Eating is an agricultural act - Wendell Berry

Saturday, September 27, 2008

if ludwig was peter pan

then the headline would read:
Peter Pan pans Pan IIT.

or maybe
pandemonium at pan iit

or maybe
pan iit pants off

or maybe
pan iit handles issues worse than panhandlers
(no offence meant to the panhandling community)

or maybe
i should just stop.

Friday, September 26, 2008

media wakes up...

the MSM has been heavily one-sided in their reporting over the entire terror episodes.

looks like that tide is turning.
was reading the TOI today morning and was keenly surprised at these articles.
framed? and shocked?

and went online and kafila has detailed analysis of this trend - which is a welcome reversal.

Thursday, September 25, 2008

LHC - large hadron collider or ...

... Lehman's Huge Cock-up

i am certain now.
it has to be linked.
the LHC's big bang experiment started on the 10th of Sept.
mega anxiety was created over the potential disastrous outcomes of this (at least on India TV and Star News).
some poor girl apparently committed suicide over this impending calamity.

within 4 days, the american financial system busts wide open.

and within 4 days of that, the LHC's big bang experiment has had a magnetic meltdown.

tell me these are not related and i shall stop blogging.

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

flushing disgrace

associated press reports that american medical institutions flush down the toilet over 250 million pounds of drugs down the toilet!!
for SI system inclined readers, thats over 10,000 Tons of drugs per year.
swell indeed.
no need to take an asprin, just have 2 glasses of water to take care of the infection...

how much of this is happening likewise here in india?
should be in the same region if not in multiples. most perhaps are going into waste dumping sites and eventually into the soil.

i have consistently been drinking water off the tap for the last few years.
may be such contaminations account for my large nose :-)

alternate media on the delhi encounter

blasts rocked delhi couple of weeks ago.
as again, the police/agencies go ballistic and run operations on prozac.

there is a major report on the encounter with militants in delhi which nails 2 'terrorists', 1 super-cop.
atif is killed and is purported to be the supermind behind all things evil.
the media goes ballistic and is totally reliant on nothing more than police feed.

here are 2 alternate commentaries:
countercurrents rips apart the initial attack.
The five youth living in the apartment submitted to the Delhi police their personal details, including permanent address, driving license details, address of the house they previously stayed in, all of which were found to be accurate.

Is it conceivable that the alleged kingpin behind the terrorist Indian Mujahideen outfit would have wanted to undergo a police verification- for whatever purpose- just a week after the Ahmedabad blasts and a month before the bombings in Delhi?

and the analysis at kafila is even more scathing (in assistance with imagery from hindustan times).
A number of disturbing questions about this ‘encounter’ are gradually beginning to make themselves known. I do not wish to repeat or reiterate them in this posting (though I feel that they need to be carefully thought about). I just want to share my doubts about particular thing that I can’t but help noticing while looking at the photograph. image is here. entire article is here.

there is a lot of narco-analysis and fluff like that...where is the evidence.
scary stuff.

Thursday, September 18, 2008

end of capitalism

after a thought provoking 'socialism redux' post, my further research (aka google search) shows that many thinkers on the blogosphere have espoused similar thoughts.

here are some samples (these are not examples of great economic writing, but just some samples)
American Capitalism has been offered as a solution around the world since the 1960s, but hasn’t gained much traction for one simple reason – it doesn’t work. It does not offer any solution for those market failures that arise on a regular basis. It certainly offers no hope for the largest market failure facing humanity today – that of Climate Change. We now see, through the nationalisation of Freddie Mac and Fannie Mae, an admission from the US Federal government that American Capitalism does not work. We ought not to celebrate too much just yet. The Keynesians came to the rescue in the 1930s and 1940s, but there is no parallel school of thought today. Perhaps necessity will generate it? Perhaps it is time for China, or India, to take the intellectual lead? full article here
the above view is about the failure of the capitalistic theory. which is certainly plausible, but i am not fully bought in.
the below view is about the failure of the practioners of capitalistic theory. this i have some sympathy for.
The recent request by US Treasury Secretary—and more importantly former Chairman and CEO of investment bank Goldman Sachs— Henry Paulson to bail out Fannie Mae and Freddy Mac with US taxpayer dollars is but another indication of this destructive and parasitic relationship between bankers, government and the economy.

That a private banker from a large Wall Street investment bank is also Secretary of the US Treasury is no coincidence. It is also no coincidence that once again, public monies from the US Treasury are being used to rescue private bankers and to indemnify their losses.

Receiving taxpayer dollars from the US Treasury for their private benefit is not new to Goldman Sachs. In 1990s, when the Mexican government defaulted on its bonds, investors at Goldman Sachs' stood to lose billions of dollars. They didn't.

Buried deep in the subsequent $40 billion US bailout of Mexico was a $4 billion payment to Goldman Sachs, gratis of the US Treasury indemnifying Goldman Sachs against any losses on their investment in Mexican bonds.

The fact that current US Treasury Secretary and former Goldman Sachs CEO Henry Paulson also recently used US funds to underwrite JP Morgan Chase's private buyout of investment bank Bear Stearns and is now proposing to do the same with Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac is to be expected. For investment bankers, using public money to privately profit is business as usual. full article is here.

the times of india seems to have followed the lead.
they have a lead story on 'USA to USSR' and the 'end of capitalism'.

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

socialism redux

the nehruvian economic theory drew inspiration from USSR's socialistic approach to economic development.
but there are certain 'twists'.
1. an economic advisory written by the leading industrialists of 1940s, the 'bombay plan' advising a socialist approach.
2. the first industry minister - SP Mukherjee - was the main architect of india's industrial policy.
SP Mukherjee later founded the party which became the BJP, the Jan Sangh. (incidentally a landmark intersection in mumbai near the museum, regal cinema and near the gateway of india is named after him).

ok. so where am i getting to. it is connected to what's burning down the markets.
since 1991, one of the things that the indian government is doing is disinvestment, i.e., selling their share of their companies.

state ownership - the core of socialism - has always been touted as critical screw-up.

so i ask, what is happening now with AIG and what just happened with Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac?

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

new mumbai word - vikasak

new word in the hinid/marathi lexicon.
very technical.
i read it off the ganpati pandals mega-marketing
none of my office colleagues (all locals) could figure.

विकासक - vikasak
means.... in "builder"

विकास - vikas - means development.
but this is really a bit too much i think...

in some dictionaries, it may also means GOD.

Thursday, September 11, 2008

the story of the month

totally astounding. the 'bestest' inspiring story of this month.
of azharuddin... written by harsh mander - who has been there and done that.
from the modern day killing fields of gujarat, the most 'stunningestly' super story.

read here.

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

the SIMI story

SIMI is the Students Islamic Movement of India.
the 'villain' behind all the heinous violence happening in India.
vilified and 'banned' by the central government from 2001 right after the 9/11.
the police are certain that they are behind the recent blasts in ahemdabad, jaipur and earlier ones in malegaon, mumbai, etc.

not hard to believe.
pretty clear that there are several madrassas and muslim outfits are outfitting islamic youth towards 'jihadist' activities.
we hear a lot that the ISI has infiltrated many covert cells into our country and is funding/training SIMI activists to lead the terror assaults.

may be this is something that needs a unprejudiced mind. very unlike ours. and look at the reality through unblinkered eyes.
tehleka has run a very indepth series on SIMI.
it is very good investigative writing. and it blows away the myth that the indian/state government(s) and mainstream media are trying to perpetuate.
here is a series of articles which are must-reads.
  1. Tarun Tejpal’s editorial
  2. Ajit Sahi’s investigative cover story (Brilliant and a must read)
  3. The witch hunt against Shahid Badr Falahi (ex-president of SIMI)
  4. The judge who stirred the hornet’s nest by over-turning the ban.
  5. Shahid Badr Falahi’s interview.
  6. Tehelka’s internal struggle to cover SIMI.
what is apparent (even in the much media-frenzied "aarushi" case) that our police and investigative agencies are woeful.
they can neither punish the guilty not safeguard the innocent.
we will struggle as a nation.

latest news - the Supreme Court has extended the ban on SIMI till October as the government has requested for additional time to file their affidavit.

Tuesday, September 09, 2008


purvi's comment got me thinking about this.
not a 'national poll', but a word coming out of the monster monsanto post.
erudite readers can figure the genesis.

sharing the best seeds within the local community through seed banks etc, has been a integral part of our farming practices.
i tend to think that the green revolution is one culprit in erasing such knowledge systems.

Saturday, September 06, 2008

monster monsanto

monsanto is a big agriculture company.
not just big, but gargantuan.
after enslaving the US farming community, they are targetting india's kisans.
Entitled A Second Green Revolution: Redefining the US-India Strategic Partnership in Agriculture, the report dismisses the need for research and says the need of the hour is to open up Indian agriculture to the private sector. To do so, changes in the existing regulatory framework can be effected with the aid of the US, which has considerable experience intervening in this field.
the first green revolution has left in its wake some heavy duty mess.
an organic farmer makes a great case here.

and india's political sector and private sector will willingly bend over backwards to accommodate their ambitions. the PM, CII, FICCI are all into the deal, but at least, the 'babus' seem to be suspicious.
Agriculture policy analysts were suspicious of the deal from its inception in 2006, during Prime Minister Manmohan Singh’s visit to the US......At the last meeting of the KIA, at which FICCI and CII were inducted on to the board, it became clear that private sector interests were expanding their influence.
this article quotes a Vanity Fair (VF) article.
found it, read it and was shocked at 'monstranto'.
it is super detailed, super interesting and super scary, but super impressed that VF runs such stories.

RTI gets a boost

shailesh gandhi has been has been selected for the post of the Central Information Commissioner.

he is just an awesomely determined dude.
he has been part of the revolution that is Right to Information (RTI).

this is his site with all the stuff that he has uncovered using RTI.

i have had the chance to spend time with him on 3-4 occasions and it has always been wonderful.
more power to him.

the ills of affluence

reading this article about the Nano stand-off at Singur left me bewildered.
there seems to be some casual reporting, but the behaviour of the protagonist.
Having surrendered his one-and-half acre farmland to the West Bengal government, 61-year-old Sushen Santra was banking heavily on the Nano project. His three sons—Subhas, Uttam and Bibhas—were beneficiaries of the project with two of them daily workers at the Tata factory. But the dharna and suspension of work by the Tatas shattered his world.
The resident of Pagepara in Joymolla neighbourhood put himself out of his misery by drinking a bottle of pesticide on Wednesday morning.
before the Nano-induced affluence, even the extreme poverty seemed manageable,
The family income had jumped from an average of Rs 45 per day from farming only to about Rs 300 per day
the irony is striking
...But the shutdown threatened that lifestyle, now bolstered with addons like a TV set....

Subhas recalled his father’s bewildered look after TV channels flashed that the Tatas threatened to relocate the plant from Singur on Tuesday night. “He heard the plant would remain closed till Durgapuja. He kept saying he doesn’t know how the family will survive more than a month without any work.
there is something called 'too-much information'.

Friday, September 05, 2008

vinakaya chaturthi (vc)

aka ganesh chaturthi aka ganpati is the second in series of the festival madness that sweeps mumbai (post krishan jayanti aka gokulashtami aka dahi handi) and continues onto ramzan (aka id), navratri (aka dandiya), deepavali (aka crackers), christmas, new year (aka binges parties).
4 months of 'trance music' and unmitigated noise pollution (among of course the regular types of pollution).

in my childhood, vc was an austere brahmin (redundancy intended) festival occassion, where early morning pure clay idol woul be procured, medium scale puja (with very yummy food) would happen. as vinayaka was a bachelor, it was auspicious that the puja be done by one (if available in the house). so i have done the vc puja many times (with my dad donning the priest role).
the next day, the idol would be removed and kept 'in the well', near a tree and will 'dissolve' into the earth (from where it came from).
fairly simple and non-elaborate.

post 1998, after coming to mumbai, i started seeing the mumbai style ganpati celebrations - which most know is a mega mega event.
for some reasons, this never appealed to my religious/spiritual senses.
i fully appreciate the 'social mobilisation concept that tilak started. master-class idea.

in the 'God ratings', vinayaka occupies the top ten slots in the marathi manoos demographic.
in most other demographics, vinayaka is in close contest with tons of others - parameshwar (aka shiva), vishnu (and his top 2 avtaars of rama and krishna), the vast army of devis (lakshmi, saraswati, durga, vaishno devi, the ammans of south india), karthikeya (aka murugan).

coming back to today's times.
my new residence is right next to one of the prime visarjan (immersion) spots.
i awaited this year's vc with some trepidation.
yesterday was the 'first day' visarjan and it was ok. read this first-timer's experience.

it is quite a stunning sight to see the number of people participating and the amount of money that flows into ganpati festival. the mandals falling over each other to outshine each other in, what i think is, the most creative marketing contests of the year. and each year lalbaugcha raja emerges tops.
i think it is a sheer waste. if only all this energy and resources could be diverted 'usefully' (need not be my definition).

Wednesday, September 03, 2008

hiranandani gardens scam

'builder' is a ubiquitous mumbai terminology.
it is uttered with a lot of contempt and fear.
these guys rule the city's roost.
they mow down opposition without any qualms.
'redevelopment' is the buzz word.

one of the 'respected' and 'polished' builders is hiranandani developers ltd.
their flagship township - hiranandani gardens is in powai, mumbai. some of my best friends live there.
and i have seen it at extreme close up for over 8 years now.

mumbai mirror has run a low/medium quality investigation on the major scam that is hiranandani gardens.
In 1986 the government and MMRDA signed an agreement with the original 19 land holders of these 230 acres saying that the land would be handed over to them to develop it on the condition that 50 per cent of the residential units built would admeasure 40 sq mts (approximately 430 sq ft) while the remaining 50 per cent of the residential units will extend to 80 sq mtrs, roughly 860 sq ft (see inside for more details). Out of the 230 acres thus available for development Niranjan Hiranandani, who was given the power of attorney by the original land owners, undertook to develop more than ninety per cent of the land.
the amount of construction i have seen over the 8 years has been stunning, including the demolition of a hill to build a park!
the flat owners and the resident societies are in arms against this constant state of construction in the area. their complaints has led to a 'environmental pollution report' by the government.

but the extensive report has led to what is at best a minor 'feathery rap on the knuckles'. a Rs 3 crore fine, which has been paid up.
the remaining 'punitive actions' will lie ensconced in judicial gordian knots.

Tuesday, September 02, 2008

farmer aspirations

regular readers of this blog would have noticed the coverage i have on farmers, agriculture issues.
there is a reason.
at some stage in life, i anticipate farming and living out of a village. this stage hopefully will commence within the next 2-3 years.

coming back to the present, there are some great examples of city farming aka terrace farming.
this is perfect for those who have terraces, which makes it impossible for over 90% of the city's apartment dwellers.
but the intrepid and innovative residents have designed their window protection 'iron grills' to serve as base stations for vegetation. solely intended to have some greenery around them, one wil notice pots of pots with a variety of shrubs.
so with the same available setting - the window grill - we decided to start the farming journey right here.
we already had the ubiquitous tulsi, and some other assortment of plants.
this weekend, we got more pots and seeds of 'french beans' and 'bhindi' aka 'okra'.
following the instructions, these are now planted and we are waiting like expectant parents.

simultaneously, we have created an 'aerobic' composting bin. almost all the kitchen waste is collected into this and over 6 weeks or so, we expect something useful that could be added to the soil.
this project is likely to get extended to another 10 pots.
so we think that once in 45 days, we could have a meal which has a significant portion of locally grown produce.