Sunday, July 30, 2006

Wish it would rain...

..because right now : IT'S HOT! ~90 degrees F = ~ 32 degrees Celcius.

So to feel a little better am posting a series of cloud pictures. This was a 'time-series' track across an hour taken some time back from my apartment - .
Watch the cloud cover come...and go...

See in a zig-zag fashion (left to right and then one-step downwards diagonally). Click on picture to enlarge.

Wednesday, July 26, 2006

Happy Nagapanchami!

Thank God, it's not come to that as yet.
(Nagapanchami is the festival of snakes in India)

But soon, you can expect greeting card companies to latch on. And then merchandizing companies selling rubber snakes wishing you a 'Slithering Nagpanchmi' with some cute cartoon character embossed it.

But in a sign of things to come, Indians who have TV will...

(name of channel masked obviously)

Positioned strategically above the Cobra's hood above, is the name of the title sponsor. Head and Shoulders. How appropriate. Apparently this movie got an award for visual effects. I must see it. Maybe the tongue goes in an out faster than you can see. some 'serious' stuff begins. If you're not interested , go straight to the end and watch the video. Else happy if you can stick on...

Origin of the festival
Now, the word 'Nagapanchami' comes from 'Naga' for snake and 'panchami' for 5th since it is celebrated on the 5th day of the dark half of the lunar month.

The origin of Nagapanchami is that in the rainy season snakes are forced to abandon their holes due to water entering it. When they are out in the open, they come into contact with people who out of fear might kill them . The festival therefore gives the snake the status of God so no one harms it.

The other explained origin of the festival has agrarian roots since it occurs at the beginning of the harvesting season. So in a manual harvesting operation, farmers are exposed to snake bites. This festival is a kind of a homage to the snake to pray to the snake-god not to hurt her/him and family. Offerings are made to snakes and people perform 'arati' - respectful light offering - to the snake.

If you are not a person who believes in all this, you can just look upon it as a psychological comfort for farmers. See the quote i have put in bold below. It's from a paper in 'Asian Folklore studies' by Asutosh Bhattacharyya :

"I have myself seen living snakes in a village shrine of Siva in the district of Burdwan. They live inside holes made on the walls and floor of the shrine and generally feed on milk and other offerings given before the deity at the time of worship. Gradually they increase in number. But nobody coming to the temple is afraid of them nor do these ‘domesticated’ serpents cause any harm" (Asian Folklore Studies, Vol. 24, No.1(1965), p 1-10)

Of course, now this festival like others has just turned into a money making thing. Every year hundreds of snakes are captured by snake charmers and tortured. for eg. their fangs are removed so that even after they are released they are not able to hunt and consequently die. All this is so very against the spirit of the festival. In fact in the same paper i quoted above, there is this reference (specific sentence in bold) to show you how things have changed.

"At the time of worship these snakes come out of their holes where they hide themselves during the day and night. After the worship is over they take food and drink offered by the priest and then quietly retire to their holes. In some places serpents live in the hollow of big peepul trees which shade the shrines below. At the time of the annual worship of Siva offerings are also made by the devotees. None ever think of causing any harm to them. Snake charmers also not allowed to catch these snakes which are considered absolutely harmless due to their supposed divine association."

From an esoteric standpoint, Nagapanchami worships the 'Kundalini shakti' - the spiritual 'serpent' energy within all of us. At the same time we pay homage to Sri Patanjali, the great grammarian and the sage who gave us the Yoga-Sutras (His image on right).

He is believed to be an incarnation of the Serpent-God, Adisesha on whom Lord Vishnu is depicted to be resting.

Two online resources to the Yoga-Sutras are:

To wrap this post up, three videos for you. Watch the first two till the end.

1) This is from one of the 'famous' snake parks in Thailand. In my view pure harassment for the animal. In fact, feel uncomfortable posting it. But am amazed at the circus. The handler is putting his life at risk. The animal feels threatened and keeps striking. Stupid tourist marvels at it all.
Incidentally, this 'cobra-kissing' is done at Battis-Shirala in Maharashtra, India as well. The village is famous for its Nagapanchami festival. I remember the village being covered on NGC some years back. Apparently the snakes there are handled humanely. But even then, it definitely is traumatic for them to be caught from the forest and worst - kissed by humans!

Tuesday, July 25, 2006

Monday, July 24, 2006


YSR is Yeduguri Samuel Rajasekhara Reddy - chief minister of the Indian state of Andhra Pradesh. Famous - sorry, infamous - for a lot of things. Read here.

Right now, his prime focus is apparently trying to wrest control of one of Hinduism's most famous pilgrimage sites - Tirupati-Tirumala. Remember that the temple has an annual revenue of Rs. 7,380 million = 164 million$ !

The amount of religious conversion activity in T-T is unprecedented. Despite the government rule that this is not allowed there. Forget that, YSR's government came up with a statement saying only two of the seven hills belong to the temple! Then after vociferous protests, they have now said 'it depends on the centre'. See here. Also remember that this is same guy who proposed a 5% reservation for Muslims - divisive politics. The religion quota was thankfully refused permission by the Supreme Court. See here.

Recently, there was a meeting by Hindu religious leaders to discuss the tremendous conversion activity occuring in Tirupati-Tirumala. Needless to say, a fact-finding commission found out serious issues eg. employees of the temple board being converted - again not allowed as per law.

This is the problem. Tolerance is taken for granted to conduct mischief. And it then turns a full circle.

YSR's profile is fun to read on Wikipedia here. If there was ever a critic of Wikipedia content she/he just needed this article to quote. Obviously written by a big fan of YSR. Then someone has edited it - all of which has led to one big confusion. See the print screen below and enjoy! (click to enlarge screen-shot)
Apparently YSRs multipronged economic strategy is to give free power.

Friday, July 21, 2006

Update on evil Arjun and Reservations

Before i give you any update (in other words venting out my own frustration), take a look at this screen-shot:

Please note:
1. The words 'titanic vision' in quotes. Almost like they knew the titanic chaos the man was going to cause.

2. Creative caption (by the way, it's clipped off - he's not Prime Minister as yet)

3. Note the word 'Amrut' (nectar) right between the two Singhs. Now, recall the Kurma Avatar story and the battle for the divine nectar between the forces of good and evil. You know what i am getting at.

4. The full story that appeared last year here. Note disproportionate coverage and evil's quote somewhere in between:
" the only guide to a man is his conscience"

Now, let's come back to the update. Two of them.

1. If anyone can do this, he's definitely evil. The bomb blasts happenned on July 11th, 2006. This man the very next day makes a statement on reservations for Muslims - it's almost as if he was crying for attention. And he was talking about conscience on his birthday.

Incidentally, one more example of his conscience, which was noted by blogger barbarindian here. I won't spoil it for you. Alternatively, see evil's official webpage - click on biodata and check what he gives his profession as. Conscience?

2. Now, forget that, evil went one step further. In the cabinet meeting called to discuss the blasts, he and another extraordinary statesman, Antulay, suggested that 'Hindu' groups were behind the blasts so that they could then blame Muslims!!! See here. Apparently, our PM wasn't interested in this theory:

"....this prompted Prime Minister Manmohan Singh to urge the Ministers to refrain from raising 'divisive issues' in the Cabinet before bringing them to his attention"

3. Few days ago, evil again woke up. Maybe he gets up everyday thinking, what do i disrupt today. He's made this statement:

" The impressive growth had gone hand-in-hand with a mounting agrarian distress and price rise. A vast number of people remained untouched by the mesmerising statistics, which the people had rejected decisively in the last elections."
Now, i don't know too much about this, but do Human Resource ministers also take decisions on the economy?

Anyway, enough of evil....on reservations, i had forgotten to post this gem - Reservation in Sports in UP! The fact that they are even thinking about it...

And secondly, reader Camelpost kindly drew my attention to this - a comment she/he left here:
(sorry for the bad formatting...didn't have time to do it up)

This is an analysis of the ranks of students admitted at NIT Calicut from Kerala: Source Hindu Education Plus 11/7/2006.

Branch, Last rank in open category, First Rank in SC Category, Last in SC Category.
Architecture 1992 7597 15799
Civil 14054 99803 113527
Comp Science 5186 41238 83642
Electrical 7246 37792 85362
Electronics 2921 12058 37362
Mech 8191 38875 82922
ProdEngg 9907 89380 90498
Chemical 12326 92769 102590

Need i say more?

Yes, i know this is SC/ST and not OBC. But my stand is that there are much, much, much better ways to improve standards for the backward castes. And OBCs especially - that's just plain vote bank politics

Sunday, July 16, 2006

Effect of smoke breaks

Thanks to Sandeep for this.
Maybe we should show it to this guy:
(Thanks to Sharat for this snap. Can't locate original sources for any of the above snaps)

Saturday, July 15, 2006

Bombay Blasts : Leave the grieving alone!

Go to this site - this is the coverage of the blasts . Alternatively go here and see the video titled 'Painful aftermath...'

Some typical dude of Indian origin reporting with that irritating accent...has no clue of courtesies such as PLEASE LEAVE THE GRIEVING ALONE!

Lands up at one of the unfortunate family's residence and has the bloody gall to say that the family came to know of the death of their member just a few hours before they landed up.

You know what that means, you idiot? It means leave the poor people alone!

Forget that, he also decides to do an 'extra' - so he goes to a crematorium and in a very stupid idiotic nonchalant fashion stands next to some funeral pyre and does his reporting. Ah, that'll look good for the worldwide audiences! They've never seen a funeral pyre before.

The worst was zooming in on the poor relatives' faces at their residence - the father and (presumably) the sister of the deceased. i am sure they'd have tortured the wife as well but 'she was holed up in a room'.

Also, somewhere around the 1.47 minute mark of the video, watch as one lady comes into the room and tells people to clear off.

Friday, July 14, 2006

Which is the real one? The answer...

Firstly apologies for not posting the answer to this on tuesday, as i had promised while responding to the post's comments - the Bombay blasts had got me quite upset.

The answer:

Two monks were in front of a temple flag pole.

Monk 1 : The flag flutters.
Monk 2 : No. It is the wind that flutters.

The 6th patriarch intervened:
"Neither the flag nor the wind. It is your mind that flutters"

What is reality? Are we sure that what we perceive is real? How much of reality are our senses blocking out? Are our senses ever capable of perceiving reality?

...and if you are sick of all this and just want a 'reasonable' answer to the question, ok...the first snap 'was closer to what i saw and the camera captured'. Is it the real thing? No.

Tuesday, July 11, 2006

Bombay blasts

Took this picture last year on 11/2 in a Bombay local train. Didn't know that this would happen today, on 11/7 .
Blasted by Islamic terrorists...need to crush brute force.

Wednesday, July 05, 2006

Who's this person - 2

So after profiling Dr.Sudarshan (who incidentally, no one i know, knew), here's another doctor. But this is a medical doctor. People in India should be able to identify this gentleman easily since he is in the news.

Well, this is Dr. P. Venugopal. He's the director (ex-Director after today and you'll soon know why) of the All India Institute of Medical Studies (AIIMS), one of India's premier medical education, research and treatment facilties - and a government funded institute.

A gold medalist at the undergraduate and post-graduate level. Also spent time training under the legendary heart surgeaon Dr. Cooley and the Texas Heart Institute. Regarded as the foremost heart-surgeon on the country he is also the pioneer of open-heart surgery. He performed the first heart transplant in India in the year 1994. He was also in the news last year for his thoughts on stem-cell* research which promises to revolutionarize heart-surgery.

*Stem cells are a unique type of cells which have the potential to become many different types of cells and are capable of renewing themselves indefinitely. For an excellent source of information on stem cell research, see the interactive tutorial at the University of Michigan's site here).

For all his achievements, he is known to be an extremely media-shy person; he once retorted to a journalist who wanted to interview him saying - "I have nothing to tell you and i do not want the publicity".

His decades of dedication at AIIMS have rewarded him with great respect by patients, students and colleagues (except for some, and you'll soon know who).

Patients talk about how they'd rather come to AIIMS rather than go to a private hospital even if they can afford the private hospitals since Dr. Venugopal personally interacts with patients. Students and colleagues are in awe of him.

Unfortunately the dedication for him has come at personal time lost - for a man in his 60s he has a seven year old daughter.

As a person
Known to be down-to-earth, no-nonsense (which has made him unpopular, especially among politicians, you'll know who soon) and a father-figure in the department.

When we himself had to get a heart-operation done last year, he chose his junior-most staff-member(Dr. Bisnoi) to do it saying he is proud of his students and if it was 'good enough for his patients, it was good enough for him too'.

After the operation, the first words on gaining consciousness was asking the doctor on how the other patients were. Read the account here.

Status at present

With 46 (!) years of service at AIIMS, having overseen 50,000 open heart surgeries and 15,000 closed-heart surgeries and tremendous respect all around, you expect the government to treat him well, right? Well, in case you haven't read about it - they sacked him two days ago. With immediate effect.

Yep. Sacked. C'mon, don't put on that shocked face - after all, they're giving him three months salary.

So here's the answer to all the three 'you'll soon know who' stuff that was in the brackets above.

Health minister Ramadoss said he was being sacked on disciplinarian grounds. Dr. Venugopal's fault? He criticized the government for interfering in the hospital's administration. Apparently technically you cannot do this. Something to do with the fact that you are a govt. servant. Talk of freedom of speech. Fact is that the interference was subtantiated by the Public Accounts Committee tabled in Parliament - it talked of excessive intererence impacting the efficiency of the institute.

The best is the way, he was ousted.
1) He was not even on the agenda in the meeting where his fate was sealed!
2) When the topic was brought up, he was asked to leave the room without even getting a chance to explain himself. The minister did not bother about heeding others' advice on this issue.
3) Of the 17 people in that room, most are affiliated to the health ministry. So what do you expect. There were only three dissenting voices. Even those who did not dissent were unhappy with the way the minister rammed his way through. Except one who agreed with the minister. Who was he? MP from TN. Expected.
4) All the time, Dr. Venugopal was waiting outside the room like a petty peon.

When the news was anounced, he was visibly shaken and had to be assisted to his car. The govt. doesn't care if you put your heart and soul into the institute for close to half a century. The govt. is only bothered about power and wants people to keep licking.

And oh, by the way, the person who heads the selection committee at AIIMS is a close relative of Ramadoss. Shameless fellows.

Anyway, Dr. V might should have expected all this. First, he was accused of supporting anti-reservation students, which was not liked by the minister. Of course, this charge has been openly stated to be false. The person who headed the anti-reservation strike said that, on the other hand, Dr. V called him and warned him to call off the strike. Read this here.

When he was on leave last month, two of his aides were removed and replaced with the minister's henchmen. Moreover, the fact that Dr V. was appointed by the previous BJP government apparently wasn't liked by the minister.

So what's next?

Political front: The BJP and the left have both criticized the move. BJP leader, V.K.Malhotra who was in that room and one of three dissenting voices, calls it a black day and speaks of how the autonomy of the institute was being eroded brick by brick.
The Congress - can't expect anything better- says the issue should not be politicized (!) and it was a matter between the ministry and AIIMS. Aiyee?

One more thing - the recommendation of the governing bidy has to be approved by the cabinet. So let's see. But can't see much hope there.

Judicial front: Only hope. Already a petition has been filed by the head of the neurosurgery dept. at AIIMS and 7 others against politicizing the governing body of AIIMS.

Today the Supreme Court severely criticized the minister and told the govt. to "be a model employer"