Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Blackened face of humanity

Let us take a bird’s eye view of some of the events of last week

If former Haryana police chief SPS Rathore has got away with a six-month sentence for molesting a 14-year-old girl, Ruchika Girhotra, who killed herself three years later, while desperately searching for justice, it is mainly due to a glaring lacuna in the 150-year-old Indian Penal Code (IPC), which does not have any provisions for child victims of sexual molestation.

While there are special provisions for child victims of rape, where the minimum punishment is 10 years jail as against the norm of seven years, the law on sexual abuse, under which come all abuses apart from rape, has been left untouched.

This anomaly has not been redressed even after the Law Commission, in its 172nd report in 2000, recommended a provision recognizing and penalizing child sexual abuse. Besides expanding the definition of rape to include all forms of penetration, the commission suggested the introduction of an offense called "unlawful sexual contact" to impose a maximum sentence of seven years on the likes of Rathore.

Ruchika case is a glaring example of how the law and order machinery can be misused for personal gains by those in authority- politicians and officials. It also underlines the fact that necessary amendments to IPC must be made, giving due consideration to such crimes. Rathore misused his authority in every possible way. He got Ruchika expelled from the school and framed false cases against her brother. If such a person is left scot free, it will be a very bad example of Indian system of justice.

Rathore loses Police Medal

On relationship:

Spirituality is not a search for the God. It begins when you get connected with HIM from within. That connecting interaction with the surrounding, that relationship, is a spiritual experience. Read my new blog post on the subject.

Compulsory voting:

The Gujarat government has enacted a law which makes voting compulsory in all elections, save the legislative and parliamentary elections. It has drawn mixed reactions. They range from acceptance of the norm, lauding it even with caveats that it is impractical.

Some objections:

One: it is not practical.

Two: that it is anti-democratic to force people to vote.

Three: It has a punitive element in it so it is bad.

Four: it amounts to authoritarian move and makes elections something akin to what happens in the people's democracies of Communist regimes, not a liberal regime.

Some supportive arguments:

Poor turnouts: Poor turnouts give room for poor representation.

60 years, no change: If for six decades and more, the country's citizens have not taken the responsibility seriously enough and where on an average, the voter turnout is just about 60 per cent, then serious steps are called for.

Not anti-democracy: It is not anti-democratic. It deepens democracy because the law makes it voter-centric. The option "none-of-the-above" (NOTA) on the ballot serves two purposes. One, it lets the voter say that he is disgusted with the list of candidates. He can express his disgust instead of lamenting about poor options and not voting.

Test it: One needs to give it a fair try and if required, make suitable alterations so that the law is made to work. If elections could be managed near-perfectly in India, this too can be managed quite well.

Quid pro quo: If we do not realise that we have a duty in return for the rights and privileges conferred on us because we are citizens of a democratic country, then the rights and privileges are not ours. One has to acknowledge that quid pro quo.

That quid pro quo has never been enforced because in a free democratic country, it is assumed, the rights include the choice not to participate in the due process, which makes the country truly democratic. If I do not want to vote, the arguer says, it is my right not to. To me, that is not acceptable.

The year that has gone by:

No, I am not going to talk about global warming or the recession. I bring your attention to an event that sent shivers down Pune city and blackened the face of humanity like the Ruchika’s case mentioned in the beginning: Molestation and Murder of Nayana Pujari


Wednesday, December 23, 2009

On relationships

Spirituality is not a search for the God. It begins when you get connected with HIM from within.

That connecting interaction with the surrounding, that relationship, is a spiritual experience.

We are in relationship with our parents, brothers, sisters, offspring, spouse, friends. Our commitment towards relationships initiates, develops and sustains on mutual love and trust and ceases when these values are lost. Healthy relationships enrich our life.

Relationship becomes fragile when .. ..

it is based on falsehood

intentions are doubted,

mutual respect is lost,

suspicion replaces trust,

a promise is not kept, repeatedly,

partners do not care for each other.

Never you do it to your partner !

But if someone does it on you ?

Well, use your wisdom ! Refresh !!

Try your best to get reconnected !!!

Snapping ties is the last recourse, when every attempt fails.

So, make a beginning .. ..


Monday, December 21, 2009

Why should India be concerned about climate change

As expected, last week was dominated by the climate change meet at Copenhagen. Let us take a bird’s eye view of the last week’s developments.

Swine flu:

After the initial hesitation, the government included private hospitals in the fight against swine flu. But lately, they are facing flak from the government once again. So far, there are 670 deaths due to swine flu in our country and according the Health Ministry most of it is due late reporting for which they hold private doctors responsible. Two things are obvious: (a) private doctors require training on the modalities, (b) better coordination between the government and private agencies is required

Climate change at Copenhagen:

A tonne of carbon dioxide emitted in India is the same as a tonne of carbon dioxide emitted in the U.S., but that isn't making climate negotiations any simpler in Copenhagen. India has displayed flexibility in its climate change position by offering to adopt the international guidelines under the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC), while reporting to Parliament on its unsupported domestic efforts to deal with climate change. This move can be viewed as a significant step. It conveys to the global community that India’s reporting would be at international standards, at the same time the government would be able to tell the domestic audience that it has not submitted to international review.

Why should India be concerned about climate change? The three main ‘categories’ of impacts, namely those on agriculture, sea level rise leading to submergence of coastal areas as well as increased frequency of extreme events. Each of these pose serious threats to India. Read this article and more such interesting articles. Help India become Carbon Neutral.

China and the US were placed at the bottom end of a worldwide national ranking of performance on climate protection published on Monday, 14 December 2009. Compiled by Germanwatch, a think tank and the Climate Action Newtork (CAN), an alliance of environment pressure groups, the annual Climate Change Performance Index ranks countries based on their climate protection performance, comparing 57 industrialised countries and emerging economies.

Money laundering:

A team from the Financial Action Task Force (FATF), an intergovernmental body that sets benchmarks for legislation on money laundering, is in India to assess the country’s legal and enforcement framework. The assessment, which ends on Friday, 18 December 2009, will set the ball rolling for New Delhi’s membership of the elite body.

Illegal activities such as drug trafficking, trade in weapons and white collar crimes can generate large sums of money. Money laundering refers to the act of making these gains legitimate by disguising the source of money, changing its form or moving it to a location where not many questions are asked.

Storing power in the grid:

The distribution of electricity to millions of consumers is a difficult task because while the amount of electricity generated is relatively fixed over short periods of time, the demand for electricity fluctuates throughout the day. A highly efficient electricity grid that can easily harmonize energy production with energy consumption is needed to answer this problem. Read my recent blog post on the subject

Danish Island:

The Danish island of Samso has become one of the first industrialized places on Earth to qualify as completely energy self-sufficient. Should we aim at converting our villages into the so called ‘Danish Islands’ using appropriate renewable technology ?

India’s first commercial MW power plant:

Union Minister for New and Renewable Energy Dr. Farooq Abdullah on 15 Dec 2009 (Tuesday) inaugurated country’s first commercial 2 mega watt Solar Power Plant in Punjab’s Amritsar District.

Cement and concrete:

Those working on cement and concrete may have a look at my recent blog post on International Journals on Cement.

See you next week


Sunday, December 13, 2009

The Pandora's box

The week was dominated by Telangana Rashtra Samiti (TRS) chief K. Chandrasekhara Rao, who was on indefinite fast for his demand of Separate Telangana State. The Pandora's box was opened when the Government at the Centre declared that the bifurcation of present Andhra Pradesh can be considered to carve out the separate state of Telangana. Where as there are huge protests from the parties opposed to the idea (including Congress Party), the earlier somewhat mute demands of separate statehood from the other parts of the country became strong, example: Vidarbha, Gorkha Land and so on. The demands for separate statehood are due to increased aspirations of people on the one hand and the regional imbalances in the development created over the years, within the State, on the other. The imporatant question is whether the creation of smaller states shall lead to better development or only add to the administartive machinery.

Tiger Woods announced that he will be away from the Golf for some time and spend time with his family. Tiger is a great player. Hope he settles the personal issues and returns to the professional life soon.

At Copenhagen, India declared that whilst they are ready to go with the world in terms of limiting the carbom emissions on voluntary basis, they will not accept any legal binding. I think we in India should focus on (a) renewable sources like solar and wind energy (b) reduce the energy losses and pilferages, example in electricity transmission.

As an academician, I always searched for a perfect model for academic-industry cooperation.
James Weyhenmeyer, Senior Vice Provost for Research with the State University of New York (SUNY) shows the way.


Sunday, November 15, 2009

कन्या राणी

ह्या प्रेमाचा रंग कसा
प्रश्न पड़े मज
प्रथम ऐकला जव स्वर तुझा
वाटले हीच असे मम कन्या राणी ॥ १ ॥

न स्मरे मज
कधी भेटलो मी तुज
कधी गाईली अंगाई
कधी चाललिस तू
बोट धरून माझे
कधी ऐकले बोबडे बोल तुझे
नाठवे मजला
ह्या प्रेमाचा रंग कसा -- -- ॥ २ ॥

करुणासागर असे तव हृदयी
कोकिल स्वरा नृत्यांगना
स्वयं सिद्धा असशी तू
बघुनी हे सुंदर रूप तुझे
वाटे करावी कवतिके
ह्या प्रेमाचा रंग कसा -- -- ॥ ३ ॥

कालाचा आरसा रुपे अनंत दावी
गत जन्मी मम कन्या तू असावी
इश कृपे जरी विस्मारालो ते सर्व काही
परी नाते स्वरांचे आठवे पूर्व सुकृते आजही ॥ ४ ॥

ह्या प्रेमाचा रंग कसा
उलगडे हा प्रश्न मला
विश्वास असे गतजन्मिची
मम कन्या राणी
भेटली मज ह्या जन्मी
हृदयी वसे ती उर्मी ममतेची
ह्या प्रेमाचा रंग असा ॥ ५ ॥

जयंता काका

Friday, October 9, 2009

Vote for India

All of us must vote, for it is a privilege given to all citizens of democratic India! Our vote counts !!

A special appeal for all those searching for alibis how not to vote. As one saying goes: people get the governance which they deserve. Shying away from voting is not only forfeiting your constitutional right but also a disservice to the nation. If the government that comes to power does not work, we are also responsible, for we voted them to power. So for nations sake, please vote !

If we want better law and order, clean public life, efficiency and development, then it all begins with one vote.

Whom do we vote? The first step is to know the candidate you intend to vote.

Do not vote for candidate or party seeking vote in the name of caste, region, religion or language. The character and the secular credentials of the candidate must be above the board.

Vote for development with peace

Vote for India

Saturday, September 19, 2009

Waste collection & recycling: example for municipalities from UK

The councils are being focused upon in a new scheme designed to improve recycling rates in the UK. The Local Government Association (LGA) is backing a project from the Waste and Resources Action Programme (WRAP) to get councils to commit to increasing their environmental efforts.


a) WRAP helps individuals, businesses and local authorities to reduce waste and recycle more, making better use of resources and helping to tackle climate change.

b) Established as a not-for-profit company in 2000, WRAP is backed by government funding from England, Scotland, Wales, and Northern Ireland. WRAP also receives funding from Advantage West Midlands.

c) Working in seven key areas (Construction, Retail, Manufacturing, Organics, Business and Markets, Behavioural Change, and Local Authority Support), WRAP’s work focuses on market development and support to drive forward recycling and materials resource efficiency within these sectors, as well as wider communications and awareness activities including the multi-media national Recycle Now campaign for England.

d) More information on all of WRAP's programmes can be found on www.wrap.org.uk


The LGA is a cross-party organisation which represents over 350 councils in England.

A ten-point voluntary agreement called the Waste Collection Commitment has been drawn up by WRAP and councils are being urged to sign up.

1 - Explain clearly what services you can expect to receive;

2 - Provide regular collections;

3 - Provide a reliable collection service;

4 - Consider any special requests that individual households may have;

5 - Design our services and carry out collections in a way that doesn’t produce litter;

6 - Collect as many materials for recycling as we can and explain to you what happens to them;

7 - Explain clearly what our service rules are and the reasons for them;

8 - Tell you in good time if we have to make changes to your services, even temporarily;

9 - Respond to complaints we receive about our services; and

10 - Tell all our residents about this commitment to collecting waste.

Waste collection and recycling is a serious problem in Indian cities. The effort made by UK government provides a good model for adoption by the municipal corporations.

Friday, September 18, 2009

India must review China policy

Barely weeks after it failed in its attempt to block Asian Development Bank (ADB) funds to a project in Arunachal Pradesh, China has successfully struck back. Last month, in a development New Delhi has been quiet about, China won a vote on a “disclosure agreement,” which prevents ADB from formally acknowledging Arunachal Pradesh as part of India. (A disclosure agreement is a formal notification of a project once it’s approved by the ADB Board).This is despite the fact that the US and most of western block voted in favour of India.

It is high time India takes a review of the policy towards China. Such review should take into account our experience before 1962, Chinese covert support to Pakistan, recent border incursions, Chinese invasion with substandard goods in Indian market and so on

China can't afford to go for a war. But the fact remains that its sole aim is to weaken India on all fronts. China wants to prove that it's an economic superpower in the region. Read more .. ..

Thursday, September 17, 2009

Credit scheme for small scale renewables: Australian example

Australians who install rooftop solar panels are now entitled to avail of the Solar Credits program, a cost-reduction scheme on small-scale renewable energy systems established through the government’s Renewable Energy Target (RET) legislation.

Under the Solar Credits scheme, a household installing rooftop panels can receive up to five times as many Renewable Energy Certificates (RECs) for every megawatt-hour of energy produced by their panels. RECs are an electronic form of currency which can be traded by its earners, as provided for by the RET. The solar Credits will significantly reduce the cost of going solar at home.

It is a very good example for the policy makers in India, who are currently considering schemes to encourage the use of renewable energy sources on small scale. Along with solar, the other form of renewables, such as wind, should also be brought under the purview of such scheme.

Thursday, September 3, 2009

The world wide web is just 40

Chronology of events in the life of Internet


On September 2, two computers at University of California, Los Angeles, exchange meaningless data in first test of Arpanet, an experimental military network 1972

Ray Tomlinson brings email to the network, choosing @ as a way to specify email addresses belonging to other systems 1973

Arpanet gets first international nodes, in England and Norway 1974 Vint Cerf and Bob Kahn develop communications technique called TCP, allowing multiple networks to understand one another, creating a true internet 1983

Domain name system is proposed. Creation of suffixes such as ‘.com’, ‘.gov’ and ‘.edu’ comes a year later


One of the first internet worms, Morris, cripples thousands of computers


Tim Berners- Lee creates the World Wide Web while developing ways to control computers remotely


Marc Andreessen and colleagues at University of Illinois create Mosaic, the first web browser to combine graphics and text on a single page


Andreessen and others on the Mosaic team form a company to develop the first commercial web browser, Netscape. Two immigration lawyers introduce the world to spam, advertising their green card lottery services


Napster popularizes music file-sharing and spawns successors that have permanently changed the recording industry


The dot-com boom of the 1990s becomes a bust as technology companies slide


Mark Zuckerberg starts Facebook at Harvard University


Launch of YouTube video-sharing site 2007

Apple releases iPhone, introducing millions more to wireless internet access

World internet population surpasses 250 million in 1999, 500 million in 2002, 1 billion in 2006 and 1.5 billion in 2008

Just imagine how would it be if there was no Internet today?

Saturday, August 15, 2009

Meaning of freedom

Happy 63rd India Independence Day! Independence means freedom from bondage, constraints. Independence guarantees citizens' human rights. However rights sans responsibilities lead to indiscipline and anarchy. At times, we see that kind of a situation in our country. The expression of freedom must be with restraint, keeping in view the overall national interest. We need to teach this in the primary schools and enforce it in the public life for the benefit of all law abiding citizens.

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Swine flu: symptoms, diagnosis and treatment

Incubation Period

One to seven days


Manifestations of H1N1 influenza (swine flu) are similar to those of seasonal influenza. Patients present with symptoms of acute respiratory illness, including at least two of the following

* Fever

* Cough

* Sore throat

* Body aches

* Headache

* Chills and fatigue

Diarrhea and vomiting (possible)


Influenza viruses can be directly transmitted from pigs to people and from people to pigs.
Human infection with flu viruses from pigs are most likely to occur when people are in close proximity to infected pigs, such as in pig barns and livestock exhibits housing pigs at fairs.
Human-to-human transmission of influenza A (H1N1) can also occur. At present, in India we have two indigenous cases. This is thought to occur in the same way as seasonal flu, which is mainly person-to-person transmission through coughing or sneezing by people infected with the influenza virus.

Disease spreads very quickly among the population especially in crowded places.

Cold and dry weather enables the virus to survive longer outside the body than in other conditions and, as a consequence, seasonal epidemics in temperate areas appear in winter.

People may become infected by touching / handling something contaminated with flu viruses on it and then touching their mouth or nose.

Influenza A (H1N1) viruses are not transmitted by food.

Eating properly handled and cooked pork (at an internal temparature of > 160 degree Fahrenheit) and pork products is safe.

Diagnosis of H1N1

For diagnosis of influenza A (H1N1) infection, respiratory specimen would generally need to be collected within the first four to five days of illness (when an infected person is most likely to be shedding virus). However, some persons, especially children, may shed virus for 10 days or longer.


The treatment given below is only indicative and should be taken only with doctor's advice

For Adults: For case- Tab Oseltamivir 75 mg B D for five days

For Chemoprophylaxis - Tab Oseltamivir 75 mg O D for 10 days

For children:Syrup Oseltamivir as per doctor's advice.

Watch a video on Swine Flu

FAQ about swine flu

Catagorise patients for better treatment

Swine Flu: myths and facts

WHO warning

India tops H1N1 death rate

With 100 deaths in 3,987 laboratory confirmed positive H1N1 cases, India has registered a mortality rate of 2.3 per cent — much above the 0.9 per cent mortality rate for the rest of the world.

Advice to parents on H1N1

The vast majority of children who develop flu-like symptoms this fall will have a few miserable days and nothing more. Those days are best spent at home -- not in the ER or a doctor's office. read more....

Docs suggest drug combo to treat H1N1

the doctors suggest use of combination of two anti-viral drugs instead of just Tamiflu to contain deterioration in the condition of critical patients. Use of double dose of Tamiflu is another option in the case of critical patients.

Ultimate guide to flu virus:

A flu virus may be 90 times smaller than a human red blood cell - so small it can hide between light waves - but in a typical year it can cause nearly half as many deaths as traffic accidents. As skilled at changing its appearance as Tom Cruise in "Mission Impossible," the flu virus mutates from one season to the next, making last year's immunizations useless in fighting this year's variation. But recent developments in the pharmaceutical industry are improving the odds on the medical battlefield. Learn more about this devious pathogen and your weapons against it .. ..

Indian vaccine for Swine Flu to be ready by March 2010:

An Indian vaccine against the pandemic strain of swine flu will be ready for use by March next with the authorities planning to fast-track clinical trials in accordance with international protocols. It was proposed to combine the different phases of clinical trials from safety to immunogenicity in the fast-track mode to make the vaccine available in March 2010, as otherwise it would be ready only by the end of 2010. Read more .. ..

Sunday, July 26, 2009

Vijay Diwas: salute the kargil war heroes

The Prime Minister of India, Manmohan Singh, on 26 July 2009 led the nation in paying homage to the martyrs of the Kargil war on its 10th anniversary- Vijay Diwas.

A decade back, on July 26, 1999, Indian soldiers defeated the Pakistani infiltrators after fighting for over 40 days at the heights of Kargil and Drass in Jammu and Kashmir and in the process sacrificing their lives. They went as men and returned as heroes. At the height of 1000 feet, where it is even difficult to breathe, Indian soldiers crawled on the mountains, faced the enemy bullets and achieved the martyrdom but not before driving out the enemy.

“They sacrificed their lives in defense of Indian unity and integrity. The best tribute we can pay to the gallant officers and jawans is to dedicate ourselves to the gigantic task of nation building and work steadfastly to protect the unity and integrity of our nation," wrote in Prime Minister in the visitor’s book at Amar Jawan Jyoti, New Delhi

This was the first time in the last five years of UPA rule that the political leadership has also participated in the Kargil war day celebrations. Singh was accompanied by Defense Minister A K Antony, Navy Chief Admiral Sureesh Mehta, Army Vice Chief Lieutenant General Noble Thamburaj and Air Force Vice Chief Air Marshal P K Barbora.

While wreaths were laid at the War Memorial amid a majestic fly past by Mig 21 Bison aircraft and showering of petals by Chetak helicopters, the families of many of the slain soldiers got an account of the bravery of their loved ones from the personnel of the forces, colleagues and friends.

Describing the Pakistani military maneuvers over Kargil region as a tactical action, Lt Gen (Retd) H M Khanna, the former Northern Army Commander during the Kargil conflict said that the Pakistani decision to occupy the uninhibited ridges was limited to gain a specific end rather than a strategic move. They paid a price militarily, politically and diplomatically for the risky endeavor.

The General opined that the Army did have alternate action plan to occupy vulnerable areas under Pakistani control, but for that the Line of Control (LoC) had to be crossed. However, the political decision was strictly not to cross the LoC, which may have widened the conflict area with serious ramifications.

Many of the books written during and immediately after the limited three-month hostilities chronicles the grit and determination of the soldiers who fought the war on the icy heights braving the toughest weather conditions. The outbreak of hostilities also showed that the Pakistan political establishment was not in line with the thinking and planning of the army brass.

The accurate bombardment by Indian Army's Bofors guns and Air Force jets that helped in dislodging enemy intruders from Kargil, was largely possible due to the continuous feed-back of their hits generated through aerial photography done by the Jaguar unit of IAF led by Wing Commander Ashwani Bhakoo (now retired Group Captain) amidst enemy fire. The Jaguar aircrafts flying at around 200 feet above ground level, were fitted with sensitive high resolution cameras that could be put on video mode while flying at a speed of 850 km/h.

Gallantry in the blood:

"Why do you want to join the army?" asked the officer during the interview.
"I have come here for the Param Vir Chakra (PVC)," answered the boy.
Surprised with boy's confident answer, the officer shot another question: "Do you know when PVC is given?"
Prompt came the reply: "It is given when you lay down your life while fighting for the country."

Few years later, the boy proved his statement true. While narrating this incident, Gopichand Pandey could not hide the shine in his teary eyes. After all, he is the proud father of Captain Manoj Kumar Pandey, who was posthumously given the Param Vir Chakra, the highest gallantry award of the country, for his exemplary valour in the Kargil war of 1999. Ten years later, the entire nation still remembers this son of the soil and salutes his chivalry.

Pune's Tribute:

Around 400 people including students, civilians and retired army officers commemorated the Kargil Vijay Diwas at the National War Memorial in Morwada Junction braving the rain on Monday evening.

The seniormost defence officers in Pune — Air Chief Marshal H Mulgaonkar (retd) and Admiral Jayant Nadkarni (retd)— placed wreaths at the memorial.

Lt General H M Khanna (retd), who commanded the Northern Operations during the Kargil War, also laid a wreath at the memorial, while Brigadier Rajbir Singh, commander of the Pune Sub area laid the wreath on behalf of the Army Commander, General Officer Commanding in Chief (GOC-in-C), Southern Command. Industrialist Arun Firodia, actor Mohan Agashe and civic activist Satish Mehendale represented the civilians.

“We are touched by this tribute paid by the citizens of Pune who have gathered here despite the rainy weather. If the weather had been better, many more would have come,” said Air Marshal A K Trikha (retd).

Video on Kargil war

Indian Air Force in action at Kargil war

A tribute to kargil war heroes

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Solar eclipse of the century

The celestial spectacle on Wednesday, 22 July 2009, will darken major cities, densely populated countryside, and a vast expanse of tropical ocean. The eclipse itself will be a monster, with totality – when the sun is completely covered by the moon – lasting more than 6.6 minutes at maximum. That makes this the longest totality until 2132.

A total solar eclipse occurs once every year or two on average, but each is visible only from a narrow track covering less than 1 per cent of Earth's surface. The eclipse of 1 August 2008, was visible only from parts of the Arctic, Siberia, and central Asia.

The main reason why this year's totality lasts so long is because the eclipse starts just a few hours after the moon reaches perigee, the point at which it is closest to Earth in its orbit . At such a close distance, the moon appears fully 8 per cent larger than the sun and casts a broader than usual shadow. At the point of greatest eclipse in the western Pacific, the path of totality is 258 km wide.

Gravity anomaly:

The Chinese researchers are poised to conduct an audacious once-in-a-century experiment, covering remote observatories on the Tibetan plateau to a cave in a Shanghai suburb. The plan is to test a controversial theory: the possibility that gravity drops slightly during a total eclipse.

NASA's eclipse website
Get the story and watch the video

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Solar eclipse

Tight security cover is in place in Taregna, a small village in the Indian State of Biahr, in view of a strike called by Maoists on Wednesday, when hundreds of scientists and tourists from across the world will converge in Taregna to watch the century's longest total solar eclipse.

Scientists, researchers and astro-tourists from different parts of the world are expected to start arriving in the village, about 35 km from the state capital Patna, on Tuesday evening ahead of the total solar eclipse on Wednesday. These include scientists from US space agency NASA, Britain, Italy, Poland, Germany, France, as well as from the Tata Institute for Fundamental Research (TIFR) and the Council of Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR).

The total eclipse, starting a little after sunrise, is expected to last three minutes and 48 seconds at Taregna. According to the NASA forecast based on satellite imagery, the sky over the region is likely to be less cloudy than others along the path of the total solar eclipse. So it may offer one of the best views of the celestial phenomenon.

Taregna already has an ancient connection with astronomy, having been one of the two places used by 6th century Indian astronomer-mathematician Aryabhatta for his celestial studies. It is believed he was the first to announce that the earth revolves around the sun after his marathon research in an observatory at Taregna

Get the story and watch the video

Monday, July 20, 2009

The Pune Municipal Corporation (PMC) gets transparent

PuneScoop reports: Taking a step towards transparency, the Pune Municipal Corporation (PMC) has decided to give the citizens access to its records every Monday. Also, the civic body has decided to start a separate cell for streamlining the process of dissemination of information under Right to Information Act (RTI)

In a press statement issued on Thursday, the municipal corporation has stated that the PMC has decided to give common people access to the civic records from August 1. Any citizen can ask for civic records on any matter at the civic headquarters at Shivajinagar or any ward office between 3 pm and 5 pm. Xerox copies of the record will be made available for a nominal fees, said the press release.

The PMC has also decided to provide any information sought under the RTI within three weeks and non-availability of the information will be communicated to the applicant immediately. All the pending applications under the RTI till date will be answered before August 15 by the nodal officer. The PMC will also organise training for its employees on RTI

Congratulations Sh Mahesh Zagade Ji, Municipal Commissioner ! It is a major step towards transparent public administration. Transparency reduces corruption.

Friday, July 17, 2009

Eagle nebula

Science Daily , July 17, 2009, reports on the Eagle Nebula located 7000 light-years away, towards the constellation of Serpens (the Snake), the Eagle Nebula is a dazzling stellar nursery, a region of gas and dust where young stars are currently being formed and where a cluster of massive, hot stars, NGC 6611, has just been born.

Recall Hindu mythology. The Lord Vishnu, beholder of the Universe, rides on the eagle eating serpents. Do you see any similarity between the myth and the science ?

Wednesday, July 8, 2009

National employment exchange

The Finance Minister, in his budget speech 2009, mooted an idea of setting up an employment exchange at the national level. It will consist of a national web portal that will run in public-private partnership. The job seeker can register online. The portal shall contain all the data regarding the availability of skilled manpower on the one hand and the requirement of the industry, on the other. It will help individual to obtain proper placement and also enable industry to procure required skills, on the real time basis. Such a portal on the national level will definitely help the job seeker to know whom to approach to seek the right job.

Wednesday, April 8, 2009

Is India a flawed democracy ?

The Economist Intelligence Unit's 2008 Democracy Index ranks India 35th among the 'flawed democracies' of the world. As citizens, should we reject these findings, as most of our politicians have done promptly. The agency has used some 60 indicators to assess. Let us make our own assessment, using some of the major indicators.

Civil Liberties: We enjoy full civil liberty. However, thousands of innocent people languish in jails without any trial for years.

Political Culture: The politics in the country is polarised on caste, region and religious lines. The parliament sessions are marked by chaos. The members often do not sit in the House. What can you expect, when criminals become legislators!

Public Participation: The most dangerous feature of our democracy is the public apathy. The 50% of the population, i.e. women, do not have adequate representation in the governance. The people do not vote; as a result the legislators are mostly elected on the minority vote.

Government: The Indian government machinery is known for its corruption and inefficiency, world over.

Under these conditions, if someone calls India a flawed democracy, it is not too much off the mark

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

India Should be Proud of Nano

It was JRD Tata who made air travel affordable to the common man. The history has been repeated with the launch of Nano. This time it Ratan Tata who realised the dream of million of Indians to own a car, at an affordable price. The middle class Indian finds it affordable even in these times of slowdown. Tata Nano is a great accomplishment of which all Indians should be proud of. There are two good reasons.

(a) Innovation: It is a vehicle fully designed, developed and manufactured in India. The car with an engine of 643 cc and a mileage of 23 kmpl, offers the comfort and luxury of the best car of its type in the world. The car satisfies all safety and emission norms. Besides, the company will be able to manufacture and export many vehicles.

The secret behind the Nano's performance is rather a simple engineering solution. The firing angles for the two cylinders are exactly 180 degrees apart, with both the pistons reciprocating exactly in tandem with each other. The result is a very impressive torque fugure of 48 Nm available from 2500 to 4000 rpm.

Just have a look at some of these cute features:
* Top speed 105 kmph; 0-60 kmph in 9 seconds
* BS III compliant, BS IV ready. It has lower emissions than the best selling 100 cc bikes in the country
* Seats four
* Turning diameter 8.0 m, parking easy

(b) Affordability: Even the idea of $ 2000 car was once ridiculed. The team Tata have proved all the doubting Thomas wrong. The Indian middle class nuclear family was kept in mind. Notwithstanding the statements of some environmentalists, the car is likely to reduce the road congestion and be environmentally friendly in the long term, if we consider that one car will replace at least two scooters. Besides, congestion is not am issue in rural India.

Monday, March 23, 2009

Negative Vote Positive Message

The forthcoming 15th Indian parliament elections will star 714 million voters, 17 million of whom are in the age group 18-35 years. When we compare these figures with those of the 1st parliament elections, which had 176 million voters, it could be said that the things have got bigger; but have they got better ?

Over the years, single party governments have been replaced by the multi-party or coalition governments, both at the States and the Centre. The ideology has been replaced by the unprincipled opportunism. Today's coalition looks like a heterogeneous condominium of political parties, widely differing in ideologies, desperately sticking to power. This is revealed by the fact that in the last parliament there were 125 MPs, i.e. 25% of the House, facing criminal charges, including rape and murder. No wonder we see the officials and the local politicians following the footsteps of their bosses in power. What should a voter do if he finds all the candidates equally undesirable ?

As per the provisions of the rule 49-O, stated in the 'The Conduct of Elections Rules', 1961, a person can go to the polling booth, confirm his identity, get his finger marked and convey the presiding election officer that he does not want to vote anyone. Although the person’s right not to vote would be recognised in the total vote counting process, in no case would there be a re-poll. As of now, what rule 49-O will do is to register the person’s signature or thumbprint. This would also require the voter to reveal their identity, which goes against the system of secret ballot. Further, even if 49-O votes are more than the winning candidates’ votes, it would not negate the result. There is no judgment as yet on the implications of 49-O towards the upcoming elections and the barring of candidates from a re-poll.

There is a need to take a positive cognisance of the negative vote. This is an effective way to cleanse the politics. All nation-loving and the democracy-loving citizens and even the MPs should take a note and bring in the electoral reform to that effect

The new Election Commissioner V. S. Sampath, rightly advocated the elector's right not to vote. However that would have to be given shape through a legislation.

At present a person can write down on a piece of paper and give it to polling booth officials that he is not interested in voting. This violates the principle of secret voting. In order to provide this facility on EVM (Electronic Voting Machine), a separate law is required.

The legislation, if properly drafted, will mark a watershed in the electoral reforms. If the number of such negative votes is more than the votes polled by the individual candidates, the election may be canceled.

Monday, March 9, 2009


Masakkali ! Pigeons with clipped wings !! rightly describes the status of women in India.

In a country which boasts of female (nari) worship. Just take a look at the results of the survey reported by the Times of India

Majority of the women, working or housewives, do not decide how the money is to be spent or about the way of entertainment. The so called 'Lakshman Rekha' is drawn by the parents or the husbands (Dracula ?)

40% of the women surveyed accepted that the sexual harassment is common at the workplace.

Majority of them expressed that it is not safe travelling alone in the city, that they are discriminated, when it comes to pay and promotions

The average amount of wages earned by the women: Rs 29-37.7 per day, much below the statutory provision

Out of the total women married during 2005-06, 44.5% married before reaching the age of 18 years, quite against the law

The statistics is enough to reveal the status of women India

The celebration of Women's Day is all about restoring the honour of women in India.

Save India !!

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Sunday, March 8, 2009

Vote for India

The schedule of the parliamentary elections in India has been announced. I view vote as a means to strengthen democracy. I have a three point programme for all voters, especially young voters:

(1) Exercise Your Constitutional Right: All eligible citizens must register and vote.

The intelligentsia in India have a strange apathy towards elections in general and voting in particular. Those who do not vote have no moral right to criticise the Government.

(2) Vote for Secular Politics: Eliminate those who seek vote on account of caste, creed, language, region and religion.

The governance can be improved only by choosing right candidates through the democratic process.

(3) Make the right choice: Vote for those whose character is above the board and those who speak for development only
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Independent Professional: Experienced educator and management consultant for engineering educational institutions, researcher, trainer, technical consultant on sustainable technologies, related to cement manufacturing and characterisation, using industrial and agricultural wastes in cement and concrete, durability of concrete and fuel cell power.