Wednesday, April 30, 2008

Snapshots of grief

The World press photo of the year is often a photograph capturing the untold miseries of people.

Bhopal gas tragedy: through the camera

This is very poignant collection of photographs, all taken by Rahu Rai about the Bhopal Gas tragedy. The photographs are heart-wrenching, and I pray to god that such a tragedy never occurs again, anywhere. Raghu Rai's coverage of the Bhopal tragedy, chiefly through photographs was highly acclaimed.

A photograph, very similar to one taken by Raghu Rai (with slight difference), was taken by Pablo Bartholomew, and it won the world press photo of the year in 1984 (I am actually a bit confused on this. The site credits Bartholomew with the award, while the wiki page on Raghu Rai credits him with the award. Anyone knows which is the correct version?).

Raghu Rai's photography is truly astounding. Here are links to Raghu Rai's works on Mumbai, Kolkata, Mother Teresa and India, as Raghu Rai saw it through the lens.

Tuesday, April 29, 2008

MMA - genesis in the west

Apparently, the genesis of MMA started out as a large infomercial for Gracie Jiu-jitsu. Here's a very interesting video link. Be forewarned: the video has a lot of violence. So, if a bloodied face offends your sensibilities, steer away from this particular post (and the link).

Jeet Kune Do

Ever heard of the documentary: "The intercepting fist"? The way of the intercepting fist is the English translation of the Cantonese phrase "Jeet Kune Do" (pronounced as Jee Kuhn-do).

Jeet Kune Do is basically the philosophy followed by Bruce Lee in martial arts. His opinion was that all forms of martial arts had something to offer, but no single one has the answers to all the questions. Therefore, the martial artist should learn numerous styles and assimilate into his own style. Bruce Lee's quest for perfection led him to study different styles of kungfu, karate, jiu-jitsu and even western style boxing and fencing. He was way ahead of his time, and should be considered as the father of mixed martial arts.

Anyway, check out the documentary in Youtube. Speaks volumes about the man himself, his philosophy so far as martial arts are concerned and his missionary zeal for his trade.
Part 1, part 2, part 3, part 4, part 5 and part 6.


Modern day mixed martial arts can be roughly be categorized into 3 parts, in terms of styles. There is the so called "stand up fighting" which involves striking. Chief martial arts styles followed here are karate, kungfu, boxing, muay thai, hapkido and taekwondo. The second set of techniques involves throws. Chief styles include kungfu, judo, greeco-roman wrestling, sambo, aikido, hapkido and jiu-jitsu. The third style involves ground fighting, and is mostly based on judo, sambo, greeco-roman wrestling and jiu-jitsu, the latter being probably the most effective.

Normally, strikes and throws are a good option for fighting brawlers and untrained opponents or when outnumbered. However, in a fight between two skilfull fighters, the one with better ground fighting skills (other things being equal) stands a better chance.

Will he, wont he?

IITs are planning a fee hike. But will Arjun Singh allow it? That is the Rs 25,000 question.

The article further quotes:

Sources close to Arjun said the minister’s decision was likely to be “political”.

Quite naturally. After all, is a modern day politician capable of taking a single apolitical decision?

India's booze map

Here is India's booze map.

Monday, April 28, 2008

Quantum Gradnamics

Introduction to Quantum Gradnamics.


Lawrence Booth thinks that IPL is more like IFL (India's Foreign Legion). I agree. In his article Booth discusses how the most important performances have been by foreign stars rather than by Indians. A little bit of perspective though. This is not entirely unexpected when you have 4 foreign international players per team. In contrast there are about 1-2 current Indian national team players per team, the rest being Ranji players and Under 22 players. International stars (and not even a journeyman international player) are obviously international stars only because they are way ahead of the rest. Even looking at the performance of Indian players, the better performances are mostly by those who have played for the country (notable exceptions being Ashok Dinda of Kolkata Knight Riders and Shikhar Dhawan of Delhi Daredevils).

Sunday, April 27, 2008

How much further can we sink?

How much further can we sink? Here's the Telegraph report on the passport scandal in the Indian consulate in Dubai. 500 passports went missing. Some of them supposedly have ended up in hands of Dawood Ibrahim's relatives. Perhaps Department of Tourism, GOI, may consider an ad: "India, a heavenly get away for terrorists".

I hope the officials involved are dealt with appropriately.

Friday, April 25, 2008

Arjun Singh prepares to strike

Arjun Singh is at it again. Having conquered the combined might of IITs and IIMs, he now believes he can get away by introducing quotas in private colleges and universities.

Some facts on the 93rd Amendment to the Constitution, as reported in The Telegraph:

The 93rd amendment altered Article 15 of the Constitution — prohibiting discrimination on the basis of race, religion, caste or gender — by adding a clause on reservations in educational institutions.

“Nothing in this article.... shall prevent the state from making any special provision, by law, for the advancement of any socially and educationally backward classes or for the SCs and STs in so far as such special provisions relate to their admission to educational institutions, including private educational institutions, whether aided or unaided by the state...,” the inserted clause says.

Note the last part "including private educational institutions, whether aided or unaided by the state". The report further states:

But constitutional expert P.P. Rao, who was on the panel of lawyers that challenged the OBC quota law in the Supreme Court, said that reservations in private institutions were “illegal, as things stand now”.

“Of the five judges who heard the OBC reservation bill, one clearly said reservations in private educational institutions cannot be allowed. The other four reserved their comments as the case before them did not require them to speak on the matter. So the private sector quotas are illegal, as things stand now,” he said.
I fail to see how, when the Amendment clearly mentions "including private educational institutions, whether aided or unaided by the state". So, probably, we shall see another round of demonstrations, which in all probability will turn out to be entirely futile.

Now, let's take another look at it. The Constitution guarantees "equal opportunities" etc. The current government (as well as the preceding governments) have failed to provide the most basic opportunity, i.e. access to good school education. They have, however, decided to make higher education more accessible to people across all castes. Fine. That's what the constitution says. So, they decided that institutes like IITs and IIMs (which where established by the government, and which are run largely by the taxpayer's money) should have reservations. I am not sure that I agree with the government (*for the institutes of national importance*), but the Supreme Court has spoken and so I will hear it and accept it.

Now, they want to introduce reservations in the private colleges, whether aided, or un-aided by the state. They may well use the constitution as a shield and defend it. But, here's the question. Why should the government be allowed to dictate a private institution, which it does not support at all, to bow to it's whims? They can very well ask, nay order, the people running the private colleges not to discriminate, but what right do they have in ordering the private colleges to incorporate reservations?

Can you order a person, whom you dont pay, and who is not your employee to bend to your whims? You cannot. You can ask a person to follow common set of rules (eg traffic rules, the clauses in IPC, etc), but not your whims. Rules are made so as to ensure that in enjoying one's own fundamental right, he/she should not curb others from enjoying their fundamental rights. In my book, if a private unaided college discriminates on the basis of caste, or religion, they ARE violating a fundamental right. As long as they don't indulge in this, they are not violating any rights.

One can argue all they want, but the truth is the government will get away with this by telling, in effect, that their whims are the new rules.

Education is a fundamental right and it is incumbent on the state to ensure everyone, whether SC/ST/OBC/GC has access to education. To ensure it, the state decided to incorporate reservations in all the universities and institutes run by the state. But to ask unaided private colleges to incorporate this is a clear admission of dereliction of duty by the government. It has to force private organizations to incorporate reservations only because the state has failed to provide adequate opportunities. Arjun Singh, in effect, has handed his own ministry and the government a rather damning report card.

At the end of the day, the government will be judged by the people. Come 2009, and we will know what the people think of Arjun Singh and his policies and the Congress government.

A word of advice to other political parties: Dont shout yourself hoarse on reservations. Let Arjun Singh eat his cake. If you want to win an election, go to the masses and work on their pressing needs. India, unfortunately, has a greater chunk of people who dont even make it to middle school (let alone colleges), than people who go to colleges (all castes put together).

Bhajji strikes again

Harbhajan Singh has done it again. Having gone toe to toe, eyeball to eyeball with Symonds in Australia, he has picked up on his erstwhile teammate Sreesanth. (although Symonds, most definitely was not driven snow himself, and should cop flak for starting the issue)

All that Sreesanth did was to say "hard luck" to Bhajji after Bhajji lost the game. In return, Sreesanth had a blow under his eye.

Reminds me of Shoaib Akhtar hitting his teammate Mohammed Asif with a bat. Make no mistake, Harbhajan Singh is a hot headed guy and IMHO, he is headed the Shoaib Akhtar way. Pakistan Cricket Board lost the plot by not discipling Akhtar in his early days. Subsequently Akhtar went from bad to worse, and now, his considerable talent is banned from the game. BCCI shouldnt repeat the same blunder. Harbhajan is not yet 30. An year warming his seat in his police job with Punjab police, away from the trappings of the game should do him a world of good. Otherwise, the talented spinner though he is, he may soon end up in the rubbish heap with Shoaib Akhtar. The board should act decisively and fast. Question though, is whether a stupid body like BCCI is capable of taking such an action.

The game of cricket is changing fast; and the fabled spirit of cricket no longer exists. Wisden's editor Scyld Berry recently remarked that he feared that cricket is headed towards physical confrontation. Prophetic words. Only, they are coming true sooner than perhaps even Berry had imagined.

Thursday, April 24, 2008

The Indian Genome Variation project

Here is the link to the Telegraph report on the India Genome Variation (IGV) project. Some excerpts:

The Indian Genome Variation (IGV) project analysed 75 genes from 1,871 people drawn from 55 diverse caste, religious and tribal communities. Scientists also expect the project to throw light on how genes influence diseases, susceptibility to infections, and response to medicines.

The study by a consortium of six Council of Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR) laboratories and the Indian Statistical Institute, Calcutta, has provided the strongest genetic evidence yet to suggest that several populations have intermingled in India over the centuries. ...
The scientists consider some of the findings about genetic proximity and disease risk data as so sensitive that they have decided not to make the identities of the communities public — for now. ...

The analysis has also indicated that Kashmiri Pandits and Kashmiri Muslims are genetically similar and share genetic similarities with Dravidian groups. It has also shown that some Dravidian-speaking population groups in south India have Indo-European lineage.
Here is the link to the research paper, published in the journal Human Genetics. In my university, I have access to this journal. However, it might be behind a paywall in other places. The link to the project home is over here. I probably should have a follow up post on this later on.

The power of thermodynamics

Thermodynamics is a powerful tool. You can use it to cool beer.

Wednesday, April 23, 2008

Mukul Kesavan's IPL experience

Mr. Kesavan watched an IPL game and ... well, read yourself.

Here's an excerpt on his views on IPL

The IPL formula seems to go like this: take an abbreviated game, buy multi-star teams, chuck into pot with a ladleful of film-star flash, bus in a non-paying public with tiny attention spans, distract them with fireworks and other diversions, and sell the lot to an ambitious television channel. Only, somewhere along the way, Lalit Modi and his Money Men, mislaid the cricket.

Monday, April 21, 2008

Look sweetheart, I can fly a sortie

RAF trains its pilots on flying sorties and landing in gardens of their girlfriend's parents house.

Sunday, April 20, 2008

Know your IPL teams :)

The IPL has 8 teams.

Mumbai Indians:: has Shaun Pollock, Sanath Jayasuriya, Luke Ronchi, Dominic Thornley, hmmm ... and still, Indians. sweet.

Deccan chargers:: hyper charged Symonds, Gilchrist and Afridi, led by discharged (at least from the Indian ODI and T20 teams) V.V.S. Laxman.

Kolkata Knight Riders:: Knights fight with spears. But the Knight riders will use a beanpole amidst them - Ishant Sharma. And, just like the 300 Spartan knights had a war cry of "hau", these knights sing korbo, lorbo, jeetbo re ...

Punjab Kings XI:: Upstarts!! With a captain called yuvraj, they call themselves kings? Prince, heir apparent etc might be better names. Princess (queen?) Zinta is too greedy for the throne, eh?

Chennai super kings:: If vice-captain of Indian T20/ODI team Yuvraj dares to call himself and his team "king", the Indian skipper Dhoni will call his team "Super Kings". Quite natural. ada paavi. what else would you expect?

Rajasthan Royals:: Royals they may call themselves, but they spent like paupers in the IPL player auction and even got fined by IPL for spending too less an amount of money, way below the minimum agreed amount. Huh! The nerve some people have.

Bangalore Royal Challengers:: In these days of democracy if there is going to be so much of kings, super kings and royalty, obviously someone will challenge them. So, enter Royal challengers.

Delhi daredevils:: Led by Virender Sehwag, who likes to drink milk. Hmm... each day we learn something new. Now, we come to know that devils drink milk rather than blood. kewl.

Poor Rahul

Rahul Dravid came, saw, conquered ... and got booed. The IPL game between Mumbai Indians actually saw the Mumbai crowd boo Rahul Dravid when he hit a four. The ever-observant Rahul observed: "It's really unusual to come to Bombay, hit and four and see nobody clapping for you".

This is Mum-bhai bheedu, hum se panga lega to ...

Seems like some IPL teams have already started gaining a dedicated fan base. But one wonders, for how long...

Fatty, eat, eat, eat, if you wanna be thin

This is the way I would like to lose weight (that is, if I ever see that day when I need to lose weight)... eat more to weigh less. No really, its not a joke. There is a basis for this statement.

And poor me, I was trying to put on weight eating 5 times a day. Now I know why I stay thin :D

Revamped !!

I changed the tagline for the blog. Seems as if the busier days are behind me know, and I can peacefully quip and crib about trifles and newsworthy(??) snippets now.

My current interests? Frivolous ones include IPL (mostly bashing, but sometimes admiring), exploring fundaes on weightlifting, food and fighting (these three go hand in hand, dont they?). Yeah, more serious ones too, like art and photography.