Tuesday, November 27, 2007

India shining? Not reallly

This link here shows clearly that India is not shining.

Tuesday, August 14, 2007

It also happens in US

My first hand experience of crime in US - my brand new Honda 200RX bike got stolen from the parking spot outside my apartment in broad daylight. It was there, early morning, as I set out for office. It was gone late evening, by the time I returned.

Whoever said that it happens only in India? It happens in US too [:P]

Sunday, August 5, 2007

Cry babies :-)

Recently Michael Atherton has called for Sreesanth to be banned for a test. No doubt, beamers are reprehensible, and Sreesanth's behavior was intolerable. But, I dont recall Atherton ever making such a hue and a cry over beamers bowled by other bowlers from, say, England.

And, its not as if bowlers from England never ever bowl beamers. One can easily recall Darren Gough's beamer which actually hit Ambrose. And yeah, Atherton was actually playing in that match. If he didnt ask for Gough being banned, why does he cry for Sreesanth's head?

Another instance of a beamer was from Caddick to Yousuf Youhana in a ODI, and incidentally Atherton was playing in that game as well. Why didnt he ask for Caddick being banned then?

Indians, too, have been at the receiving end of beamers. But, nobody raised a hue and cry when Walsh's beamer broke Prabhakar's nose. Dhoni too has been at the recieving end of a beamer from Shoaib Akhtar, and in that case, there wasnt even an apology from the bowler.

Seems to me that the cry baby nature of the England entourage is emerging now. And it feels bad to see Mike Atherton, who, by all accounts, was a warrior with a heart for battle, resorting to such cribs. Having lost the test comprehensively, and been involved in the stupid jelly beans issue, they need excuses. And talking of jellybeans, Ian Chappell, in a coulmn in cricinfo, has actually gone to the extent of comparing it with pitch tampering. No prizes for guessing what Atherton's take on this is going to be.

Monday, July 16, 2007

Monkey Business

Amongst other things, you can also lodge an FIR against a monkey. yay!! 'tis called justice.

Saturday, June 23, 2007

third personitis

Seems the cricket world has caught on the trend of thrid personitis from The Rock (WWE superstar wrestler). Here's a sample quote from The Rock:

"The Rock says, know your damn role"

A sample quote from Paul Collingwood (the new England ODI skipper):
"Hopefully this role will bring out the best in Paul Collingwood".

Saturday, June 16, 2007

Pros and warm up? kabhi nahi :P

Professionals, we are told, dont need to warm up. Here is an excerpt from Harsha Bhogle's column in Indian Express.

"India's captain has asked for three games before the first Test in Australia, a perfectly valid request since India have always struggled with the bounce when they go there after having played in our conditions just before. Instead, the captain has been told by the secretary that, being professionals, they should be able to adjust with the one they have been provided.
I am flabbergasted. If I was Rahul Dravid I would have bowed and said "excuse me sir, I play for India. Whose side are you on?" I suspect Dravid is trying harder to win in Australia than the secretary!"

Monday, June 11, 2007

The Ford which didnt start

BCCI has been shambolic and thoroughly unprofessional in their search for team India court. Its high time that these bunch of jesters (read BCCI officials) had their bottoms whacked black and blue. Am glad Graham Ford did that. After a 2 month search, BCCI ended up inviting Ford, knowing fully well that he hadnt even bothered to send his resume on its own, and that he had an existing contract that runs for another year. Ford came, saw, and rejected the BCCI offer.

The board had already reduced the selection process to a farce by eliminating Dav Whatmore from the race, for reasons only best known to them; Now the logical step should be to appoint the other contender, John Emburey as the caoch. But I have a feeling (as do many), that Emburey was just an eyewash, and Ford had been the selected man all along. Emburey's coaching credential seem embarassing to say the least. It would be interesting to see whether BCCI appoints him, or learns a few lessons, and start a professional search for the coach afresh.

Gawd!! No wonder Indian politics resembles as trash can standard pantomime. The average politicians being probably worse than our esteemed BCCI chief, what else do we expect. Pawar's doing great as the BCCI head. The best BCCI chief in history of Indian cricket. I cant helping Jagmohan Dalmiya falling off his chair in a fit of laughter at this farce. Indian cricket needs a shrewd and professional administrator like Dalmiya, more than Dalmiya needs to be the BCCI chief.

Wednesday, May 16, 2007

train and the ambassador car

Q. What is the similarity between a train and an ambassador car?
A. Both can be push started.

Read The Telegraph's report on how a train was push started by passengers. It happens only in India I guess :)

Sunday, May 13, 2007

the coatminders

An interesting quote by Bill O'Rielly the former Aussie leg spinner at cricinfo -

"You remember when two kids would toss a coin in the park," he'd start off, "and then they proceeded to take turns in choosing another ten guys. Well there were always a few blokes left over," he'd continue, "and they were the coat minders." With a chuckle he'd add, "And the coat minders go on to become members of the Australian Cricket Board."

Tuesday, April 24, 2007

Sunny speak

Gavaskar's take on offering Greg Chappell e National Cricket academy (taken from cricinfo):

"It's never easy sacking somebody, however incapable and inefficient he/she may be ...but to give another job and that too one which deals with the future of Indian cricket after the mess the present of Indian cricket has been landed into, makes one wonder if we will ever get out of the inferior complex syndrome."

Friday, April 20, 2007

Farewell, king of the Caribbean

Saturday will be a special day. It will be a day for farewells. Duncan Fletcher, England's strong and resolute coach will step down. Brian Lara, the priceless gem of Caribbean, will play his last match. The Bajans will be in Kensington Oval in full force. The Caribbean carnival feeling will be in the air.

Whatever happens, I hope Lara does well. With West Indies out of the world cup, and the fans calmouring for his head (due to some admittedly "strange" captaincy) he resembles a king without a kingdom. One hopes that he wont do a Don Bradman and be dismissed for a duck in his last international innings. If there has been one batsman who has carried the entire team on his shoulders in the recent decade, it has been Lara. Andy Flower comes a close second though. However, in terms of a pure exhibition of joyous batting and entertainment, Lara remains unmatched.

Thanks for the memories, Brian Lara. Hope you have one last hurrah, and score a one day double century tomrrow to tread where no foot has ever trod before. That would be the most fitting finale for the king of Caribbean islands.

Sunday, April 8, 2007

Family fueds

A sorry episode in the Arun Nayar - Liz Hurley episode, with Nayar's father disowning him.

Reservations looms its head yet again

Yet another example of the pig headednessof the the current Indian government. They put a stay order on announcement of results of IIMs, leaving lakhs of students writhing in tension. High time we asked ourselves whether we wanted a government insensitive to the actual needs and one which announces superficial measures in order to win over certain sections of the society and divide the country so as to stay in power. Wish they get the boot in the next elections.

BCCI backlash

Sambit Bal has a nice analysis of BCCI's recent decisions following the world cup debacle over here in cricinfo.

The pros -

  • Appointment of specialized coaches: Venkatesh Prasad for bowling and Robin Singh for fielding. The later is especially crucial
  • Restructuring of the domestic game (if that is, they stick to this commitment, which going by their past record is doubtful

The cons -

  • While the senior players were dumped with most of the blame,Chappell was almost fully exonerated. Apparently, the BCCI top brass were bowled over by his audio-visual presentation. Reports suggest they didnt even have any questions. Strange, considering the depths to which the team plunged under Chappell
  • While no one really excuses the players, they at least deserved a patient hearing. They didnt get it. The BCCI here, has been slyly opportunistic, cutting down on players' endorsements and, in the guise of punishing players, ensuring that their coffers keep swelling and their sponsors' interest are protected. This makes you hope the concept of Indian Cricket lEague takes off and BCCI falls irreparably from the pedestal to which Dalmiya took it. A board run by politicians so irreprehensibly deserves no better.

I yet reserve my opinion on retention of Dravid as captain (maybe this isnt so bad) and getting Shastri as the cricket manager. Shastri is certainly a good communicator, has tremendous knowledge of the game and has a shrewd cricketing brain. His appointment would be a success if he handles all the players tactfully.

Monday, April 2, 2007

senile, purely senile

The undisputed "Mr Big Mouth" of Indian cricket speaks again. He says that no Indian is fit to be the coach of the Indian team and that Greg Chappell, despite his lack of success should be retained.

Just to highlight this man's poor memory, he goes on to say that India had good success under John Wright because they played against weaker teams. Maybe he forgets that the World Cup in 2003 had the same teams as this one; maybe he forgets India toured Australia and almost pushed them over the limits under Wright as opposed to the whitewash Chappell's team faced in South Africa (a good team no doubt, but still second to Steve Waugh's indomitable Aussies).

The styles adopted by Wright and Chappell, at least to outsiders, are distinct. Wright coached the team and tried to get the out of form players back in form. Chappell chopped and changed. Wright maintained a low key approach, always putting the team first. Chappell on the other hand seemed always keen to hog the limelight and nurse his (inflated?) ego over and above everything else. Definitely, he lacked the sensitivity and tact of John Wright. All said and done, Wright was the perfect foil and coach for a high profile cricket team. Chappell, despite being a great player, stands deep in shadows of Wright so far as coaching is concerned.

However, what one should take from the Chappell era is the fact that he at least had the guts to take a few tough decisions. The decision to drop Ganguly was perhaps the best example (although the shameful manner in which this was done definitely left a bad taste).

Like all individuals Mr Dungarpur has the right to vent his opinion. And like all individuals we have the right to have a good laugh at them.

Sunday, April 1, 2007

Bhogle speaks

A superb piece from Harsha Bhogle on the ills confronting Indian cricket.
He ends with "..names wont matter, the issues wont go away". I only hope that some of the "names" read Harsha's article and take it to heart.

Friday, March 30, 2007

Indian cricket lacks ruthlesness

In wake of Ian Chappell's comments that Tendulkar should retire, came replies from Ashok Mankad and Ajit Wadekar that Tendulkar still has a few years left in him.

When a Aussie cricketer reaches the same stage as Tendulkar has at this moment, he is dumped summarily, irrespective of his star status. If he has a few years leftin him (take the case of Hayden, who few months back was dropped), he is supposed to bludgeon his way up the ranks through the state level matches.

May be Wadekar and Mankad are right. If they are, then Sachin even after being dropped should be able to bat his way through the Indian first class scene, the way Ganguly did. But alas, given his superstar, almost demi-god like stature in the country, such a move is hardly bound to happen, and the team will continue to carry an out of form (albeit genius) player for some more time at least. One can only hope he finds form soon, for the selectors wouldnt have the guts to drop him, whatever he does on field.

On the OBC quota

Thank goodness, that even while the government goes bersek, there is still a body called judiciary which keeps its feet planted on the ground and doesnt hesitate in calling a spade a spade. At least, the quota debacle has been avoided for this year.

Without going into a debate as to whether introducing an OBC quota is justified or not (socially), here is a short list of where the government bungled -

  • The government doesnt have any authentic figure on percentage of OBC population
  • The figures upon which they based their decisions came from 1931. If it isnt height of stupidity to assume that demographics remain constant, then what is?
  • Even these figures arise from Mandal comission report, whose correctness is a BIG question
  • Even assuming 27% to be a good figure, the institutes didnt have the infrastructure to cope with the seat hike. Premier institutes like IITs face a 15-20% faculty shortfall already. A 27% seat hike on top of this would have been disastrous

Chappell sense

Ian Chappell talks sense and feels its time for Sachin to hang his boots. Sad indeed that it has come to it. But, it really does seem that Ian Chappell has hit the nail on the head. Hopefully the little master will get a chance to shine again and then hang up his boots while on top.

Wednesday, March 28, 2007

a leaf out of Hayden's book

Team India might do well to hear Matthew Hayden's word after the West Indies Austrailia match. To quote him:

"I've had to show a lot of commitment and passion, first to get back into the one-day side - and in particular, to represent Australia at the World Cup."

Commitment and passion were the two ingredients the Indian team lacked, and they paid for it. If a player of Hayden's stature can talk this sort of talk and back it up, it makes you wonder how much lesser stars in the Indian team are able to take their positions in the side for granted! But then, it is India we are talking of arent we? Here, in cricket money (endorsements) matters more than anything else.

Friday, March 23, 2007

Cup of woe?

Thats it. India's world cup campaign is all but over. Barring a miraculous Bangladesh-Bermuda game, India is out of the world cup. Sad isnt it? But, thankfully the billions can get on with their day to day jobs without wasting their time watching cricket.

Monday, March 19, 2007

Cherish this moment ...

Aaaahh!! Cherish this moment while it lasts! As of today (19th March 2k7) Bangladesh poses a serious threat to India's chances of qualifying for super eights. Kenya and Ireland do one better and are placed second in their groups. Ireland in fact was momentarily the group leaders (till the Windies defeated Zimbabwe).

Michael Holding and Ricky Ponting had indulged in minnow bashing before the world cup started. So did I. I dont know about the other two, but I, personally, retract my comments; The minnows are the underdogs; and as Bangladesh and Ireland showed us, every dog, even underdog, has its day.

All hail the glorious uncertainities of cricket. :-)

Saturday, March 17, 2007

The day of the underdog

Cricket is a game of glorious uncertainities. And this fact shone through brightly on St Patrick's day with the two underdogs, Bangladesh and Ireland putting up courageous performances to upstage India and Pakistan.

This means India treads in troubled waters; they just have to beat Sri Lanka and Bermuda to progress. Pakistan is knocked out. Sad, for these two teams have some of the most exciting cricketers in world cricket. But the events on the cricket pitch drove home the point that talent alone wont take you the distance. Application will.

Leaving aside the murky reminiscences, lets toast the glorious uncertainities of the game and congratulate the worthy winners, Bangladesh and Ireland.

Sehwag "The New Wall"

The way Dravid has backed Sehwag, it appears as if Sehwag is the "new wall" of Indian cricket. Infallible (from the team that is; not performances) due to Dravid's support.
Yet again, he failed against Bangladesh. Considering the relatively weak nature of opponent, India can afford to (?) try out one of the out of form players (Viru and Pathan). Irfan Pathan showed signs of coming back to form in the practice match against Windies, although he was lucky to garner three wickets. But Dravid and co chose to have Pathan on the sidelines and play Sehwag instead. Once again, the wrong horse was backed!!

Really strange considering the flexibility Pathan brings to the side with his allround skills.

Its about time Rahul Dravid gives up his fascination for Sehwag. Ture, if you give him 20 chances, he is likely to hustle up a smart fifty (no doubts on Viru's talent; its just that his form is questionable). But, its likely that on other 19 occasions, team India would rue missing out a solid 30 from an opener.

Wednesday, March 14, 2007

quotable quotes :-)

World Cup special!! Direct lifts from cricinfo:

"I don't believe I coach cricketers, I coach people in cricket uniforms."The erudite Mike Young, Australia's fielding coach, reminds us of his coaching role. Coaching people in cricket uniforms, not cricketers.

"He loves India. He has named his child India. His biggest player is actually Tendulkar. Right now I'm hoping Tendulkar does not hit a catch to him because he will probably drop it to watch him bat."Irvine Romaine on team-mate Lionel Cann who is just a bit overawed by being at the World Cup

"Watching cricket is one of the best ways of avoiding working known to man."A study by the Centre for Economics and Business Research (CEBR) has warned that the British economy could lose 270 million pounds over the next two months, due to World Cup absenteeism.

Tuesday, March 13, 2007

Indian GenNext's views on marriage.

An interesting survey published in The Telegraph...

The key features include -

  • Marriage and kids should be in the thirties
  • "C'mon. Marriage aint my life. There's more to life." attitude emerges in a big way (though thats still not the majority view (abt 53% against to 47% for. Interestingly, the global figure is 61 vis-a-vis 39). Indians getting more career oriented than the rest?
  • 87% say marriage is for life.

... the way Indian played their cricket.

Ricky Ponting, the Aussie captain has some strong words for Sunny Gavaskar. He also derides India's lack of success in recent times. For the record, Aussies lost 6 out of their last 7 games. India won 6 out their last 7 games.

Ponting also conviniently forgets his own performance against India. He is definitely a tiger at home, in the Aussie grounds. But he came to India and scored 20 runs!! (in 3 tests :P )

Personally, whoever wins the cup, I would love to see the Aussies lose; just because of their arrogance if nothing else.

Monday, March 12, 2007

IIT bashing yet again!

There are some things in India which is considered fashionable. One of them is bashing the "brand IIT". While some of the criticism is definitely warranted, a chunk of it is, well, just "fashionable".

Here is a piece by BV Shenoy. The article criticizes the IIT JEE system. It is really a well written article for most part, and all the arguments have been put rather nicely (although there maybe some factual errors). Except for the last paragraph. So you want to put emphasis on board exams? You trust them, do you? Well, before going any further please take a couple of minutes to read this too and spare a thought for the students who suffer this way. This link is a report on answer scripts getting "lost" and then "found" on a local train. The article also reports that this isnt a one off incident.

When we appeared in class XII exams, a chunk of roll numbers had 78 in math. A nice continuous chunk. With students amongst that chunk having rather varied expectations too; even if you were to look at the mock exam marks there was huge diversity in the chunk (the students by the way, can look at the graded mock test answer scripts). Fishy? But still, there are so many who would rather trust this than the JEE.

By all means, with a preponderance of coaching centers, the IIT JEE cant be truly considered fair. But take a moment and think whether the alternatives proposed, like the board exams are fair.

I have a couple of questions for the proponents of using board exams etc as "performance indicators", and hence maybe as possible alternatives to the JEE.

1. While you keep harping that coaching institutes play a key role in JEE, do you intend to say that no private coaching goes on for board exams? Even if you were to leave aside the coaching institute stuff, do you intend to say that students studying in a top notch metro school, and those studying in a mofussil school are on a level playing field? If they arent, how come the board exams will be a better indicator.

2. A lot is made out of the corelations between board exams and college performance and the (lack of) corelation between JEE scores and college performance. Anybody has an idea of the corelations between board exams and other tough exams (eg, ISC math score vis-a-vis math olympiad results) and the correlations between JEE and other tough exams (eg, JEE math score vis-a-vis math olympiad scores)?

In a lighter vein, I do see a very strong correlation between college performances and board exams, while I dont see any between college performance and the JEE: In the board exams they ask questions like "State Newton's laws of motion"; nothing focuses on applications of the Newton's laws in tricky situations. In the undergrad courses, they ask questions like "Define structure factor"; no questions asked on actually calculating the structure factor of even slightly complex crystal structures. JEE however, wouldnt ever ask "State Newton's laws and stop there". There you have to demonstrate, while solving the problems, that you have understood the laws fairly well and can apply them. No wonder that the rote learners of board exams have a field day after entering college!! See, I told you; there's a very strong correlation indeed.

All is not well with the IIT JEE. Agreed. But the behemoth survives due to lack of proper alternatives. The crappy stuff which passes in the name of board exams are not, I repeat, ARE NOT an alternative for the JEE.

Disclaimer: I did not clear the IIT JEE. Like 98% others (as well as a fair chunk who didnt have access to methodical coaching like FIITJEE classroom coaching etc), I flopped as well. So please dont think I am defending a system that suited me.

Sunday, March 11, 2007

Cup of Life, or Cup of woe?

Tony Cozier's article at the cricinfo website makes for interesting reading. Starting from hotel fires to underprepared pitches and "work in progress" at the match venues, along with dissenting feelings of players and officials thrown in, it appears that this edition of the World Cup is doomed to failure right from the beginning.

However, I have a sneaking feeling that this world cup will actually turn out to be a grand success for cricket and the goof ups will be effectively consigned to the dustbin. Much of this feeling has to do with the jolly good natured approach to life adopted by the denizens of Caribbean Islands. Here's hoping the Windies do well in the World Cup ... and the Indian team lifts the trophy :-)

Friday, March 9, 2007

What does feminism mean?

Here is an interview of Gloria Steinem in rediff. According to her, a feminist is one who can be a woman or a man, who believes in the full social, economic, political equality of women and men"

Richie rich

Forbes has published its list of rich guys of this world.

  • 4 Indians make it to the 50 richest men - LN Mittal at #5, Mukesh Ambani at #14, Anil Ambani at #18 and Azim Premji at #21. (none of them, by the way, fully self-made, although Mittal and Premji can make some claims in that direction). Thats a lot, considering that the average Indian's income as such is pretty low.
  • This highlights two things - Indians can make money staying in India if they work hard enough. Also, when one looks at the general poverty in the country this accentuates the huge disparities that exist between the "haves" and the "have nots" in India.
  • 6 of the 10 richest, 12 of the 20 richest and 29 of the 50 richest men/women are self-made billionaires
  • Of the women billionaires in the top 50, I couldnt find a single "self-made" billionaire (hmm... need to check this statement again though).

Some semblence of sense. At last!

Here is a an account of the supreme court dealings on the issue of reservations. Finally, do we see some light at the end of the tunnel, which in the first place, was a creation of a certain pig-headed minister with little more vision than the number of votes garnered in the votebank.

Strangely, now he is starting to sing a slightly different tune.

I intend to put in a short discussion on the merits and demerits of the reservation systems (as enforced in India).

Tuesday, March 6, 2007

McGrath the batsman

This article by Tim de Lisle on McGrath the ODI batsman makes for great reading :-)

Saturday, March 3, 2007

nanopolitan's analysis: R&D funding

Prof. Abinandanan presents a nice incisive analysis of science R&D funding in India (wrt the present budget) in his blog ...

Holi cows

The Telegraph's report on holi cows of India ...
Isnt it great while all the average Indian will be working his ass off on Monday, the representatives of the average Indian will be enjoying holidays? Now, really this isnt much of an issue though. No work gets done in the Parliamentary sessions anyway with all the uncivilized yellings and quarellings; and when they do manage to stop bickering, all our politicians manage to do is to come up with messages for team India, like this one.

Thursday, March 1, 2007

A valuable tip for team India

Lok Sabha speaker, Mr Somnath Chatterjee, has an excellent tip for Rahul Dravid and his men in blue over here :-)

Budget 2007-08

So the budget has finally been presented. The govt tom toms it as a success, and the opposition decries it as a failure - now thats all expected.
According to the govt, budget highlights its focus on education. Sushma Swaraj thinks otherwise and shreds apart the claim;

The TOI quotes her as:
"The Finance Minister says Rs 10,671 crore would be provided for the Sarv Shiksha Abhiyan. Well, the two per cent cess on education has fetched the government Rs 10,393 crore. Similarly, they have allocated Rs 6,483 crore for higher education. And the extra one per cent cess will get them about Rs 5,200 crore. If the taxpayer is paying for the education, what is the government giving?" she asks, appalled that the UPA government is saying that education is the highlight of its Budget. "Where is the allocation from the Budget?"

Another quotable quote from her: "The housewife wanted a reduction in her ration bill. But in fact, only those who feed their pets imported dog food will see a cut in their ration bill. It's so strange that man's food has become expensive and dog food cheaper."

And a quotable quip from TOI too :-)
"Trust the seasoned politician to aim where it matters. The middle-class stomach."

Tuesday, February 27, 2007

Farmland vs Industry

Here is a report in the Telegraph, titled "Seal on CM farm theory". It goes on to state that while the national economy is growing at 9%, industrial growth rate has just reached double digit at 10%. The share of agriculture to GDP has declined to around 18.4% while that of industry and services have increased to 26.5% and 55.1% respectively.

To quote the article "Bhattacharjee has already read the situation and believes that Bengal — which he reckons is in a transition phase — needs to slowly shift from agriculture to industry (see interview in Bengal Unbound)."

I just wonder whether this form of economics considers that food is a primary necessity for human existence. Respected CM, supporting industries in Bengal is a welcome move; stamping out agriculture is not.

To be perfectly honest, the numbers quoted in the article really dont mean anything unless somebody also comes up with stats for the %age of population engaged in agriculture, services and industry, as well as the absolute requirements from agriculture (this is the minimum level one has to ensure; a fall from this level of agricultural production is a potential minefield for a relatively poor country like India).

Thursday, February 22, 2007

The best bowler in death

S. Rajesh presents some compelling stats on bowling at the death. As he says, one look at the stats and one knows where Rana Naved ul Hasan should bowl for Pakistan. Worth having in the team even if to bowl only 5 overs out of the last 10 and nothing else.

He also shows up Chaminda Vaas to be an ideal bowler at the start of an innings. Tom Moody, what are you thinking? Amazing things, these stats! :-)

Wednesday, February 21, 2007

... and Bermuda's captain replies

Here is what a former Bermuda captain thought about Michael Holding's comments.

Tuesday, February 20, 2007

Free E-Books

Here is a page with a few links to a number of free e-books, largely pertaining to mechanics and materials science.

IUCr teaching pamphlets

A series of pamphlets on x-ray diffraction and crystallography can be found here at the IUCr website over here.

"... diplomacy is war by other means ..."

K.P. Nayar writes in an interesting editorial for The Telegraph that "Carl von Clausewitz, wrote that “war is nothing more than the continuation of politics by other means”. For Pervez Musharraf, diplomacy is nothing more than the continuation of war by other means. As the United Progressive Alliance government slowly but surely blunders into an illusory peace deal with Pakistan, Musharraf is trying to achieve through niceties what he could not get through bullying in Agra in 2001."

The part on Siachen is especially alarming:

"The Manmohan Singh government would have already finalized a settlement of the Siachen dispute with Pakistan if the army and the air force had not taken the rare step late last year of expressing themselves firmly but clearly against bartering away India’s strategic advantage on the glacier for the cosmetic advantage of ticking one item off the list of bilateral disputes between New Delhi and Islamabad."

Yet another drop in the ocean of blunders by the Congress govts.

Old order changeth?

That seems to be the question on every cricket fan's mind with the Aussies losing 5 games on the trot now. Adam Gilchrist says there is too much of cricket and the Aussies didnt want to play Kiwis. While the issue of fatigue cant really be disregarded, it does appear that the famous Aussie assembly line is starting to crack, and is no longer churning out top notch replacements for the superstars like Gilchrist, Ponting or McGrath.

Michael Holding, on the other hand criticises the ICC for including too many minnows and dragging on the world cup for 2 months. I, for one, agree fully with him. At cricket's showpiece we need a short but memorable burst of high quality competitive games and not a long drawn mediocre set of contests interspersed with some quality cricket.

Each group has 2 minnows and 2 of the stronger sides. Thus, of the 6 matches played in the group, only 2 are supposed to be competitive, namely the ones between the 2 strong sides and the ones between the 2 minnows (although once again, this probably would be a game not too many would be interested in anyway). So, we have a potential humdinger only 1 out of 3 games in the intial stages.

Monday, February 19, 2007

Face Recognition

MyHeritage.com has an interesting face recognition program for matching your face with that of celebrities. These are the results I got after uploading my pics :-)

Sunday, February 18, 2007

Wanted: top notch professors

This is how some of the premier institutes plan to retain and hire top professors. The report goes on to say "IIT Delhi is planning to “play on the emotions” of Indian scholars studying or working abroad. Faculty members travelling overseas have been told to seek out bright young Indians and encourage them to return."

Wonder whether they really believe it will work. I may be wrong, but it seems to me the two key reasons for Indian academics preferring greener pastures abroad is: 1) Better research facilities, and 2) Money (not necessarily in this order). There are other impediments as well, some of which has been listed nicely over here by Dr. Phanikumar.

Research facilities available in some of the universities abroad are still out of reach for Indian universities having a similar standing in India. So far as the salary differential goes, I guess the following set of figures might be interesting.

The avge starting salaries for undergrads from a good university in US - $60k p.a.. The avge starting salary for an Asst prof in US - $75k p.a. Compare this with Indian stats. The avge starting salaries for undergrads from a good university in India - Rs15-18k p.m. (IITians, BITSians and some of the NITians as well as a few other places like BHU, Jadavpur, etc have a better average). The avge starting salary for an Asst prof in India - Rs18K.

The avge grad student in US may end up with a stipend of $20k p.a. The Asst prof manages $75k p.a. Compare with Indian scenario. The PhD students get Rs 10k p.m. The Asst prof gets Rs 18k pm.

Then again, some of the developed countries have a large number of industries willing to engage academicians in consultancies. The apalling status (at least on the R&D front) of Indian industries preclude consultancies to some extent at least.

How much of these problems does IIT Delhi hope to overcome by "playing on emotions"?

Friday, February 16, 2007

A Tale of two players

When Sourav Ganguly gets dropped due to poor form, it is justified; he has to grind out in the domestic circuit for an year to make it back.

However, should Sehwag ever run out of steam, he would still be in for the big tournaments because he is a proven matchwinner (so what if the matchwinning performances were aeons ago?)

Tuesday, February 13, 2007


The Telegraph has an interesting op-ed on microcredit system over here. An interesting quote from Mohammed Yunus which gets quoted there: ... the difference between classical economies and poverty solutions was that the former sought answers from the head while the answers to the latter had to be searched from the heart.

Teraflop desktops

Good news for the computing enthusiasts. The Telegraph reports that Intel might soon be ready with teraflop desktops.

"Intel has touted a diminutive new microprocessor that it said could deliver “supercomputer-like” performance to home computers and handheld devices.
Intel said yesterday that its unprecedented programmable processor was not much larger than a fingernail, used less power than a typical home appliance and could perform more than a trillion calculations per second — a “teraflop”.
Such “tera-scale computing” could make possible artificial intelligence, real-time speech recognition, realistic video games, instant online film viewing and other stuff from the realm of science fiction, according to Intel. “Our researchers have achieved a wonderful and key milestone in terms of being able to drive multi-core and parallel computing performance forward,” said Intel chief technology officer Justin Rattner. "

Friday, February 9, 2007

Battle of Knowledgeables.

Here is an article on the spat inside the Knowledge Comission. It is interesting to note the Communist party state Pitroda does not understand the Indian ground realities". The "broad" and "indepth" understanding of "ground realities" by the CPI is there for all to see, with their recent land acquisition drive and their "superb" stewardship of Bengal over the past 3 decades.

Wednesday, February 7, 2007

Mathematics and Materials Science

Yet again, the professor harped to a class of MSE grad students, "I know that those from an MSE background arent too familiar with the mathematical techniques..."

Wonder why is it always like that? In India at least, students get into IITs / BHU / NITs through gruelling exams which have a significant mathematical component (In fact, when I took up the state entrance exam in 2000 for admission to REC, the math paper carried 200 points, physics 100 and chem 100). Seems to me that its criminal to take in students based on mathematical aptitude and then fritter it all away by divorcing metallurgy courses from mathematics.

A couple of guys in our Metallurgical Engg Dept were also amongst the toppers in the Regional Mathematical Olympiad during high school. By the time we were through with the BTech program in Metallurgy, they (as well as the rest) were hard put to solve simple problems in calculus, probability and combinatorics. Till date, this remains my single bigggest greivance regarding metallurgy / materials science education.

Wonder when the metallurgists will wake up to the fact that math, when applied to meta, can actually be fun!!

Team India

My pick for the World Cup:
Saurav, Robin Uthappa, Sachin, Dravid, Yuvraj, Irfan Pathan (C'mon, everyone cribs that he isnt taking wickets, but the lad still averaged more than some of the established batsmen at least in the (disastrous) SA tour), Dhoni (wk), Agarkar, Kumble, Zaheer, Munaf as the first XI, with Bhajji and Dinesh Karthick as back ups. The other two slots are up for grabs though.

Sunday, January 28, 2007

Statsguru in Cricinfo

The site cricinfo has an interesting feature called statsguru. This allows us to view statistics of different players, grounds, etc using different filters. I decided to do a bit of research on the Indian team with statsguru, and here is what I found:

In general, the 4th innings of the test match is supposed to be the toughest of the match for a batsman, due to deteriorating pitch conditions. (Okay, agreed, this need not always be the case, but, thats usually what happens in tightly contested test matches). Here are some of the stats (as of today) of the key Indian batsmen, while playing overseas:

Sachin Tendulkar M-28; Avge- 31.13; C-1; H-2
Rahul Dravid M-23; Avge- 59.12; C-1; H-6
VVS Laxman M-16; Avge- 34.54; C-0; H-2
Saurav Ganguly M-20; Avge- 40.41; C-1; H-1
Virender Sehwag M-10; Avge- 24.57; C-0; H-1

Compare that with another all time Indian great
Sunil Gavaskar M-20; Avge- 72.21; C-4; H-5

And the Aussie powerhouse,
Ricky Ponting M-20; Avge- 62.15; C-3; H-1

Read as: M=Matches (where the team batted 4th), Avge = average in 4th Match Innings, C = centuries, H = half centuries

Well, well, Sachin or Sehwag hardly seem to be the crisis men to me. I would rather stick out with Dravid (and even Ganguly, with his "faulty" technique and all). But, possibly this underscores the value Sunil Gavaskar added to the Indian team.

gender equality

Just read through this. I suppose this is what the NCW and feminists mean by gender equality :-P

Monday, January 15, 2007


The recent video of Gandhi seems to have ruffled quite a few feathers (and maybe rightly so). Here is Gautham Prasad's reply (as an update) in the blog. Makes me wonder what would happen if somebody tried the same stuff regarding leaders of a few fundamentalist outfits. Fatwa (or its equivalent) for sure!!

Sunday, January 14, 2007

Battleground Singur

Recent controversy over Singur and Nandigram lead us to an interesting debate, that of farmland vis-a-vis industrialization. I see the following reasons which suggests that setting up an industry in Singur may not be such a good idea.

Daily wage laborers: Associated with the farmlands are daily wage laborers. The government compensated the land-owners, but the poorer people, namely the daily wage laborers didn’t get anything since they didn’t own any land there, but just worked on the land. Many of them might not find employment in Tata factory. Tatas have gone on record saying that they may not be able to provide jobs to all those who lose their jobs. They will employ only some of the “employable” people. Most agricultural workers don’t have training for jobs like fitters, welders etc, and there is a limit to how many Tatas can employ as coolies etc. Consider Tata Steel. It is one of the biggest Tata factories, yet has about 2900 employees. I believe the present factory will employ a lower number, and many of the employees will be skilled personnel like engineers and technicians. Therefore, while creating new jobs, the factory will take away some of the older jobs, possibly from the people who need those jobs more urgently.

Older investments: Singur is a reasonably well-irrigated area (or so I heard). A great deal of money has been invested for irrigation. What happens to those facilities? Is it justified to fritter away the taxpayers’ hard earned money on building facilities and then wasting them?

Industrialization with a human face: Industrialization of Bengal is overdue. There can be no two opinions on this. Singur is not the right place though. However, since the government has already taken the plunge, what it should do right now is damage control. It can’t back out now, since this presents a negative image. What it can do is not to acquire more agricultural land for industrialization. At the same time, specifically in context of Singur, it has to set up a co-operative society within which a self-sustainable model can be built. This could involve setting up a small scale industry (the type suited for unskilled workers).

Food vs Cars: Take your pick. which one is a more pressing need.

Bottom-up approach (this is a much more general comment): Unfortunately, Indians always believed in a top down approach. In the context of development, its high time people and the government realize that development need not always be all about large industries. If you looked at the Nobel prize for 2006, you will see that one of the awardees was Mohammad Yunus, an economist from Bangladesh. He introduced the concept of micro-finance and micro-credits. It has been applied by NGOs in very poor villages close to Hyderabad with astounding results. The good thing is that not only do the villagers benefit, but the NGOs running the show get decent dividends. So much so that some of the people running the show are actually economics and business grads who left decent jobs in US to work close to these villages in Hyderabad. Now, even ICICI bank is interested and is actively participating in the micro-finance model, esp in the Hyderabad-Secunderabad region. If you are interested to know some more about microfinance model, take a look at these three links: