Sunday, January 29, 2006

Prosperity hazards (?)

I was going to include this topic in my previous post. But I thought, the issue is worth starting a new topic. It had occured to me when I read 'The World is Flat' and resurfaced when I watched Rang de Basanti.

In this movie, the British filmmaker Sou comes to India to film a documentary on the memoirs of her grandfather during the Raj. She comes to India, without any support, to film just a documentary. It is common for Westeners to devote their life to just a documentary or book or any research for that matter. Can you imagine an Indian travelling, say all the way to Africa, just for a documentary? There may be instances, but chances are very few.

So why is it that Indians are reluctant to divert from the tried and tested path of becoming engineers and doctors? Friedman mentions in 'The World is Flat' that the number of people in US, pesuing Engineering or science related field is diminishing. Youngsters in US prefer to do some off-beat stuff like film or something. As per Friedman this is going to cause the downfall of US, as it is the technology which drives the nation.

When a nation is developing, like India, most of the opportunities are available only for well-educated. The chances of making careers in any other field like films or say environmental research are less. So people tend to choose the well established path. But with prosperity, there are chances of making careers in other fields as the prosperity enables high income even for the lowest tiers of the society. This means one can work in the field of his or her choise, which in most of the cases is some 'soft' profession rather than the hardships of technolgical or any such job. But Friedman argues this precisely is the reason of outsourcing and small growth rates. How true is that? As India and China are developing they are producing large number of engineers as compared to US. But how long will it continue?

In the last decade, with the Globalization, even Indians are venturing different career paths like films, event management, etc. Previously, student with good percentage in tenth would definitely choose science. But the scenes have changed. Those with good marks also go to Arts and Commerce. The boundaries relating marks with streams are blurring. Can this we take as a positive sign showing the prosperity of India? Will it lead to stagnation of economy as Friedman argues? Something to ponder about.

Rang de Basanti and more

Everybody in India seems to write a blog about Rang de Basanti. It was the one of the most awited movies for a while. And it's good that it lived upto the expectations of the most ( at least for the first three quarters ). Unlike the last Amir movie, Mangal Pandey, which was one of the worst movies, this one is really worth watching.

The first half mostly portrays the life of the youth, which reminded me of the lifestyle in ' One night at call centre' by Chetan Bhagat. But the metamorphosis that they undergo is worth watching. It really inspiring. The end is somewhat exaggerated and it reduces the overall impact, as the story ends in a bit of fantasy. But a movie worth watching.

I think, producers did two smart things- one they released the movie on Thursday holiday and the second was the number of prints. Releasing the movie on Thursday meant, there was an extended weekend of four days. The number of prints released was staggering. There were 14 shows at Fame Kandivali, and around 8 to 12 shows each at all the other multiplexes. This meant that there was greater chance of getting tickets and more people watching the movie. In fact, my friend Swanand got current tickets at Jaya theatre, one of the better theatres in Borivli on Friday night. So before the reviews were out by Sunday, many people had already seen the movie. So the review effect was effectively nullified. I think by the time I return to college on Monday, most from the class must have already watched the movie. Highest weekend collection for a Hindi movie perhaps?

I am wondering if this doesn'r set an example for other movies. Rang de basanti is a good movie and worth watching. So the effect of reviews will be good. But consider an average movie employing the same strategy, i.e., creating much hype, releasing on Thursday holiday and large number of prints. So even if the movie is bad ( a typical Yash Chopra movie, for example), it will still be able to draw large audience ( obviously disgruntled) and gross large Box Office collection. Better be careful next time.

P.S. Don't you think, the title of this blog (Rang de Basanti), with small 'd' looks like some Dutch name? But let it be.

Friday, January 27, 2006

Finally it sparked!

Today we made a significant step forward in the project at BARC. At last, after meandering over different paths, we were able to produce a voltage of 8kV, enough to ignite a spark plug. After this we have to observe the effect of change in the shape of the pulses on spark plug. But still this was a crucial step. Hurray!

The project is completely hardware. So there have been lot of hiccups. Sometimes, it is very frustrating to do hardware stuff, especially during debugging. I mean, 'sirf ek tuti hui wire circuit ko hijda bana deti hai'. We have spent hours just to find out which path of the circuit is broken. But, at last, at least some of the circuit has been 'freezed' (as our project guide calls it).

Apart from the sudy-related aspects, what I am realising during my stint at BARC is that, I am not interested in doing complete hardware project in future and BARC is not a great place to work as it seems from outside. The second conclusion may be baffling for some, as BARC is considered a prime scientific institution in India. But I have my reasons. I found the overall atmosphere very gloomy and cheerless ( in fact, Gopal keeps on yawing at BARC. Now you can imagine). And it's like a typical government office more tp, less work ( I must exclude my project guide from that. He has been really helpful and always seems to be busy with his work).

That's what worries me. BARC is India's premier research institute. And, yet, there is little incentive for young people to come and do research in BARC. Even Gopal is not thinking about it. The main problem is that the researchers in Government institutes are paid less in India. But when I checked BARC site I found it to be true. There may be many perks, but still corpoartes offer must better payscale and better growth opportunities.

So to facilitate research in India, big companies should support research (IIRC, this was topic for the XAT essay this year). Some have already started it. Multinationals like Google, Microsoft, HP have already opened their research wings in Bangalore. Universities should also be included in the research like the foreign universities. India shouldn't be content with managing the backoffices of the multinationals, but also should provide the 'brain' for the. India has to move from 'BPO (business process outsourcing)' to 'KPO( knowledge process outsourcing)' to be Superpower of twenty-first century.

Tuesday, January 24, 2006

countries of origin

Watching football is always fun. But since I've started watching football, I've learned a lot about geographical, historical and cultural aspects of many countries, especially thanks to (Ameya and Amey) Kelkar. Here's what I learnt from the player's surnames and their countries.

  1. All Greek surnames generally end with -is or rarely with -ou. You also find it in Australia because of large number of Greeks in Melbourne, e.g. Philipousis, Lazaridis
  2. All the Mc's are scots. It means 'son of-'. e.g. McDonald means 'son of Donald'
  3. All the O's are Irish. It means 'decendent of-', e.g. O'Neil means 'decendent of Neil'
  4. The name ending with '-sson' is generally Swedish. e.g. Henderik Larsson, Sven Goran Eriksson
  5. Also name ending with '-sen' is generally Dane, e.g., Sorensen, Larsen
  6. Dutch names as everybody knows often contain 'van' or 'van der'. It denotes place of origin, e.g. van Nistelrooy means 'from Nistelrooy'. Another thing about Dutch is that vowels often appear in pair, e.g., Ruud, Roy Makaay
  7. If name contains '-ei', '-dt', '-eu','-sch' then it's generally German, or probably Austrian. And also names containing umlaut, which is transcripted in English with 'e' following vowel, e.g. Mueller, Schroeder.
  8. Russian names as many know are long and end with '-ov' or '-sky'. Also there are some which end with '-in'.e.g. Smertin ( ex-Chelsea), Haffkin Institute (the one in Mumbai. He is Russian and not British). Female names change from '-ov' to '-ova'
  9. If something ends with '-o' or '-nho' , he's Portugese. And there are all those D' surnames as well
  10. Spaniards, hmm... I don't know much. But remember pronouncing 'j' as 'h' as in 'Jose'.
  11. Italians: the ones ending with 'i'
  12. '-sky' are also Polish many times. It is especially true, if you are reading some American name. e.g. Tomas Radzinsky'. Poles also have '-cz' or '-sz' in their names
  13. '-enko'. mostly Ukrainian. Who can forget Shevchenko
  14. Coming to Asia, if name has three parts, each with at most two syllables he must be Korean. e.g. ManU's Park-Ji-Sung
  15. Chinese generally have two parts only in their names.
  16. Japanese have two parts, but fairly long compared to Chinese and generally contain '-aa' sound. ,e.g., Nakata( Bolton), Toshiba
  17. Moving west, Arab names are easy to identify.
  18. In Africa those in North have a muslim name in their name, e.g., El-Hadji-Diouf (Bolton), Mohammed Sissoko( Liv). Names which are difficult to pronounce, because of two consonents together are generally from southern part of continent.e.g. Ntini. People from former French colonies contain some Christian French name.e.g. Didier Drogdba
  19. If there is apostrophe between vowels, chances are that he's from some Polynasian islands like Tonga, Vainuatu, Samoa, Fiji, etc.

Oh,this list has become very long. I didn't expect it to stretch this much. Chalega. I wanted to enlist it some day. But enough for today. I hope you like it.

Monday, January 23, 2006

All about the flat world

I sometimes wonder, whether the New York Times columnist Thomas Friedman was born in India or China in last janam. He writes so pro-India anti-Bush. I got this suspition in his weekly columns in Indian Express ( This kinda stuff you won't find in ToI). And when I read his best-seller ' The World is Flat', my suspition has got stronger.

The book revolves around the metaphor 'flat', to represent the world without any barriers and connected by the Internet and other communication devices. The book is full of interesting examples which show the amount of research Friedman has done. Take this example about penetration of outsourcing .

Many companies and hospitals are outsourcing PowerPoint Presentations to India. Yes, you read it right. PPTs. How? Individuals who want to do PPTs, send a synopsis and other material to India. Indians make the PPT and return it to US. There is a company in Bangalore, which specialises in this. Such examples help reader to relate globalisation to his or her day-to-day life.

The book is well organised. It starts with brief overview of the reasons behind the globalisation, followed by its effect on the different entities, like Developed nations, Developing nations, companies, individuals. The topics are well defined and are substantiated with ample examples. In a nutshell, it covers everything a common man would want to know about globalisation.

The language of the book is straightforward and pragmatic, in fact sometimes tilting towards pungency. Friedman plays with the word 'flat' very skillfully, relating it to many things. For example, to relate to the privacy issues in todays world, he says
"In the flat world without any walls and hills it is very difficult to hide from anyone "
Throughout the book, he raves about India and China and becomes critical towards the American public and government. His writing style gives hope and encouragement to the developing world, at the same time warning the developed world to act quickly to prevent future decaying.

But sometimes the book swings too much towards the American or especially capitalist point of view, portraying globalisation and capitalism as the only panacea to the poverty all around the world. He becomes critical about Nehru in some instances for supporting USSR (Legacy of Cold War perhaps). He fails to understand that though the world has become flat for large chunk of Indians, there are millions of Indians who are not able to come on the level fields with the world. For more about such criticisms by some noted Indians, here are the links:

But overall a very good book to get acquainted with all the recent developments in the world. A must read if you want to be a global citizen.

Official site:

Thursday, January 19, 2006

do they work in England?

Nice to see ManU winning emphatically in FA cup against Burton Albion. A thumping victory, 5-0, was always on the cards. I read about it in BBC report on GPRS (wow, GPRS always comes handy when checking scores). But here's the web edition of the report:

The interesting story is not the ManU. You always expect them to win against a conference side ( for all those who don't know what conference is, it is the fifth tier in English football). The story, for me, is that around 11000 Burton Albion fans travelled all the way to Manchester just to see the match. I just searched Wikipedia to find more about Burton.
It says Burton has population of around 60,500. It is at a distance of 70 miles from Manchester (Google Earth zindabad!). So on a one fine evening, one fifth of city population travels 70 miles to watch just a football match. Can you imagine this in India?

Well the number of spectators for sports in England, or for that matter in any Western country always amazes me. How do people find time and money to go to the matches? Also, the enthusiasm and loyalty of the fans is really awesome. When will we see the same in India? Let's hope we see it sooner.

Wednesday, January 18, 2006

Life in big cities

Another sem starts. :-(
But it's last sem. So plenty to cheer about. Just five months left to escape from this hectic routine.

And it involves a lot of travelling. When you are in Mumbai or , for that matter any big city, one has to travel a lot. And that's what I find worst about them. Spending one eighth of your day in traveling can be considered miserable, especially considering the rush in the trains and buses.

Consider a normal day like today. I decide to travel by road to avoid rush in the trains. But the traffic on the way meant wasting too much time and reaching college late. What else can you expect when all the people in the suburbs are moving towards southwards? Government's solution to this mess is the improve the roads and trains. It is feasible to an extent. Widening roads helps to a certain extent ( I am not sure whether MMRDA is trying to to widen the roads or block them. On my way to college, which is around 18 km from my home, I encountered around 10 bottlenecks, created because of the digging and debris by MMRDA).

Enough of digression.

Coming back on the track, better trvelling facilities facilitate the quicker movement of people, thereby cutting down traveling time. But it doesn't hit the root of the problem. Why do we need moving of such a large number of people? Solutions to these questions may give the possible solution.
Small is beautiful.
That's what Schumacher says (well! he was an economist. I came to know abou him in an article with same title by Marathi author Anil Avachat. Before I read about him, Michael Schumacher was the only Schumacher I could have thought of. Here's wikipaedia link for him He may provide the answer. Mumbai is extemely big city grown well beyond possible administrable population ( To get a picture, consider this-- Mumbai has population well beyond 1 crore. Compare that with 40 lakh New Zealanders).

So we don't need big Mumbai. It must be devided in the small regions which are self sufficient. One need not to travel more than half an hour to his or her workplace. These smaller regions will also provide a sort of identity to individuals, which often gets lost in the big cities.

These views might prove wrong in the age of Internet, which may make traveling redundant. No doubt, big things are necessary and they mark the human progress. But they shouldn't complicate the inherent simplicity of human life.

Mumbai has to evolve into better city. But I am not that much sure, if that will be the case.

Sunday, January 15, 2006

The begining

At last, I have started writing something. I decided to start a blog a month back, but ...(to be frank I don't have any reason to make excuse). So let's hope I write something worthwhile and people find it interesing enough to comment on it.

There shouldn't be any problem finding topics; there are many topics which concern me and motivate me to write ( or at least that is what I have in mind right now). I like to discuss about, languages, football (epl especially), cricket, books , harry potter, politics and many more. I joined groups on google. I found them interesting, but intimidating (because of many experts involved) sometimes. So my good friend Kaushal told me to start a blog. He told me it's better than group. So thanks Kaushal for inspiration.

Enough for first message. Nothing significant written so far. But something is better than nothing. At least, I can now say, I also have started blogging!