, paper and so on from China, Arabia etc.. This trade continues even to this day. Sea Links between Arabia, China, India, South East Asia, Europe, America were all discovered by brave men and their disciplined sub-ordinates who braved the seas and the vagaries of nature to present us with our present day knowledge of the world and it's wonders.

The present day traders, similar to their counterparts of yesteryear are the multinational corporations of the world ( there are many from India too..) who are establishing in different countries going across borders and helping in the trade, manufacture of goods at different places and consumption by different people. Rise of living standards in different parts of the world have automatically given the push and raised the demand for such products which require to be manufactured not in their own countries of consumption but from across the globe, utilising abundantly available, good quality raw materials employing skilled labour.

Global sourcing is a hot word for supply chain professionals which implies procuring the cheapest and best raw materials from the best sources from across the world at the lowest costs of transportation, at the right times with assurances of quality and so on. For computer hardware, we find the cheapest sources in the world are in China and Malaysia. Computer assemblers and manufacturers from across Asia and the rest of the world procure from these sources to give the maximum value to customers at the best price. Traders thus have played a pivotal role in the globalization process and even to this day continue to do so. Simultaneously we find that this gives the necessary impetus and push for development of local, national and international infrastructure.

Preachers were the second group who travelled across borders and sailed the oceans hundreds of years back and spread Christianity, Islam, Budhism, Confucianism and other religions. The preachers were later accompanied by people with vested interests who later on moved to establishing channels of trade and then pursued colonialist desires, for example the Portuguese, English, Dutch missionaries switched over from their core competencies to other areas. This interaction helped in the acceptance of modern thoughts, ideals and beliefs by the people of the world. The world was getting more networked and a livable, united place.

If the old day preachers turned into colonialists with time, the present day preachers are the more aggressive, fundamentalist, intolerant born-again groups representing Christianity and other religions. Also included are the more sober intellectuals representing human rights and environmental activists who are fighting for human rights of the people in the world. This includes specially children's and women's rights besides the rights of HIV patients and so on. Amnesty International, Green Peace are some of the major players in this arena. They are also worried about the impact of global greenhouse gas emissions leading to global warming and melting of glaciers, raising ocean water levels, submerging coasts, destruction of pristine forest cover and the accompanying flora and fauna. A real panicky situation!

The third group are the Adventurers who moved across nations in historic times exploring nations, peoples and this led to the discovery of new lands and sea routes to prosperous lands leading to growth in trade between nations. James Cook, David Livingstone are examples of such personalities. The travels and writings of Marco Polo, Ibn Batuta all point to this natural urge among the people to explore and learn about places and people.

While their effort helped us to explore unknown lands and learn about it's specialities and resources which could be explored, the present day adventurers are more interested in exploring, seeing and feeling new places and experiences than any exploitation. Today we see millions of tourists visiting different countries and learning and experiencing cultures and civilizations. In the process there are lots of interaction of ideas and thoughts among the people. This develops better understanding and tolerance of different cultures, beliefs and ideologies and peoples. A vital component of the present global world order.

The fourth group represented the people who went out in aggression, conquering lands, killing people who opposed their exploits. Warriors like Alexander the Great led their armies to invade foreign countries and demolished cultures and civilizations. We read about such invasions right through history and history is full of such exploits of nations destroying civilizations and cultures. Even though time has passed and education levels have improved, this notion among people has reduced very little.

The present day warriors are from the militarily advanced countries and the lone super power US, trying to establish it's hegemony in other countries, getting countries to accept their supremacy. The attacks on Afghanistan, Iraq was necessitated by factors like religious fundamentalism besides this urge to expand and conquer. In countries in Africa, Asia, Europe and other fragile parts of the world we see that such aggressions are least in the modern world order, thanks to the formation and active participation of multi-lateral bodies like the United Nations and financial arms like World Bank, IMF and so on.

From the Human Genographic Project, sponsored by National Geographic Society of US and IBM, we get insight into how people moved from their base in Africa thousand of years back and spread to other parts of the world by the help of modern technologies like DNA mapping. Humans first moved out from Africa, about 2000 of them, some 40 - 60000 years back and migrated to different parts of the world and set up colonies and civilizations. That is the story of mankind. All evidence points that globalization has been there right from those times. If it were not for the globalizing spirit of our ancestors, we would not have reached where we are presently, doing what we are doing and staying with whom we are staying now.

Globalization is thus not a recent phenomenon, it is as old as mankind and it will be there as long as man walks on this earth. It was known by different names and exists in many forms, some exploitative and some understanding, some helpful and some hostile.

A realisation that this networking of nations and their peoples is what is needed for accelerated development to raise the standards of living of the about six billion inhabitants on this earth has prompted many countries to embrace globalization with open hands. Though India was a late entrant in this process, our progress has been fast and steady. We have integrated so well with the global community like nobody else has. We are today being looked up to for not only serving the back office functions of the western world, but also for leading the world in innovations and research and development. Bangalore and Pune are becoming the research hubs / idea incubators of the world. It can no doubt be stated that Bangalore, Hyderabad and Chennai form the most vibrant, potential and happening triangle in the world. It is slowly overtaking Ireland and the Latin American countries of Brazil and our immediate neighbour China. The pace and fervour with which China has embraced this process about twenty five years back is there for the whole world to see. Thomas Friedman, the New York Times columnist in his famous book "The World is flat" published by Penguin books, has given a splendid insight into how globalization is presently being pursued with great fervour and vigour in different parts of the world, especially India and China.

The way different countries of the world have embraced this phenomenon, pursuing their areas of strength and overcoming their weaknesses in co-operation, or at times competition with other countries, has increased importance to this global process of migration and interaction. When there is properity all around finally from better utilization and consumption of resources, it ensures world peace and stability, making it a win-win situation for all stakeholders in the process.

george..

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