Saturday, September 20, 2008

Incidents of crime against women - Heart breaking statistics

In India, According to police reports, for
  • every 26 minutes a woman is molested,
  • every 34 minutes a rape takes place,
  • every 42 minutes a sexual harassment incident occurs,
  • every 43 minutes a woman is kidnapped,
  • every 93 minutes a woman is burnt to death over dowry
1/4th of the "reported rape cases" involve girls under the age of 16 but vast majority of the cases are never reported. Half of the total number of crimes against women related to molestation and harassment at workplace. Eve teasing is a euphemism used for sexual harassment or molestation of women by men. Many activists blame the rising incidents of sexual harassment against women on the influence of "western culture"[Kurukshetra, September 2008]. Several laws have been passed, Supreme court has issued guidelines, commissions on women empowerment were setup, but still, the number of crime against women reported are heart breaking. Take a look. Remember, these numbers are from official records, the actual number of crime against women may be much more than that. Several incidents never gets reported.

Incidents of Crime against women registered with Police authorities during 2001-2006

Crime head    2001    2002    2003    2004    2005    2006
Rape 16075 16373 15847 18233 18359 19348
Kidnapping &Abduction 14645 14506 13296 15578 15750 17414
Dowry death 6851 6822 6208 7026 6787 7618
Torture (Cruelty by husband and relatives) 49170 49237 50703 58121 58319 63128
Molestation 34124 33943 32939 34567 34175 36617
Sexual harassment 9746 10155 12325 10001 9984 9966
Importation of girls 114 76 46 89 149 67
Sati Prevention Act 1987 0 0 0 0 1 0
Immoral Traffic (prevention) Act 1956 8796 6598 5510 5748 5908 4541
Indecent representation of women (prevention) Act 1986 1052 2508 1043 1378 2917 1562
Dowry Prohibition Act 1961 3222 2816 2684 3592 3204 4504
TOTAL 143795 143034 140601 154333 155553 164765
Source:Crime in India 2006, National Crime Records Bureau

Related Articles:
  1. Women's Reservation Bill - The end of U turn?
  2. Niketa's challenge is not about 'morality', but about 'dignity of life'

Friday, September 19, 2008

The best way to predict the future is to invent it

10 years back, when I wanted to prepare for a school essay competition, I had to spend many evenings in the public library near my home. I had to be "very nice" to the librarian so that he could let me use library's archive of newspapers, magazines etc.. Today, I don't need to be nice to anyone, I just google it. Life is much easier these days.

At times, If I don't find the answer on google, I feel, what if I had a search engine which could
  • search exactly what i wanted, without even breaking everything down to keywords?
  • search the stories/articles based on image I have?
  • find me a video relevent to my blog post contents so that i can embed it in my blog?
More over, what if I could
  • search using natural language, for example, "Find me a story with an exciting chase scene and a happy ending."
  • do a search in one language (say English) and find the answer if it exists in another language (say Kannada)?
  • do pervasive search, i.e. do search anytime anywhere?
Looks like all that is possible in my life time. Find out more here. I loved this: "how about a wearable device that does searches in the background based on the words it picks up from conversations, and then flashes relevant facts?" Bond 007 suff? Well, looks like it's not far from reality. I guess I can buy one in my life time :)

Imagine, what if you can't access google search for few minutes? You may still be breathing, but for a moment you may feel that world has stopped functioning. "The Internet has had an enormous impact on people's lives around the world in the ten years since Google's founding. It has changed politics, entertainment, culture, business, health care, the environment and just about every other topic you can think of [Google at 10]." As Alan Kay said, "the best way to predict the future is to invent it." Google has "changed the lives around" by inventing innovative search engine before even systematically organizing the searchable data around the world. Looks like they are going to invent many more things in the future to change the way world function today. I found this "Google at 10" series of articles very interesting. Take a look if you find some time. It's worth looking at the future.

Marissa Mayer talks about Google at 10 Years - And the Future

Thursday, September 11, 2008

Kentucky Fried Cruelty: Think twice before you eat in KFC

If you love eating chicken, please eat, but respect one of the most precious gift of nature, i.e. Life. Nature has given every species a right to live with honor. It's very important that we respect the life of other animals. Carnivorous consumers are there in food chain. It's understandable, "Survival of the fittest" still rules. But that does not mean that Homo Sapiens are given a free licence to kill animals like what KFC is doing.

"KFC suppliers cram birds into huge waste-filled factories, breed and drug them to grow so large that they can’t even walk, and often break their wings and legs. At slaughter, the birds’ throats are slit and they are dropped into tanks of scalding-hot water—often while they are still conscious. It would be illegal for KFC to abuse dogs, cats, pigs, or cows in these ways. KFC’s own animal welfare advisors have asked the company to take steps to eliminate these abuses, but KFC refuses to do so. Many advisors have now resigned in frustration. [kentuckyfriedcruelty.com]"

Take a look at this cruelty. The trailer and accompanying descriptions in the first video here are a fictional dramatization inspired by true events.



"In July 2004, PETA (People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals) revealed the results of an investigation into a KFC-supplying slaughterhouse in Moorefield, West Virginia, where workers were caught on video stomping on chickens, kicking them, and violently slamming them against floors and walls. Workers also ripped the animals' beaks off, twisted their heads off, spat tobacco into their eyes and mouths, spray-painted their faces, and squeezed their bodies so hard that the birds expelled feces—all while the chickens were still alive.[source]"

Check out this original footageI must warn you that the video may be disturbing.



That was one of the most cruel video I have ever seen in my life so far. It took some time to get back to normal. I have decided not to eat chicken in KFC for the rest of my life, will definitely try my best to avoid others dragging me into KFC outlets. If you think you respect animal life, please think twice before you go to KFC, if not, at least think again!

Read more about Kentucky Fried Cruelty on http://www.kentuckyfriedcruelty.com.
Kentucky Fried Cruelty link via Churumuri blog.

Sunday, September 7, 2008

Nuclear Deal: Stop making apocalyptic predictions

If your mind is preoccupied with sensationalized N-Deal news stories on news channels, you will never be able to draw conclusions on Indo-US nuclear deal. For common man, the deal itself is quite complex to understand. Media should have behaved more responsibly to educate the citizen about this deal. Instead, media has prevaricated positive outcomes and focused it's debate on controversial issues like "Right to test", "Sovereignty issues" etc. which of course are hypothetical cases and have no real significance. "India could test its bomb tomorrow if it wants to - the deal is not yet operative - thereby ending the voluntary moratorium put in place by the Vajpayee government of 1998.[Ref-3]"

I had earlier answered most of the basic questions related to N-Deal, please find them here and here. 'Text of US Government reply to Foreign Affairs Committee Chairman' suggests that US has negotiated the deal in bad faith. I agree, but those scenarios are hypothetical. We "should stop making apocalyptic predictions based on worst-case scenarios (like 'India will test', or 'India will become a client state') and reflect a little about the kind of cooperative relationship India and the NSG might have with each other in the years ahead.[Sidharth Varadarajan]"

There are four important questions which have given substantial basis for making this deal controversial.

1. Can India test nuclear bomb after operationalization of N-Deal? Should India do so?
India already has enough nuclear bombs to blow up the entire world [unofficial, but it's conspicuous]. We need three things, (i) The Bomb, (ii) The bomb delivery system (for carrying and dropping the nuclear weapon), and (iii) Command and Control systems (to guide the delivery mechanism). India has all of these. So, even if we completely give up testing nuclear weapon, we have every right to continue improving our existing missiles, delivery systems and command & control mechanism. No one can stop us doing that. So, even without testing a single nuclear bomb, our existing stockpile of nuclear arsenal can destroy anyone.

On the other hand, what if China or Pakistan test nuclear bomb? Of course India can still go ahead and test (nuclear weapon) under such circumstances without terminating the deal. Article 13 and 14 of 123-Agreement explicitly ask the parties (India and US) to 'consider the circumstances' and provides room for peaceful negotiations before terminating the deal. So under these circumstances US will never be foolish enough to terminate the fuel supply. Why? US can never compromise on the issue of 'balance of power' in the region. It always look forward for India to balance the Chinese power.

Another case, even if India test unilaterally like in 1998, why should it do so without any reason? India has a commendable track record of non-proliferation and any government at the center (UPA or NDA) will continue to recognize the importance of non-proliferation for the sake of peace in the region. Why? Because India always prefer peace and we never want to be belligerent. So, BJP's views on 'right to test' are naive and baseless. "Their opposition is a case of sour grapes and nothing else."

2. Will this deal put our sovereignty at stake?
How? Why will this agreement bring billions to their knees? If India conducts nuclear test and US stops fuel supply, will India's sovereignty be jeopardized? Imagine a hypothetical scenario. Say, India conducts nuclear test. US will stop fuel supply and ask India to return the fuel. Also assume that, US will try to force other countries not supply fuel to India. What are the possible consequences? India might have to face economic sanctions from various countries (of course only from US allies), Indian economy will be affected severely. And say, in the worst case, US wage a war on India. Don't you think there are countries like Russia who can come to India's risk? Don't you think at least one out of 45 countries (that includes Russia) in Nuclear Suppliers Group will come forward and supply fuel to India? Don't you think US will be under tremendous pressure to negotiate and resolve the issue peacefully? So, unnecessarily creating such hypothetical situations to block the Nuclear Deal sounds extremely quixotic.

3. The question of Non-Proliferation and disarmament.

I feel the best answer to this question is here.
"Those who dream about universal disarmament should understand one thing - the only reason the world is safe today is because most countries have nuclear weapons - the US knocked Japan out of World War II by nuking Hiroshima and Nagasaki; the cold war remained a cold one because the US and the USSR combined had enough bombs to kill every person on the planet hundred times over. While this does not mean that nuclear technology should be distributed like sweetmeats in a fair, at least take a look at who you are talking about. Does Manmohan Singh look or act like Kim Jong Il? Or is India distributing nuclear technology to every one who is ready to pay for it - like Pakistan did? New Zealand, Austria and the like can sit comfortably in the NSG and pass judgment on India, but these countries don’t exactly lie in China’s backyard (countries that do, are protected by the United States). I am sure they will change their mind when that happens.[source]"
4. Does 123-Agreement override Hyde Act?
Indian government says Yes. US says, 123-Agreement is in full conformity with Hyde Act. One must remember that, "international treaties cannot be overruled by any domestic law, unless the treaty itself allows the countries limited rights to do so." If the United States say that the Hyde Act would prevail over the 123 agreement, India can easily ammend The Atomic Energy Act of 1962 to prohibit re-export of meterial or equipment if it affects the functioning of domestic nuclear plants. So, "If the United States say that the Hyde Act would prevail over the 123 agreement on return of material, India can claim that it cannot do so because it has law of its own that does not permit re-export of material or equipment if it affects the functioning of the nuclear plants[The Hindu]."

Some section of the Media and opposition parties must understand that Indian negotiators have not "compromised" on National security and sovereignty to get the deal done. They have just "convinced" 45 nations (NSG) based on India's commendable track record of Non-Proliferation, Disarmament, Voluntary Moratorium on nuclear tests, and willingness to resolve the issues peacefully. Before we say 'something' is controversial, we must first try and understand that 'something'. Otherwise, our argument carries no waightage. So, its not fair to say N-Deal is good or bad based on biased viewpoints. Before we say the deal is good or bad, we must verify the facts with trusted sources. Unfortunately, media is prevaricating the truth and busy in sensationalizing the 'confusing aspects'. The opponents of this deal are still underestimating India's underlying potential to influence decisions at International level. When are we going to believe that we are 'completely' sovereign and Independent? When are we going to believe that no one can take away our sovereignty?

Original Documents of Indo-US Nuclear deal:
  1. India-US Joint Statement - July 18, 2005, Washington.
  2. India-US Joint Statement - March 2, 2006, New Delhi.
  3. Implementation of India-US Joint Statement- India's Separation Plan.
  4. Text of Hyde Act
  5. 123 Agreement between India and US, August 3, 2007.
  6. IAEA Safeguards Agreement text, July 9, 2008.
  7. A secret letter which created controversy - on Washington Post
  8. Text of US Government reply to Foreign Affairs Committee Chairman
  9. Text of the final NSG waiver for India, September 06, 2008
Reference Articles:
  1. Revelations unravel hype and spin, Devastating blow to nuclear deal, The Bush-Berman bombshell and the ghosts of Tarapur - The Hindu.
  2. N-Deal discussions on Sidharth Varadarajan's (Deputy Editor, The Hindu) blog.
  3. The nonexistent “right to test” 
  4. Nuclear deal: A Chronology.
  5. Indo-US Nuclear deal - Wikipedia.
Read Also:
  1. Left's contempt for change is incongruous in a country shouting Chak De India!
  2. Breaking the impasse
  3. Left Should Look Right!
  4. Romancing India with a Vision!

Thursday, September 4, 2008

Stop comparing Chrome with other browsers, please!

Chrome is out, rumor mills have already been shutdown, but crunching comparisons, of Chrome with other browsers, are reverberating. Chrome is not just a browser, it can do lot more things. Google is envisioning Chrome as platform for the future, not just as yet another browser. "Google is counting on Chrome to become the linchpin in its effort to distribute widely used computer programs like word processing, spreadsheets and calendars through the Web browser instead of as applications installed on individual machines[source].

As Shreyas rightly noted, our definition of "Web as a platform" is flawed. We don't have statful web applications, there is no per website security (All apps run in the same address space), No access to hardware, Javascript is slow (as you can see, my table of content javascript widget takes ages to load), and most importantly, No offline support.

Imagine, what if you can do the following?
  • Access all your GMail e-mails (and archive) on local system.
  • Schedule your day in "online" Calender (Ex: Google Calender) without having access to net.
  • See your Bank transaction history without being connected to internet.
  • Open your fevorite pages on web and read it at liesure (that too offline) without manually saving them into hard drive!
  • Using Google Docs and Spreadsheets offline.
  • Write a blog entry without accessing Blogger (I love this!).
  • Update your social networking sites/tools offline.
Well, the list may not end. If you ask me, I want all the offline capabilities even in my village, that too when I am offline. What do I need for that? I need a platform which can help me access all the stuff that I regularly use on net. My e-mails, calender, reader, documents, spreadsheets, my blog entries, my bank account transaction history, and just everything. I need applications which can perform just that. Who supports those applications? I need a platform which can run those applications. Who provides the platform? Well, Chrome can just do that for me. But, not now. The scope may be limited at this point of time. But I see a great potential in looking Chrome (like stuff) as a platform for future web applications. Opera chief has already said, "Chrome will strengthen the Web as the biggest application platform in the world."  One cannot ignore the fact that offline capability is the next big frontier for web apps.

Now, we have answers to age old problems [Courtesy, Shreyas's blog].
  • Hard to write stateful applications / no offline support: Chrome includes Gears.
  • Lack of per website security: Each tab in chrome runs in a seperate process, which also means this process can be given special permissions based on its security certificate! So your bank application can finally update to your harddisk and your passbook can be available offline!
  • Javascript is slow: Javascript virtual machine in chrome will make it reasonably fast.
Google Chrome is far from done. But it's promising. Here are some interesting things Chrome can do [Courtesy, Jeremiah Owyang].
  • More accurate web analytics: Now that Google has it’s popular web analytics trackers are in many websites, they could potentially increase data gathering by using a browser.
  • Any website can now be social:  Google’s browser could eventually make any website social –even if the website owner chooses not to participate. How? A plugin could be created that allows your gmail, gtalk, and other network to join you wherever you surf on the web, essentially your social graph could go with you as you travel the web.
  • A default browser on the Android mobile platform: Google has announced it’s intention for it’s Android, a mobile platform suitable for software developers who want to incorporate their websites using Chrome. Expect to see a lightweight mobile version be available. If that comes out, it will revolutionize the mobile experience.
  • New methods to monetize: With more accurate data (combine analytics and location aware scraping) Google can now return more intelligent search results to users –in fact, each person could receive a customized search results page, advertisers would follow suit to quickly achieve higher rankings.
 Harry McCracken answers 10 FAQ about Google Chrome, I guess that should clear all your myths and help you understand the reality, Read here. One thing is clear, "Chrome is not aimed at competing with Firefox" — and furthermore should not affect Google's financing of Firefox[source].

I guess, it's high time that, web users should look forward for the next big thing in web apps - The new platform, something like Chrome. Sadly, it takes some more time to see the realities. Neverthless, worth waiting. Keep moving, forward!
 

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