Wednesday, August 31, 2016

Girl Power

 

What a month it was. Olympics was the number one topic for the whole month. Even now, I see people watching recordings of some of the olympic events. But for India, there was the great Irony.

Women athletes from India saved the nation’s face at the recently concluded 2016 Olympics at Rio. After all the promotions, and goodwill ambassadors and selfies, three girls stole the thunder and showed what sheer determination can do.

 

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A news which was not widely reported was that squash player Deepika Palikkal took the Australian open, in the same weeks.

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Squash, as I couldn’t-believe-it found out, is not part of the Olympics, but there is a huge campaign for it.

So that means Indian women athletes were winning accolades for the country, while back home, crime against women is rising. I find that highly ironical. In a country were free speech is oppressed, and patirachal rules are more powerful than the consitution, it was finally women who saved the country’s face. The male athletes on the other hand, were out in the knockouts, or were banned for doping.

Not sure how long the focus will be on these athletes. And thanks to their brave life choices, many more girls can dream of making a huge splash in the world of sports.

In a cricket crazy nation, it will only be till the next cricket match. Hope here things change for the better.

 

Monday, August 15, 2016

Trivia ?


I read this on the news.
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What are we celebrating


On 15th August, 2016, India celebrates its 70th Independence day. Not sure whether they counted from 1947 being the first, as in 1997, we celebrated the Golden jubilee of Indian independence. That was also the year A R Rahman released his landmark album Vande Mataram, and why I remember that year so much, apart from Jack and Rose.  But that's not the point. These many years from the read letter day, how far have we come ? Where do we see ourselves going ? And exactly what are we celebrating ?
Growing up in India, I read in our NCERT textbooks, that India is a developing country, while countries like America and Britain are developed countries. All the students in the class asked the question, when will India too become a developed country ? The naive teacher replied, “Soon, in a few more years”, or something like that. Today it is becoming increasingly obvious that that dream has now drifted farther away from reality.
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Surprisingly, it is reporte that poverty levels have actually gone down.
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But these are global parameters to measure a country’s development. India seems to be facing a bigger problem at the heart of its social fabric. Violence against women has been rising exponentially.
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Communal violence is on the rise, specially agains dalits (lower caste members). There are more separatist movements and people are asking for the country to be further divided. The 29th state was created by bifurcating Andhra Pradesh, and there is actually a huge list of proposed further division of the country.  India is the second least corrupt country in the whole of South Asia.  With the advent of internet and social media, the country has found a new way to curb free speech, by censoring internet traffic.  As of this writing, the largest democracy in the world has still not been able to win a medal in the ongoing Rio Olympics. There have always been, and will be , natural calamities, but the country is becoming slower to respond to them, often leaving the job to citizen’s movements. And terrorism, the age old enemey of the country, is finding newer ways to intrude into the country.
So, what are we actually celebrating ? Independence day has just become one more reason to shop, and the ever-deal-chasing Indians are frantically trying to purchase more things before time runs out. People are worried to go out, fearing possible terrorist attacks in places where crowds congregate.
One thing is sure, the NCERT textbooks students learn from today will still be the same from over 30 years ago. Hardly anything has changed. We are still developing.

Saturday, August 13, 2016

United States Wins 1,000th Olympic Gold Medal

 

The United States won its 1,000th Olympic gold medal on Saturday when the American women swimmers won the 4x100 meter medley relay at the Rio Games.  Not 1000 medals. 1000 Gold medals !

 

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Now that’s just awesome ! This is due to the high importance given to all kinds of sports there.

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Thursday, August 11, 2016

Electric vehicles in India

 

Last months’ terrible traffic jam and worsening climate got me thinking about greener modes of transport. What are the non-fossil fuels based transport avaiable to us Indians ? Turns out, not very much. Whatever options are available today are way more expensive and cumbersome than the simple petrol/diesel engine based vehicles. But still, there are quite a lot of options, the general public is not aware of them.

For instance, take electric bicycles. These are the standard pedal cycles, but with an additional electric motor which can be used to further the distance that can be covered. The only company currently seen selling such bikes is Hullikal, and the bikes are priced way high.

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Around Rs 30,000/-. For this price, one can easily buy a second hand petrol engine bike. And this pricing is the biggest problem which will hamper early adoption of this novel new technology.

For the same price, or slightly more, one can buy a full fledged two wheeler, which looks like any one of those million scooters on the road. And it says it can travel double the distance.

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The company every e-bike enthusiast is watching right now is Ather. They have promised to deliver a futuristic looking smart bike, with full integration to smartphones and gps. But this bike will be priced > Rs 75,000/-

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But those few who can afford these vehicles , and their monthly electricity bills, and care for the planet, are surely buying and using them. In Bangalore, I see a lot of electric cars from Mahindra on the road. It was initially priced at ~7 lakhs, but now the price is down to  ~5 lakhs.

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I didn’t know this, but it seems one can buy an electric sedan too.image

 

Going green is definitely expensive. That and the non-availability of charging stations around town is going to slow down this even more.

Stranger Things is the best TV show this year

 

The best publicity a program can get is via word of mouth. Even after all the advertising and campaigning and social media posts, what really matters is good content. Good content drives good reviews, and results in good publicity. I just finished binge watching the first season of ‘Stranger Things’ , which debuted on  Netflix. It is an awesome piece of TV fiction. The story sound cheesy, there are kids running around un-supervised, monsters from another dimension, and evil government projects run by shady old men. But the treatment of this work and the spectacular acting by the cast of this show convinces us, the viewer, that everything depicted actually took place.

I guess that convincingness the core of this story. The internet is going ga-ga over all the 80s culture references sprinkled across the episodes. But the simplicity of that time before internet and cellphones allowed a little more realism. Today there are too many scenes in shows and movies depicting charachters simply talking into their phones. And there is an app for anything. The joy of the analog radio , ham radios, and big cathode ray televisions denotes simplicity.

But the best part of this show is the cast. Specially, the young cast. The chidren. There are 11-12 year old children playing the primary protagonists inthe show, and their controlled acting was mindblowing. Most hollywood actors of today can’t act even half as well these young studs. I was similarly surprised last year when that TV show The Whispers aired. The child actors of that show were years ahead of their adult peers, but the show itself suffered from shoddy writing, and went bonkers. Stranger , however, is supported by excellent writing, and witty dialogues.  Crown jewel is of course Millie, who plays the telekinetic young girl, and she has the least number of dialogues in the show, at times communicating only with gasps and meaningful stares. This girl is going places. My favourite charachter though, was Dustin.

I can’t wait for this show to be renewed, so I can continue this time travel to the good old eighties….and what happened to Will ?

Saturday, August 6, 2016

Aug 7, 2016


Today I read this in my news.
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It just proves that every state does not have the guts to implement rules which ensures saftety of its people. The no-helmet-no-petrol initiative was started some time back in some districts of Kerala state with immense success. Petrol bunk operators were asked to refuse fuel to two wheeler riders not wearing helmets. Soon other state governments started copying the initiative and decided to implement the law at a state level. But then came the opposition from the citizens and opposition parties. In some states, Public Interest Litigations were filed against the law, and in other states, people’s protests lead the government to drop the policy.
Just goes to confirm that Indians are lazy, but not concerned about safety.

Friday, August 5, 2016

Hello from Orkut

 

Remember Orkut ? That nice little fast and simple social network from Google ? The creator of that social network has now created a new social network. Its called Hello. Orkut Buyukkokten announced the creation of his new social network on Orkut, where he gave a simple introduction and the reason for starting the new social network.

 

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His original creation was much loved, until google decided to kill it. Will have to wait and see how the new venture is going to turn out. Personally, I am shocked to know that that simple domain hello.com was even available !