Cerebral Shangrila

Friday, March 31, 2006

Aamir Khan -- Rips the Indian Media apart

The normally reticent Aamir Khan gives a rare interview to tehelka where he rightly blasts the mainstream Indian Media . Over the last few years, Indian media has become a circus by trying to glorify the trivial and ignoring the serious issues.

Thursday, March 30, 2006

Intel debuts PC design for Rural India

Intel believes that there is Fortune at the bottom of the Pyramid in India.

InformationWeek reports that, " Intel Corp. has launched what it describes as a PC platform specifically meant to meet the needs of rural communities in this country. This Intel-powered “community PC platform” can operate in a community setting, adjusting to varying environmental conditions in the country.

Intel has also announced its “Jagruti” (awakening) initiative meant to provide rural communities in the country with more economic and social opportunities by collaborating with leaders in business, government, education, online services and Internet service providers. The program supports the spread of rural internet kiosks based on the new Intel-powered Community PC. These kiosks will help accelerate access to the benefits of information and communications technologies (ICT) in villages across India.

The community PC platform was defined by Intel after studies in rural India showed a strong desire for technology access exists in remote rural communities. Unfortunately, weather conditions (heat, dust, humidity) and unreliable power sources can compromise conventional PCs used in such environments. The community PC was developed to be a fully functional, expandable and shared-access computing solution and be a reliable system that supports remote diagnostics and control features under low power requirements. Its unique features include a ruggedized chassis designed to withstand dusty conditions, varying temperatures and high humidity, with a removable dust filter and integrated air fan to regulate the temperature of the motherboard. The chassis is designed to keep the motherboard cool at temperatures as high as 45 degrees Celsius and the PC resistant to humidity levels of 70 to 85 RH (Relative Humidity). The total power consumption of all peripherals is less than 100 watts."

Wednesday, March 29, 2006

The Pope gets hep

Rediff reports that the Vatican Radio employees gifted Pope Benedict XVI a iPod Nano a few weeks ago. The Pope reportedly was happy with the gift and is said to have replied, "Computer technology is the future."

Btw, looks like Pope & I have a lot in common ( Perhaps the only thing in common !). Pope's iPod has been pre-loaded with music of Beethoven , Mozart, Chopin & Tchaikovsky ( Seems we both have a lot of common favorite composers ! ).

Tuesday, March 28, 2006

Walmart - Plans for India

The big boy is waiting for the FDI in retail to be relaxed further. However,its already started chalking out its plans.

Business Standard reports, " Wal-Mart, the world’s largest retailer, has chalked out the look and size of the stores it will open in India as it awaits laws allowing foreign direct investment in the country’s retail sector.

Speaking about its India strategy to Reuters, Wal-Mart Asia’s Chief Executive Officer Joe Hatfield said the company was interested in cities, both large and small. His strategy will be to make a big splash early on, opening 12-18 stores in the first 18 months, to show consumers that Wal-Mart was committed to India.The retailer has already applied for a liaison office in Bangalore to study the market, and recently hired a head of Asian strategy who will oversee expansion in India, among other things. Wal-Mart Vice-Chairman Mike Duke met Indian officials earlier in March, marking the retailer’s second round of high-level talks in less than a year.

Wal-Mart believes India, like China before it, will embrace Western retailers. The key is to show an understanding of local tastes, whether that means stocking popular spices, the right baked goods, or just the top-selling brand of soap."

Sunday, March 26, 2006

Here's looking at you , Steve

Here is to the crazy ones ....The ones who think that they can change the world are the ones who actually do -- So runs the cult Apple Ad of the 90's. Its amazing how much of that fits its legendary CEO, Steve Jobs.He is really a crazy guy by any standards. Put up for adoption as baby he knew his real parents only when he was in his 30's , dropped out of college , went on a spiritual tour to Varanasi(India) as a teenager , vegetarian, started Apple during his 20's , became a millionaire before he knew what money was, made mac a cultural icon and gave birth to the genesis of PC's, ousted out of his own company in 1985 , Started another co (Next) that failed , bought a small outfit (Pixar) which gave the world animation movies , Came back to Apple to launch the iMac's and the icon of today's generation - iPod.Today he is once again one of the most admired CEO's on the planet.

This man amazes me . He has been called different things by different people. But you just can't stop admiring his indomitable spirit.

I just finished reading the book , The second coming of Steve jobs , a critical no-nonsense account of his life and times from his ouster from Apple till his heroic return. As Apple's earlier slogan goes " Think Different" and thatz what Jobs is always good at and which is why Apple has always remained different from any of its competitors.

No wonder the No.1 company in BusinessWeek top 50 is Apple .

Saturday, March 25, 2006

Chaudavin Ka Chand - German Engineer's rendition

I love the song " Chaudavin ka Chand Ho" (From the 1960 movie of the same name). Mesmerizing voice of Mohd.Rafi, great lyrics by Shakeel Badayuni & melodious music by Ravi. Add to that the ethereal beauty of Waheeda Rehman on whom the song was picturized.

Found this Video on Google Video where a German engineer has rendered this song. Its a pretty good rendition for someone who knows little/no hindi . He even sings the music interludes ! Watch it if you have the bandwidth .

Friday, March 24, 2006

People who make a difference - Muslim peon fighting to save hindu temples

Nothing can beat passion. Which is why passionate people most likely succeed (albeit sometimes late). Outlook profiles this poor muslim peon who is fighting a lonely battle to save old Hindu temples in West Bengal,India.

My salute to him !

Wednesday, March 22, 2006

Heroes are mortal too

Another cricket match lost. Indian cricket fans are angry as usual and this evanaecence is the hallmark of any sport. All anger would be forgotten when we win the first one dayer. That is precisely the problem. we have all become too short-sighted and forget its just a game. No player plays with the intention of failing. Heroes are mortal too.

In an excellent article titled " Trashing Tendulkar isn't cricket" , Nirmal Shekar (The Hindu) writes about this phenomenon. Being a master of words , no one could have stated it more eloquently than him.

He writes , " The harsh reality of the capricious business of sport is this: every champion that has ever drawn breath, every champion as yet unborn, can be sure of one thing — some day, he will fail. The world of sport is yet to toast a truly invincible athlete.

But, then, in dealing with Tendulkar's failure — or any issue of this sort — it is very easy to find the answer we want; much, much more difficult to find the answer that matches the truth.Of course, as passionate followers of the game, we are entitled to our own opinions. If some of us believe that the great man may not deserve a place in the team if he continues to fail, that's fair enough. Nobody owns a place in the Indian cricket team — not even Tendulkar.

But what is not fair — and will never be — is to stoop down to the sort of mindless pettiness that triggered the Mumbai booing on Sunday.

Tuesday, March 21, 2006

Google Finance - Beta

Watch out for Google in the Financial News/Data Space. Google launched Google Finance today (as usual in the Beta format).

FT reports, "Google Finance offers similar features to its rivals – share quotes and charts, integrated financial news from its Google News service, discussion groups and the ability for investors to create personalised portfolios of their share holdings.It also introduces innovations. The interactive charts will map market data with news stories, so the effect of announcements can be tracked against the stock performance. The charts can also be dragged dynamically using a scroll bar through different time periods.

Users can find out information on a company by just typing in its name, rather than having to know its ticker symbol. Google has also adapted its search results page by showing the frequency of news about a company, with bar charts showing news volumes over time. Its Blog Search will add results for online commentary found in blogs."

Yahoo Finance holds a big lead globally over MSN Money in the sector.

Monday, March 20, 2006

Congrats Ram !

Congrats to my cousin Ram for getting an MBA admit at Purdue (US) !

Thursday, March 16, 2006

Jaya nominated for Nobel Prize

April 1 is still a few weeks away.

TOI reports that , " World Federation of Tamil Youth (WFTY) on Tuesday said it has nominated Tamil Nadu Chief Minister Jayalalithaa for the Nobel Peace Prize, 2006.The federation has nominated Jayalalithaa's name from India, Sharjah and the US, for her "dedicated efforts in ushering Peace, Performance, Progressiveness, Productivity, Partnership and Prosperity for the people of the state during the last five years," its president Dr Vijay G Prabhakar said.

"We would also be celebrating April 14, the Tamil New Year as 'Selvi J Jayalalithaa day' in 15 countries, highlighting the progress of Tamil Nadu under her leadership," he said.

Wednesday, March 15, 2006

Bombay Jayashree@Esplanade,Singapore

Carnatic music lovers in Singapore were treated to a wonderful performance by Bombay Jayashree last sunday. Aided by a great voice, Jayashree used her vivid imagination for raaga alapanas delighting the audience. Thodi & Reethigowla were sung beautifully. The short peices after RTP , were memorable too , in particular the Meera Bhajan "Hari Tum" .

Here is a list of the Songs Sung (from whatever I noted down):

1. Mayamalavagowlai raaga
2. Seethapathe ( Raagam : Khamas , Composer : Tyagaraja)
3. Janani Ninnuvina (Raagam : Reethigowla , Composer : Subbaraya Sastry)
4. Amba Neelayadakshi (Raagam : Neelambari, Composer : Muthuswamy Dikshitar)
5. Karthikeya Kangeya ( Raagam : Thodi , Composer : Papanasam Sivan)
6. Ranjani Niranjani ( Raagam : Ranjani , Composer : GNB)
7. Srilalithe Mampahi ( It sounded like Anandabhairavi to me ...Not sure about the raaga..it later became a ragamalika with Mohanam and few other raagas..any guesses ?)
8. Velane Sivabalane ( Raagam : Behag , Composer : Neela Ramamurthy)
9. Hari Tum ( Raagam : Darbari Kaanada , Composer : Meera)
10. Tillana ( Raagam : Desh , Composer : Lalgudi Jayaraman)
11. Pavamana Suthudu ( Raagam : Sowrashtram , Composer : Tyagaraja)

P.S : A matter of personal pride for me was that I was able to identify most of the raagas immediately in the first one minute of singing. Last 2 years of listening to carnatic music regularly has started paying dividends !

Spillover of Globalization ?

Is this a spillover of Globalization too ? How else can you explain Taipei Times reporting about India's run chase against England ?

Sunday, March 12, 2006

Jugalbandhi at Esplanade

Went yesterday to the Jugal bandhi between Pt. Vishwa Mohan Bhatt ( Hindustani - MohanaVeena) & Dr.Ramani ( Carnatic Flute) at Esplanade,Singapore. Pt.V.M.Bhatt is a pioneer of this unique instrument which sounded like a cross between Hawaiian Guitar and Sitar to me .

The concert began with a 30 minute Raag Ghavati piece (Hindustani Raaga) by V.M.Bhatt and his son. Dr.Ramani(flute) and Mannargudi Easwaran(Mridangam) followed it with a 30 minute recital of raaga Harikambodhi. After these two separate performances, the artistes got down together for the "true" Jugalbandhi. Dr.Ramani played the "Pantuvarali" raagam and V.M.Bhatt responded with its hindustani equivalent " Puriya Dhanasri". The improvisations done by Bhatt were amazing and the artistes concluded the concert with a sindhubhairavi piece ( Bhatt has a great voice too as he sang the Sindhubhairavi raaga for 5 mins).

The only disappointment in the concert was that the jugalbandhi (simulataneous playing) lasted only half of the concert. I see this as a trend in Singapore when even during the earlier fusion concert with Mandolin srinivas, he made an appearance only in the last one hour.Can they print the agenda before the concert so that the audience know about it ?

Saturday, March 11, 2006

Online Public Grievance system

Not sure how effective this is. The Dept of Administrative reforms & public grievances(Govt of India) has an online public grievance lodging and monitoring system.

One can lodge grievances online pertaining to 16 depts/orgs ( Which include Railways,Telecom,Posts,PSU Banks,CBSE,PWD etc) and also view the action status later.

The questions that come to my mind are : Does it work ? Is the information held confidential ? Do they take action against govt officials who abuse their position ? Can we extend this to a impartial "consumer forum" for redressal ?

Wish I knew the answers.

Thursday, March 09, 2006

Aussie PM - Tour with a difference

What to do foreign Prime Ministers/ Presidents visiting India, do ? After the usual political meetings in delhi, its either a trip to Bangalore / Hyderabad ( to visit a Infosys / Wipro , though Bush did a ISB this time) or CII/FICCI meet at Mumbai or of course see the ever beautiful Taj at Agra.

The aussies are different. Their love of sports shows through. The visiting Aussie PM, John Howard visited the MRF Pace foundation which highlighted his passion for cricket ( Well no comments about the Uranium issue yet ).

The Hindu reports , " Australian Prime Minister John Howard's visit to the MRF Pace Foundation on Wednesday afternoon highlighted his passion for cricket, his vibrant personality and his unmistakable sense of humour.

After a detailed look at the facilities — gymnasium, swimming pool and practice wickets — of the Foundation located in the Madras Christian College School premises, Mr. Howard remarked in a lighter vein that he viewed with ``mixed feelings and some trepidation" India's efforts to match the Australians in pace bowling. He quickly added that Australia would be equal to the task!

Mr. Howard dwelt on the common and binding love for the game in both countries, acknowledged the efforts of Australian pace legend Dennis Lillee at the Foundation and wished the Indian team "best of luck" in the Mohali Test against the Englishmen.He said he was at the United Nations in New York last year when England regained the Ashes. "President Pervez Musharraf told me then that Pakistan would avenge the Aussies when England toured Pakistan. He kept his word." Mr. Howard hoped India would defeat England. "If India too beats England it will do good for its relations with Pakistan,'' he said amidst laughter.

Wednesday, March 08, 2006

India rising on Good Morning America (ABC)

India continues to get more airtime on american primetime TV. Here is a 7 minute "India rising" (Click on the underlined words for the video) on Good Morning America (which is aired on ABC) . Thomas Friedman ( The forever India champion in the US ) & C.K.Prahalad get some airtime.

Its just a superficial look at the "India - the enigma" but at least enough to arise the curiosity of those americans ignorant about India.

Tuesday, March 07, 2006

Jessica Lall- Will Justice be served ?

Amidst unprecedented public outcry and national coverage by leading newspapers and magazines ( It was a cover story in The Week, Outlook ) , the Delhi police have lodged a fresh FIR and have promised to bring out the truth.

Will the truth come out this time ? It might well be a landmark trial in Indian Judiciary.

Monday, March 06, 2006

Bjorn Borg -- fame,money and mismanagement

He stood like a rock between John McEnroe and the Wimbledon titles in the late 70's (not to forget the epic 1980 final). The rock has melted now. Borg faced financial difficulties during most of the 90's and now comes the sad news that he is going to auction his wimbledon trophies to ensure "financial security".

Life is simple and yet so complex !

Saturday, March 04, 2006

Tamil Producers to sue Sun TV

This ghost keeps springing up every year and this time with some legal twist. According to Screen, the tamil producers council has decided to sue Sun TV for Rs.2000 crores , which they claim is a compensation for the losses incurred due to Sun's non-adherence of the guidelines.

Certain guidelines and restrictions were issued to the channels regarding use of film clips and trailors but the Sun TV Network refused to adhere to the guidelines and continued to misuse the telecast rights given to the Indian channels, by airing the clips in foreign countries and south east Asia, which resulted in losses in overseas collections. Because of this, the members of the council decided to sue the Sun Network.

Hereafter if any film other than those for which Sun TV bought the satellite rights is aired on the channel, then it will have to pay the council a daily compensation of Rs.50 lakh. This was the other demand from the council. The programme Thirai Vimarsanam (a film review programme) came in for criticism since it showed all the important scenes of the films along with a review and thereby killed the curiosity for the film. They claimed that the channel aired the clips in this programme without even acquiring the satellite rights and the programme as a whole caused immense losses to the producers.

With the Tamil Nadu elections just a few weeks away, this might restrict Sun TV's political mileage ( If they take this seriously) or it might be just another issue which has always died down after some noise. Its also the foster son becoming more powerful than the dad. Afterall, Sun TV started off by being heavily dependant on films ( They still are) and film based programmes. All was well then but not any more.

Thursday, March 02, 2006

Interview with Raghuram Rajan

NDTV's Walk the talk featured an excellent interview with Raghuram Rajan, the chief economist of IMF. Raghuram Rajan , an alumnus of IIT-Delhi,IIM-A, MIT is the youngest to be appointed to that coveted position.

He is also the co-author of Saving Capitalism from the Capitalists which is on my "To read" list.

Wednesday, March 01, 2006

Shravanabelagola - Spectacular Jain Festival

I was there at Shravanabelagola (Karnataka,India) just a few months ago to visit the giant Bahubali ( Lord Gomateeshwara) statue. It was an awesome sight !

The Mahamastakabhisheka is a spectacle that is held once in 12 years where special pujas and rituals are performed to the monolith statue. BBC has a wonderful audio Slideshow on the abhisheka which happened a few weeks ago.