The Little Green Book to green your life!

Sunday, August 31, 2008

You love this! e-book reading like never before. The content is laconic, it just takes few minutes to finish reading the book! Hope it opens your eyes.

The Little Green Book - Morgan Stanley. Please remember to click or drag the corners of the book to flip the pages.

Link via e-mail from Santosh D.

Related Articles:
  1. Man Vs Mother Earth: Who has betrayed whom?
  2. National Action Plan on Climate Change.
  3. Mr. Global Warming dude! What the heck?
  4. It's high time we start thinking about saving ourselves.

Digital divide is beginning to end?

Friday, August 29, 2008

This article is based on Professor Jeffry Sachs work, The Digital War on Poverty.

Mobile revolution could provide logistics to wage war on poverty, says Professor Jeffry Sachs, Special Adviser to United Nations Secretary-General on the Millennium Development Goals. The Economics professor, at Columbia University, noted that, the digital divide is beginning to end.

The flow of digital information through mobile phones is reaching masses, even in the poorest countries. This digital flow is bringing revolution in economics, politics, and society. Today, mobile phones are becoming pervasive. Mobiles cost so little that almost anyone can afford them. From auto-rickshaw drivers keeping in touch with regular customers to carpenters giving appointments through the mobile phone, even blackmarketeers at cinema halls have now discovered the worth of this innovation.

On the other hand, the rural poor now have access to wireless banking and payments systems. For example, Kenya’s famous M-PESA system allows money transfers through mobile phones. e-Governance initiatives in India are worth noting. Innovations in mobile technology are promising and can cut across the boundaries to change the lives around.

Mobile phones these days have huge potential to change the lives around. "The information carried on the new networks span various areas like public health, medical care, education, banking, commerce, and entertainment, in addition to communications among family and friends”, says Professor Sachs. He also notes that, extreme poverty is almost synonymous with extreme isolation, especially rural isolation. But mobile phones and wireless Internet can end that isolation. Once we end this isolation, economic development can be achieved through innovations in mobile technology. He also hints the end of digital divide through market forces.

If the mobile revolution is used innovatively it can have unprecedented impact on education, banking, commerce, and entertainment, health care and various other areas.

Amarnath issue and an unheard v(n)oise called 'Azad Kashmir'

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

I was perplexed by the fact that God's name is there behind most of the violences, riots, unrests, terrorist attacks and many other heinous crimes.
  1. Amarnath land transfer imbroglio in the name of Lord Amarnathji,
  2. Demolition of Babri Masjid in the name of Lord Rama,
  3. Killing of over 130 innocents due to stampede at Naina Devi temple,
  4. Attacks on temples (Ex Akshrdhama), mosques (Ex Babri Masjid), churches (Ex 2007 Orissa violence) to demonstrate the superiority of one religion over other,
  5. Use of god's name for personal gain Ex: BJP's 'Rath Yatra', using the name of 'Lord Shriram' for political gains, discrimination in the name of secularism (Ex: wowing muslims to gain votes, Cast politics at grass root level).
  6. Spending crores and crores of rupees on holy events at temples, mosques, churches.
  7. Above all incinerating religious comparisons (take a look at these videos).
After all, god is supposed to protect humanity. Why is he silent (if he exist)? If Amarnathji is compassionate about mankind, why can't he help us break the impasse reached at Kashmir, his own home? (I am not arguing against god here, I am still agnostic about the existence of god).

The issue here is not the existence of god, but the use of God's name and diversified religious faiths to attain personal gains. For example, Omar Abdullah said, "As long as there is a single Muslim in Kashmir, the Amarnath yatra will never stop." He spoke vociferously in the parliament about being "an Indian first and Muslim later" (the Indian Nationalism), now he takes a complete U turn and speaks about "Kashmir Nationalism" and Azaadi. Leaders in Kashmir, especially the leaders of the All Parties Hurriyat Conference (APHC), Jammu and Kashmir Liberation front (JKLF) mastermind the protests which lead to the killing of innocents in Kashmir.

"The APHC does not recognize the Indian Constitution and has stayed away from all elections held in the state of Kashmir so far. It blames the lack of sincerity of India for the failure of the repeated attempts at the resolution of the Kashmir issue. It has consistently criticized and Accused the Indian Troops present in Kashmir of Human Rights Violations [wiki]." If they think government is not capable of handling Kashmir, why can't they contest democratic elections and win to rule (or serve) Kashmir? Why can't they choose the democratic way of resolving Kashmir issue? The protests and violences in Kashmir are not showing the road to peace, but demonstrating the vested interests of leaders who are masterminding the violence. Here is a quick look at what exactly happened behind Amarnath land issue.
  1. In the year 2000, Farooq Abdullah government had enacted “the J&K Shrine Board Act’’ to provide basic facilities to pilgrims and managing the religious shrine.
  2. Later, state government refused to allocate any land to run the functions of the shrine board effectively.
  3. A writ petition was filed in J&K high court demanding the land transfer.
  4. On April 15, 2005, a single-judge bench upheld the decision to transfer land to the shrine board.
  5. Consequently, J&K government had allotted 100 acres (0.40 km2) of forest land to the Shri Amarnathji Shrine Board (SASB ) out of the total land area of 15,520.3 km2 (5,992.4 sq mi) in the main Kashmir valley.
  6. Now this is what is at the center of the whole agitation. The separatists as well as the opposition parties in J&K now demand that this land transfer be annulled. The nationalists and people in Jammu want the land to be transfered to Shrine Board.  A clear divide between people of Jammu and people of Kashmir is thus visible [courtesy].
Now the mere land transfer issue (in the name of god and religious faiths) is becoming a precursor to what is being called as Azaadi for Kashmir. Here is how the entire situation got worse [wiki],
  1. Six people were killed and 100 injured when police fired into a crowd in Srinagar protesting the transfer of land.
  2. Separatist JKLF (R) organized a march to the controversial land in Baltal. The death of a JKLF(R) activist in a fire opened by the Security Forces became the flash point for protests in the Kashmir valley region.
  3. Some environmentalists argued that the land transfer would hamper the region's delicate ecological balance.
  4. The protests and violences became pervasive in Kashmir and situation went out of control.
  5. People's Democratic Party (PDP) said that it would withdraw support to the Indian National Congress (INC)-led state government if it did not revoke the land transfer agreement.
  6. The state government accepted the demands of PPP and the Muslim protesters. Govt revoked the land transfer decision on July 1,2008.
  7. Hindu groups in the Jammu region organized counter protests and demanded that the land must be transfered to Shrine board.
  8. The crisis deepened further when the PDP didn't lend support to the state government even after the revocation of land transfer.
  9. On 11 August 2008, around 2,50,000 Kashmiri protesters attempted to cross the LoC to Muzaffarabad, in violation of march ban orders. Fifteen people were killed including APHC separatist leader Sheikh Abdul Aziz and hundreds more injured when police and paramilitary forces opened fire on protesters attempting to cross the LoC.
  10. With increasing number of protests and killings, the noise of 'Azad Kashmir' resurfaced.

Thus, a mere land transfer issue raised an unheard v(n)oise of "Azad Kashmir". A small issue, which could have been resolved peacefully if leaders were ready to sit across the negotiation table. Freedom should be respected and honored but not to a ridiculous extent of demanding partition. We have already seen bloodshed due to the partition of Bengal (during British rule), Partition of India & Pakistan, Partition of Bangladesh, and yet leaders of Kashmir & separatist have not learnt their lesson. Pakistan's attempts to provoke Kashmiris into joining the pro-independence protests are clear indications of its desperation for Kashmir. Pakistan should stop its gross interference in our internal affairs and focus on issues where it has a locus standi.

Azaadi (Independence) to Kashmir is quixotic. The situation gets worse if Kashmir become independent, it cannot sustain economic, political and fundamentalistic onslaught. More over, increasing heinous acts of terrorism will only add to the mess. Kashmir is an integral part of India and being so is good for both Kashmir and rest of India.

Father’s Amazing Love

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

"Unless you’re a cold-hearted bastard (and none of you who read this blog are, I know), you will get teary-eyed watching this video. You can’t help it. There is no more powerful demonstration of a father’s love than this." - Courtesy, Zen Habits.

PS: Please let me know if you find the lyrics of that song, thanks in advance!

Also Read: Top 5 Most Inspirational Videos on YouTube

Sadly, My country has won fewer Olympic medals than Phelps

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

As Abhinav Bindra bowed his head to receive the gold medal, the Indian national anthem was played out for the first time in Beijing Olympics, A proud moment for every Indian. He became the first Indian to win an individual gold medal at the Olympic Games. A century long wait has finally ended.

There may be several reasons for India's poor performance at the Olympics, I guess you might have come across many articles highlighting the same shame again and again. Recently, I came across this picture which can instantly put billion Indians in melancholy.

08/08/08 08:08:08 - The Big Bang begins in Beijing

Saturday, August 9, 2008

Awesome, Awestruck, Breathtaking, Colorful,  Fascinating, Spectacular, Outstanding "Olympics Ceremony!" I guess all these adjectives could very soon turn out to be cliché when someone describe the opening day of 2008 Summer Olympics. When Li Nang was lifted from the ground and suspended in the air, there was a huge surprise waiting for the entire world. His 'marathon' run towards the Olympic Cauldron "in the mid air" along the upper wall of the Bird's Nest stadium will go down in the Olympic history as one of the most exciting moment. Fireworks that followed the moment he lit the Olympic Cauldron almost sent chills down my spine. I was thrilled and left in the oblivion for some time. Take a look at those spectacular pictures of Olympics Flame Lighting Ceremony.

Series of events during Olympics opening ceremony have won the hearts of millions around the world. Synchronized presentation of 2008 Fou drummers, Contemporary dance on a backdrop of a giant paper scroll, Giant scroll transforms into a fluid array of movable type blocks, Chinese opera, Rising royal dragon pillars, and many more performances were just beyond my imagination. This is something i will remember for the rest of my life. It was an absolute treat to watch the opening ceremony of 2008 Summer Olympics.

Check out some of those colorful images of the 'Big day in Beijing' here.

08/08/08 08:08:08 Magic/Mania
The number 'eight' in Chinese culture is associated with prosperity and confidence. “8″ means “Fa” (发) or “Prosper”. "It is not easy to meet with such a date, hopefully this lucky day will bring luck!" said Wang Wei, secretary general of Beijing Organizing Committee, in the opening ceremony.
  1. Organizers choose the date and time, all coinciding with 8. i.e. 8th second of the 8th minute of the 8th hour of the 8th day of the 8th month (August) of the 8th year in the millennium (08:08:08 08/08/2008).
  2. The Beijing Olympics live broadcast started at 08:08:08 in the morning of August 8th 2008 (US EST).
  3. It is interesting to note that the relay of the Olympic torch was carried around the stadium by 7 athletes, finally given to Li Ning, the 8th athlete who lit the Olympic Cauldron. (So totally, 8 athletes who carried the torch in the stadium)
  4. Olympic Organizers issued 800 yuan ($110) ticket for the opening show.
  5. There were 2008 Fou drummers staged a synchronized presentation.
  6. There were 2008 martial arts fighters dressed in white, opera singers and dancers wowed the cheering crowd, which included dozens of heads of state.
  7. Youngsters ran into the stadium holding make-shift umbrellas displaying photographs of 2,008 smiling children from different nationalities to celebrate the theme of this Olympics – ‘One World, One Dream.
  8. Please add if you know more of this :)
To drill the civility rules into every family, China has distributed four million booklets to homes in Beijing. The 109-page booklet gives dozens of recommendations on what to wear and how to behave in social situations, the workplace, the family, the street and meetings with foreigners. Here are some very interesting "dos and don'ts" recommended in the booklet, (some of you may hate this list, but Chinese have decided to showcase themselves in a much bigger way, no matter what. Appreciate their efforts if you can).
  1. Don't wear white socks with black leather shoes.
  2. Shake hands for only three seconds.
  3. Maintain eye contact for 30 to 60 per cent of the conversation. "If you look too long at the face of the person you are talking to, it suggests that you have more interest in the person than the subject," the booklet says!
  4. Don't wear more than three colours in your clothing. 
  5. Avoid wearing damaged stockings because it is indecent (for women).
  6. Thick-legged women should wear dark stockings, while thinner ones should wear light stockings. Avoid exposing the edge of the stockings outside the skirt.
  7. For men, it recommends dark-coloured socks and careful co-ordination of their clothes.
  8. It advises people of both sexes to avoid wearing pyjamas and slippers in public — a traditional outfit that is sometimes seen among Beijing's elderly residents in their late-night walks in their neighbourhoods.
  9. In taxis, women should avoid sitting in the middle if they are sharing the back seat with two men.
  10. And above all, booklet says, "please stop spitting."
  11. Found it ridiculously interesting? Read More.
Some interesting trivia about 2008 Summer Olympics
  1. The mascots are Beibei the fish, Jingjing the panda, Huanhuan the Olympic flame, Yingying the Tibetan antelope and Nini the swallow. When the first syllable of each of the five names are said together, the result is the phrase Bìijîng huânyíng ni which means “Beijing welcomes you”.
  2. The official logo of the games, titled “Dancing Beijing,” features a stylized calligraphic character jîng (+©, meaning capital), referencing the host city.
  3. In the opening ceremony, over 15,000 musicians, acrobats, trapeze artists and other performers in lavish costumes staged a celebration of China's history which focused on its key inventions – the compass, gunpowder, paper and printing.
  4. The center of the stadium was transformed into a constantly unfurling electronic scroll, showing Chinese script and the typewriter.
  5. The spectacular opening ceremony was masterminded by Oscar-nominated filmmaker Zhang Yimou.
  6. The Olympic slogan, One World, One Dream, calls upon the world to unite in the Olympic spirit.
Some things which may raise your eyebrow!
  1. More than 110,000 security personnel were patrolling the Chinese capital where anti-missile barriers have been erected for the Bird's Nest stadium, the most expensive in Olympic history.
  2. Four satellites are taking cloud images every 15 minutes, while 186 automated weather stations around the city gathering data every five minutes. Seven fixed Doppler radar stations and two mobile radar stations are also deployed.
  3. The Games are expected to turn the global spotlight on the remarkable rise of China from a poverty-ridden and isolated nation to that of a emerging modern power as much as on the razzle-dazzle and its history of 5,000 years
  4. Earlier, under the hazy skies, the final hours of the Olympic torch relay started in the morning at Zhoukoudian, a UNESCO heritage site in southwestern suburb, which has yielded many archaeological discoveries, including the remains of early human relative Peking Man dating to between 250,000 and 450,000 years.
These statistics may interest you.
  • There will be 28 sports at the Beijing games.
  • 302 events are scheduled.
  • 10,708 athletes from around the world will be competing.
  • 5600 press journalists and photographers have been accredited for the games.
  • 12,000 television broadcast staff have been accredited.
  • 70,000 volunteers will help the events run smoothly.
2008 Beijing Olympics is undoubtedly (going to be) "The Best" Olympics in the history. Olympics is not just a sports event, It's a biggest festival to celebrate sports, It's a conglomeration of cultures and nationalities crossing the language barrier, above all it's an important platform for building world peace as the vision of 'One World, One Dream' calls upon the world to unite in the Olympic spirit. Enjoy and celebrate the spirit of Olympics!

Some Links worth visiting:
  1. Official 2008 Beijing Olympics site.
  2. Schedule and results.
  3. Wiki page.
  4. Beijing Olympics on You Tube.
  5. Add google 2008 Beijing Olympics gadget in iGoogle.
  6. Olympics 2008 on google maps.
  7. International Olympics Committee.
  8. Just google for more :)

Niketa's challenge is not about 'morality', but about 'dignity of life'

Tuesday, August 5, 2008

Views and opinions in this article are completely based on analysis of existing laws and available sources. I would like to say that one person's ethics and values cannot be imposed on other person, unless it is acceptable by both. Niketa's case involves a vital question of life & personal liberty and hence one must respect whatever decision Niketa takes.
I have seen and read about many parents who have shown the rare courage in fighting to keep their children alive. They too were devastated and could not understand why they were being punished this way. They had no choice but to accept the inevitable reality and decide to give the best possible medical care. Niketa Mehta and her husband, Harsh Mehta, feel that they will be 'devastated' if their child is born with serious handicaps and "they wanted to abort the child since it would need a pace maker right from the time of birth and the quality of its life would be poor[...]". They have challenged the 37 year old 'law of the land' to avoid the birth of their child with a life-threatening congenital heart disease. Law says, a pregnancy can be terminated after 20 weeks only if there was a fatal risk to the mother and not the foetus.

"There are few facts which will help understand the predicament Niketa faces. The congenital heart defects are the most common birth defects. One in every 125 babies is affected by the same. Of approximately 40,000 babies born with it, 4000 die in the first year itself. 82% of babies diagnosed with congenital heart disease survive the first year of life. 78% of babies diagnosed with congenital heart disease will survive to adulthood. These facts clearly indicate that the chances of the baby’s survival are bleak.[source]".

Country remains divided over whether it would be right to terminate a foetus at this late stage of pregnancy. Here are different perspectives which may help you decide what is right (for you).
  1. "Once it is confirmed that an unborn baby is terminally sick and there is no medical report to confirm and substantiate the curable aspects of the sickness, then there is no use of fighting a moral battle to deliver a sick baby." The court says, “There is no medical evidence on record to say that he will be handicapped after birth. The petitioners have not made out that this lady's case is exceptional for us to use discretionary powers.”
  2. "There will be many sitting on the fence with lots of high moral advice", after all, it's Niketa and Harsh Mehta who is going to suffer the pain. They should be allowed to make their own decision. 
  3. Niketa says, "Nobody will come to see the day-to-day trauma of the baby and the mother. Even if the government will provide funds, it cannot help my child." NGOs say, "we can take care of the child", but Mehtas say, "How can we share our sadness with someone else? Even if they have the money to look after the baby, the child will always be compared with other normal children.
  4. The couple’s doctors say the child, if its born, will have to be fitted with a pacemaker and it will have to be replaced every four years. The couple says pacemakers are costly and it would be difficult for them to make replacements every five years. - A private medical aid company wrote to TOI expressing an interest in offering the baby a free pacemaker. A pro-life group in the city, not willing to be identified, said it was willing to confidentially find an alternate home for babies with congenital heart defects.
  5. "What is most peculiar is that the Mehta's have the resources to pay huge legal fees to their lawyer for appearing in the High Court - not a small amount by any standards, but cannot afford to bring up such a baby." - It's not a question of money they are spending in the legal system. They have taken a bold step to challenge the law of the land which of course affect many others. Their demand for change in the law has far reaching impact and may help others in future.
  6. "If science had not progressed as much as it has today, would the thought of aborting the child then enter their minds? ...why can't they use the advances in science to bear the child and try and give it a comfortable life?"
  7. "If they really wanted to abort their child, they would have done it by many means, whats the point in fighting against the law when they have no time?" - There are cases of violation of law (Example, The Medical Termination of Pregnancy Act, 1971). In spite of having stringent rules, people always find a way out for sex determination, termination of female foetus, etc. We must appreciate Mehtas rare courage to challenge the laws and provide positive impacts of this debate.
Life is the most precious gift of nature. Once we are here on this planet, we start defining what is good, what is bad and what is more comfortable to us. This definition is completely based on values, ethics and perceptions of contemporary society. Mehta couple think that their 'circle of comfort' will be adversely affected if the child is born with 'congenital heart disease'. If you think that their decision is against morality, then you cannot impose your morality on Niketa and Harsh Mehta. You cannot say that, "It cheapens our attitude to life as a whole." It's a question of life, family and personal liberty, and it has a far reaching impact on future generations.

My opinion in this case is equivocal. Time is the only answer.

Related Post:
Dr. Devi Shetty - The King of Hearts

Read More:
1. Media Reports: TOI, Rediff, CNN-IBN, Times Now.
2. The Medical Termination of Pregnancy Act, 1971
3. "The Mehta's can take heart from these stories."
4. Readers comments: 1, 2, 3.
5. Watch video on CNN-IBN.
6. What is Congenital heart disease?

What an idea sirjee!

Saturday, August 2, 2008

Think, Idea!, Invent, Innovate, 'Out of the box', blah blah are being used so much these days that, they have almost become buzzwords! But still, their importance and impact is unequivocal. We just need to 'reinvent' our 'thoughts' for getting a better 'idea' of those 'innovative' words. I do believe that an idea can change the lives around. The 'thought', 'innovation' and the 'out of the box' 'invention' of '!dea' mobile ads is something i really loved! Check this out, if you still haven't seen this ad.

PS: I am neither an '!dea' man nor an '!dea' subscriber. I just wanted to appreciate a good idea!

Creative Commons License
This work by Manjunath Singe is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 2.5 India License. The views and opinions expressed in this work are strictly those of the author and do not represent his employer's views in anyway.