Showing posts with label rant. Show all posts
Showing posts with label rant. Show all posts

Tuesday, March 6, 2018

Communal chaos in South Asia


Communal chaos is brewing in South Asia. After centuries of ‘peace’ and ‘co-existence’, religion is now coming in the way of peaceful governance. India has always had it, like the 1992 Bombay riotsPakistan had it. Then out of nowhere, Myanmar’s Rohingya crisis got world attention. And then, just when everyone thought things cannot get any worse, Sri Lanka has declared an emergency due to communal clashes.


If anything, this is proof that there is no God. Only religion.








Saturday, February 24, 2018

Good show


Good show, India. Nice going at the 2018 Winter Olympics.


Our school children will have no problems if these questions are asked to them.

By the way, do you know who was the first Indian at the Winter Olympics ? It was Jeremy Bujakowski.

Saturday, January 6, 2018

Rough start


This is crazy. Its only been a week into the new year and things are already to a rough start. Lets see..

First thing in the new year, this thing happened. First tweet of the new year !

Trump tweeted that he has a "bigger" and "more powerful" nuclear button than North Korean dictator Kim Jong Un.

A new book says Trump never planned on winning the election.


Closer home, there were multiple fires in Indian capitals.

Access to the aadhaar database has been leaked. And UIDAI is crucifying the messenger. Lead by example.

The US is mulling changes to its visas. And this has got India rattled.

There has already been 34 terrorist incidents this last one week.

The US is freezing up, and it is simmering down under.





Way to go, world ! Just 51 more weeks left.


Tuesday, December 12, 2017

Does quikr , olx work ?


After all the buying online, it was finally time to sell something online for me. I was moving, and wanted to dispose off some things second hand , which were in fairly good condition. Being in the tech city, it was obvious the answer was online. So I installed apps of the two top reselling apps in ‘demand’. And tried my hand on trying to make a little profit instead of giving things away for free.

Well, it did not work. Some did. But mostly not. Instead of what I thought were  intelligent, careful buyers who would ask questions about what I was selling, I was greeted by a horde of deal jumping numbskulls with quick fingers. The only question they asked were: can you reduce the price to zero ? Something very low. You get the point. I had success selling a steel cupboard when I reduced the price to 50% of what I had paid originally. But for everything else, the buyer wanted the product for free. Even when I asked them to come over and inspect the goods to check its quality , to justify my asking price, they flatly refused. All they were doing were judging the quality of the goods on sale looking at the picture. And thats it.

This poses a problem. What you sell must be in good condition, or it will be returned. But if it is in very good condition, you wont get a good price for it. So basically, you can only sell off things in good condition for throw away prices. Basically its a market to dispose of good things at near zero prices.

Some years ago I was building a top CRM product for eBay. You know, the online auction company ? The site which started the whole online auction and marketplace business, now left for dust. I could see production data were customers were debating the quality of items sold. Some customers had clearly been cheaten, sellers sold a box of bricks packaged as UPS batteries and electronics. But there were also lots of complaints of ‘bad condition’ and ‘poor quality’ in them. In most cases, eBay policy meant reversing the sale, and they were loosing money taking care of the logistics expenses. Thankfully I was not a case agent, I was just building the CRM system for the agents. But I could see that they had a lot of work cut out for them, even with all the automation we built for them.

Sites like quikr and olx are quick ways to dispose off your good condition stuff you no longer need. But for dirt cheap prices. Don’t expect to make money off them, specially after their sale commissions.

Well, coming back to my problem, I found success somewhere else. Another new second hand furniture service called gozefo. These guys buy your funiture and appliaces, refurbish and sell them. They will still offer you less, but before arriving at the final price, they send an agent over to inspect the goods. The technician verifiies the goods are in good condition and then quotes a value. They take away the goods in 24 hours, and sell it refurbished via their online marketplace.

Its a much better service, if you want to talk some more sane buyers.

Tuesday, December 5, 2017

Media is powerless


While growing up, we were taught at school that journalism is one of the most important & powerful career choices open to us. Because it takes an army of truth-reporters to breakdown the days news so that it can be understood by the common man. He who wields the pen, the pen is migthier than sword pen, has more power than the forces. Or so were were told. So it is disheartening to see how journalism and media are losing the war. Politiicians, corrupt or otherwise, are growing in power and are in control of the narrative, and media has no other option but to report as mute spectators.

I first came to notice this about 2 years ago, when assaults against reporters were reported in the Indian media. Any paper critical of the party in power or government, would be served defamation cases. Then the free and fair media were denied permission to report from courts etc. Then it became clear that the people who read thorough researched journalism did not vote,  and those who voted, did not read. Every big decision of the governement was criticized, clinically, by supportive facts and figures. But people failed to take notice. And nothing changed.

Demonitization was critcized, but to no avail.

The ill affects of GST were predicted. But no one cared. And the economy fell anyway.

Communal clashes were widely reported. But what changed ?

Rising crime against women were reported. But the crime only grew.


Although I speak of Indian media, it is a similiar story everywhere else. The biggest dumbstruck moment in 2016 was when no US-media could predict a Trump victory. All their prediction models and alaytics failed. In the US, its painful to see virtually every channel and talk show criticizing the administrations actions, yet not being able to keep them in check.

Late night shows in US have to demean themselves by making fun of….the first lady ! . Because they are…helpless ? There are numerous jokes about the first lady trying escape. There are jokes about ties (suit ties, not russian ties), hair and makeup, and food choices (fried chicken) even fat shaming (Chris Christie) and age shaming (Mitch McConell looks like a tortoise) representatives. Yes, they do report the news, but why do they have to bow so low themselves ?

Of course they can get away with these acts because they have absolute freedom of speech. Something we can only dream of here.  Its much worse this side. Journalists are now relegated to tweet reporters, busy reporting what is happening on social media. Everybody on twitter is angry anyway, so they just report their anger. This post go these many retweets…etc etc.


Now they have started reporting on a new financial law, using which failing banks can take away citizens hard-earned money. Something tells me the law will be passed anyway, with no one having power to oppose it.

Low standards of journalism could be another reason why subscriptions of newspapers have also decreased.

Why pay for nonsense ?

With no power, comes no responsibility …, right ?


Wednesday, November 22, 2017

Who reads book nowadays ?


No really, who reads books today ? Text books prescribed in schools and colleges…well, they still have their takers. But I am talking of all those novels and long form literature. Buying those hardcover books is sheer waste of money. As I recently found out. You see, I had a bunch of these old novels lying around the house. And in order to make space, I decided to get rid of them. Now in the past, I used to drive straight to  the second hand book store, where the book-loving-sales/agent would give me at least 40% of the cover value of the books in return. Higher if it is an non-Indian author, and even higher for hard cover books instead of paperbacks. Enough money to go buy another brand new book.

So imagine my surprise when this time the seller blankly refused to take the book. No one reads them, he tells me. Nowadays everyone buys soft copy. By that he meant the PDF/EPUB versions of books sold online. He then further proceeds to make me an offer. I can exchange my 3 year old Tom Clancy novel for another book by the same author, and pay him 50 rupees for his inconvenience. So, he wants my money AND the book.

No thanks, I respectfully declined. And then gave the book, and a few more I had to the kabbadiwala. Those road side dealers of paper and scrap. I got the worth of the book in the weight of its paper. About 15 rupees. I had bought some of them for 750/- plus.

This was today. But then something else had happened around two weeks prior. We got a free promotional copy of the Hindu at our doorstep, with the advertisement: one year subscription rates halved !. What used to cost 1800/- a year will now just cost 900/- for one years subscription to the paper. They were actually giving them away for its paper’s weight. Now I have never taken a newspaper subscription during the 10 years I have lived on my own. But I could see that more and more people were turning of these physical news feeds.

Back home, I used to have my own little collection of english novels I loved to read, even when I knew the whole story in my head. But they too went into the garbage when the paper in them started to disintegrate.

So this lead me to ponder, who are the ones still reading physical books and subscribing to newspapers today ? Maybe they are still popular in small towns and deep within villages. But within the cities, it no longer makes sense to spend money on them, when you can get the news for free. And the books for slightly more than free.  In a way, mass media and book publishers are also being disrupted, they will have to find a new way to price their products within the spare budget of today’s smartpone wiedling techies, if they want to stay in business. No one seems to be doing anything about it. Digital is the way forward.

But I still miss the joy and smell of a good book during a rainy day.


PS: My favourite authors are Agatha Christie, Michael Crichton, and P G Wodehouse. I have read every work they have created.

Tuesday, September 12, 2017

Bollywood is stuck

It has occurred to me over the years, I now watch less and less bollywood movies. The bollywood flavor of love stories is now irritating  and tediously repetitive. Its nice to see others come to the same point.

Watch how CBE breaks down the typical bollywood movie, and why its always just a fantasy, never realistic.

Monday, June 26, 2017

Snapdeal’s failure

Interesting read. Saw this article condensing Snapdeal’s fall into failure.I’ve had bad experience with them. Turns out they never had any focus.

Saturday, March 25, 2017

Too many wallets, not enough money.


The problem is cost

Looks like latest technology  startups are interested in are online money-wallets. You know, the system which allows you to keep some money in an online account, and use it for online payments. I guess, they identified something banks were totally unaware of , and built up a system to fill that up. But then, other startups too woke up, and started copying each other.  I only realized how crazy it had gotten when today I was trying to make an online payment, and got this screen.


Thats 10 different wallets !  Some I had not even heard of. So I got curious and searched for ALL the online wallet systems available in India. And I got this:


Yup. There are a lot of them. Even some mobile network companies (Airtel,Jio) have joined the race. Some banks have also released their apps. But I am not sure if they are solving the existign problems, or adding to users’ woes.

There has to now be some sort of regulation for these wallet guys. For one, there is now way to transfer money between these wallets, without first transferring to a bank. And some of them charge for those transfers. More on that later.

Second, money in the wallets do not accrue interest, like it does in your bank. That is one advantage the bank apps have.

Third, I am sure all these apps have security problems, specially on their andriod versions. Its only a matter of time before some or all of them get hacked. And the lack of IT security laws in this country means there is no proper protection to the end users.

And fourth, the ultimate problem is cost. These are all private players (except SBI). And they need to make their own profit. Which means sooner or later, they are gonna have to charge the customers for their service. What some online sites call “convenience charge”. Being in the IT business, guys like me know there are huge mulitlayered systems which power these online behemoths.  Even if they use open source, they will still need skilled programmers and support guys to power their frameworks. And all these are going to cost.

This is one advantage traditional cash transactions still have. There are no hidden charges. Unless they figure out a way to charge nominal to the customers, most of these apps are not going to survive.




PS: By they way, I have a PayTM account, the only wallet I used. Because they accept these at my company cafetaria.

Saturday, December 31, 2016

Good Riddance, 2016


And so it comes to an end. Probably the worst year of our times. Or worst year so far. Although it started off well, this year was marked with long standing political turmoil. There were those terrorist attacks, shootings,and natural calamities. And a higher number of celebrity deaths. But what really marked the year was Brexit,and the unpredicted Trump victory in the USA. Sign of things to come. Back home, the central government attacked the common man by issuing a cruel note demonitization.

Its good to see this year finally end. Good riddance. Lets not talk about 2016 ever again.

Heres hoping for a better one. Got big hopes pinned on 2017.

Happy New Year !

Saturday, December 17, 2016

Snapdeal’s express delivery is a joke


I sometimes wonder why Snapdeal is still the third , struggling e-commerce starup in India. But then they answer the question themselves. This is the third time they have delayed my delivery, even when they promise express delivery.

The company promises the fastest delivery in Tier-1 cities. But the truth is that its a big joke. They can never do a next day delivery in the city.

Third time in a row. That is amazing consistency. Remind me never to shop there again.

Friday, November 11, 2016

Chaos for Cash


In its effort to bring out black money, the government overestimated  the efficiency of banks, and underestimated the time it will take to deliver new notes. Its now day 3 of the ban on high value currenty notes, and banks and ATMs have gone dry in the nation.

Meanwhile new generation plastic and e-cash startups have upped their ante, pushing new ads to market their services. And people are still converting cash into gold paying inflated rates.

The only good thing which happened to me was that Bangalore elevated tollway stopped charging their entry fees. So the tollways were free for all. And that lead to reduced traffic too.

I guess it will take at least a month to get fresh cash in circulation again.

Thankfully, cities like Bangalore had already gone majority cash-less. All supermarkets and most restuarants already accepted plastic money. In the wake of cash scarcity, they have reduced the minimum amounts required to make the transaction, and are letting people swipe cards for even Rs 50/-. Cab services which accepted cards and e-cash services had brisk business. But auto-drivers were left in the dark. There are talks of black marketeers charging upto 40% commission to exchange out the older notes in the system. There is also news of a person contacting the beggars-mafia to arrange for hard cash !

Somebody even made an Unboxing video of the new 2000 Rs/- note !

Sometime back I had read an article on gloomberg arguing why a cashless society cannot exist. I guess its author needs to take a second look at India.

Wednesday, November 9, 2016

Its a whole new world


I hate the open office configuration, what’s designed to facilitate communication sometimes leads to communication mayhem. Like today. The whole office floor was buzzing with bad news. The dual attack of bad news in the day. The biggest breaking news of this year.

One was the fact that Trump is leading in the US election results. And the other big bang was the Indian Government's decision to discontinue high denomination currency notes. And the third news was that the stock market was under attack , and the sensex was headed down.

When Election Day dawned, almost all the pollsters, analytics nerds and political insiders in the country had Hillary Clinton waltzing into the White House. Headed into Election Day, polling evangelist Nate Silver’s 538 website put Clinton’s odds at winning the White House at about 72 percent. By midnight, the site had more than flipped its odds making, giving Trump an 84 percent chance of winning.

This was the biggest 'error' statisticians had committed in centuries. It’s amazing how with all the latest analytics systems and big data and social media..and all those nonsense..they still got it wrong. By a huge margin.

I feel so bad for Stephen Colbert. And John Oliver. And Jimmy Fallon. And James Corden. And Trevor Noah. Even Bill Maher. And Jimmy Kimmel. The past many months, I have devoured their sketches and news and bits whole heartedly, knowing and trusting their hints that the Democrats would win. Here's hoping they are around for a lot more time.

Anyway, back to my office, it was clear there was cause for concern. A lot of Indian IT companies depend on US enterprises as clients for outsourced work. Trump and the republicans in power would mean its the end of it all. This could be end of Indian IT as we know it.

And back home, the incumbent government's struggle to contain blackmoney took a new turn when they announced the de-monetization of high value currency notes. Indian citizens now had 50 days to deposit all their de-monetized currency with banks. Keeping in mind there are over a billion citizens in the country, 50 days seems like too little time to get through it. But this short window is definitely required, to prevent people from converting all their ill-earned wealth to legal, 'white-money'. Its amazing how a decision of such high importance was kep top-secret till the Prime Minister got to personally announce it on an unscheduled address to the nation.

Kudos to the government for this ultra-quiet, sneaky, 'surgical strike'. This time, nobody is asking for proof.

Now just to be clear, no-one in the IT industry will have to worry about their wealth. It is probably the only industry to pay correct taxes upfront, with tax deducted right at the source. All IT employees are paid online, and they have their Form-16s and TANs and PANs to show. For once it turned out honesty indeed is the right policy to live by.

Historians are going to remember November 8th, 2016 as the day everything changed. The most unpredictable happened right in front of our eyes.

And no one saw it coming.

Wednesday, September 14, 2016

An Unforgettable Onam….


…In which we travel via Banaswadi and on Kochuvelly during the Water wars.

Happy Onam. It is easy to wish somebody in two words, but no true Malayalee can explain what Onam really means to us. For many of us, we stay away from our native, only so that we can come back to celebrate Onam. Which is usually easy, travelling is becoming easier and affordable every day. But this year, we had to overcome a different kind of adversity. The violent self-destruction of a state during its water wars.


I will not explain what these water wars are, enough has been said of the matter by the media. We were supposed  to travel from Bangalore to Kerala on Monday, the 12th of September ,2016. The day started pretty well off in Bangalore city, with all its cheer and lovely climate. But shortly after noon, violent erupted when self-appointed 'protectors' of the state started putting public and private property on fire. A very ironical way to agitate against shortage of water. But that is what happened.

By evening, all public and private vehicles were being blocked from Karnataka to Tamil Nadu at their borders. And TN numbered vehicles were being targetted and burned in Bangalore. Our scheduled bus journey in the evening is cancelled by the operator. And we are stuck in the city. Section 144, and shorter version of  a curfew, is imposed very late in the day, after all the damage is already done.

It was safer to stay back home that day. The next day, there was still no decision if vehicle movement has been restored at the border. So we wait. It was the first day of Onam, when back home in Kerala, Malayalees would throng the markets for purchases. Last minute groceries to clothes, to shopping for Onam discounts. We were supposed to be there, but instead, were stuck 500 kilometers away.

That evening, I began to check travel sites. All private buses had stopped operations, there was no need to take such a huge risk and endanger the lifes of the crew and travellers as well. But it seemed, the trains were still on track. Pun intended. None of the trains bound to Kerala had been stopped. Instead, the railways had arranged for special extra trains to carry people stuck in the city back home. It was probably the only positive action taken by somebody in power that day. But these special trains were unreserved, and  undoubtedly crowded. So I decided not to opt for them.
So I checked the IRCTC site, and found that the last train to leave from Bangalore to Kerala was at 9pm. A non-daily , all AC reserved train called the Kochuvelly garibh-rath. It was scheduled to start from a station on the north side of the city (Yeshwantpur), which was faar away from where we were staying. And it had only one other stop in the city, at a small station called Banaswadi. Although I had heard of the name of the place many times before, I had never known it had its own railway station. That place was still far away, but still commutable. There were no direct buses from our location. We had to rely either on radio-cabs, or take three different buses to get there. BMTC public transport buses were still plying, but not to all places. All the major taxi operators had closed their offices, but some cab drivers , who were willing to take the risk, were still driving around.

And so the first miracle. The train was still accepting reservations, and there were berths available ! Unbelievable. I booked confirmed berths for our travel. Now all we needed was to get to the station on time. So we started attempting to book cabs on Ola. We tried other radio cabs as well,but they were not available.

Due to the curfew like situation in the city, lights had been turned off everywhere to prevent people from grouping together. Street-lights were off.  And the shops were still shut down, so no lighting from there either. It was an eery feeling walking through the city in pitch darkness. I have only seen a fully lit metro-city in Bangalore during nights. All the traffic lights had defaulted to yellow, so it was a free-for-anyone on the junctions. The lesser number of vehicles helped, but those vehicles were driving all over the place.

And then the second miracle. We had been trying to get a cab to Banaswadi. Finally, after more than an hour of pushing buttons on the app, a cab responded. There was a shared cab available to travel to Banaswadi.

Things were back on track now. It took some time to find the Ola-cab, then a one hour journey to the destination. This is the first time that Ola actually sent a cab when we really really needed one.


The Banaswadi station was shorter than the length of a train compartment. It was a small locality with secluded roads, and nicely tucked away. And it was crowded. The crowd was overflowing through the front steps into the yard. And I could hear a lot of Malayalam and Tamil being spoken. Clearly they were all from neighbouring states and were waiting to travel home. We had arrived an hour prior to the scheduled departure time of our train. So we waited, and watched, as trains chugged in and out and ferried off stranded passengers. More passengers arrived via autos and cabs, a family was dropped off by 5 youngsters on their bikes.

Our Kochuvelly express was the last train to Kerala that night. And we could see the whole train was booked and boarded by anxious Malayalees who were travelling home for their state's biggest festival.

Now after celebrating Onam, we still have not decided how we are going to get back. Its now TN's turn to agitate. A day-long bandh has been called in the state, and buses and trains will be stopped at the Karnataka-TN border.

I hope the journey back is less adventurous.

Saturday, June 25, 2016

And now they are going to destroy Ustad Hotel


After the Bangalore Days remake massacre, they are now going to remake the hit new-age movie,  Ustad Hotel. They are going to retain some of the actors, but it will definitely be localized a lot.

You can surely separate the creative directors from the business minded directors via these remakes. Remake directors don’t have the courage to put together something of their own. So they resort to remakes.

Wednesday, November 11, 2015

The Google-Doodle reporters


Google is now releasing more of their doodles, more frequently now. And this has opened up a few job openings, at traditional news agencies ! I couldn't help noticing that every time a new doodle comes out, all of the nations dailies put aside a separate article about it.

Here's some from a few days back. Google released a doodle on Hedy Lamarr's birthday.


And it can be seen that every paper in the world is covering it.


The individual articles are examples of worst news reporting. They are nothing more than content from the subject's Wikipedia article.


The NDTV article was written by a Aditya, and it seems all this person does is cover Google doodles.



Thursday, October 8, 2015

Bangalore Is Getting Inundated By Creeping Toxic Foam


Strange, puffy, dense clouds are descending on the streets of Bangalore, India’s technology capital. While whimsical-looking, they are actually puffs of a toxic foam inundating the city.

Documentary photographer Debasish Ghosh has captured images of the clouds floating around the city and overrunning the roads. The foam comes from Bellandur, a 1.4-square-mile lake that for years has been polluted by chemical and sewage waste. Every time it rains, the lake rises and wind lifts the froth up and carries it into the city.

The toxic foam gets in the way of pedestrians and cars, creating awful traffic jams. It carries a stench so strong that it burns the nose. And if it comes into contact with your skin, you’ll get an itchy rash.

“It causes a nuisance,” Ghosh says.

Making matters worse, the froth is flammable. In May and June, the entire lake caught fire, leaving a 56-year-old man who was standing on a bridge above the lake with a ruptured cornea.

The froth has come every summer for more more than a decade now, but Ghosh says that this year is particularly bad. He’s been documenting the pollution since May, making sure to immediately clean his arms, hands, and face any time he gets too close.

Harmful Snowy FrothWhen it rains, the froth rises up and gets carried into the city by winds. (Debasish Ghosh)Harmful Snowy FrothOfficials try to “hose” down the lake, using water to keep the foam from rising. (Debasish Ghosh)

Residents in the area have filed numerous complaints to the city, according to Ghosh, but the government has done little to remedy the situation. Ghosh says since his photos were first published by the BBC, the government has paid a bit more attention, but still not enough. For now, city officials try to keep the foam down whenever it rains by pumping water into the lake. “What happens is the water [mixes with] the foam at a high speed, and it disintegrates and doesn't rise up,” says Ghosh. “That's how they are controlling it at this point in time, so it doesn't fall on people.”

Actually cleaning up Bellandur and other polluted lakes won’t be easy. Once known for being the home of nearly a thousand lakes, Bangalore has become known as the “land of a thousand sewage tanks,” instead. Today, after years of urbanization, only about 150 lakes still exist, according to the Deccan Herald. The rest are either used as garbage dumps or, when they dry up, filled in and put up for grabs.

“There’s so much pollution that it will take lots of time and lots of investment to bring this lake back to normal,” he says. “To what it was maybe two decades ago, when people say there would still be migratory birds in there.”

Harmful Snowy Froth(Debasish Ghosh)Harmful Snowy Froth(Debasish Ghosh)Harmful Snowy Froth(Debasish Ghosh)Harmful Snowy Froth(Debasish Ghosh)Harmful Snowy Froth(Debasish Ghosh)

Wednesday, September 30, 2015

Why India Won't Get A Permanent Seat At UNSC

India has been actively pursuing its quest for permanent membership of the UN Security Council (UNSC). It has pushed for text based negotiations in the UN General Assembly (UNGA) as a step to move forward the agenda of UNSC reform and expansion stuck fruitlessly in the Open-Ended Working Group all these years. Now that the UNGA has resolved to commence such negotiations in the 70th UNGA session, there is sense of progress. Many would rightly say that the start of text based negotiations does not mean that India is anywhere near obtaining permanent membership. The text in question is not a mature document that could be finalised or significantly progressed during the current UNGA session. In reality, this is the start of a long drawn-out process with no visible closure date. No breakthrough that brings us within striking distance of our aspiration has actually been achieved.

Hard reality

Some believe that an unjustified sense of achievement is being projected officially, or, worse, that official India is being hopelessly naive in ignoring the hard reality that UNSC expansion remains a remote proposition. To think that our professionals have been hypnotised by their success in terms of better structuring the process would be unwarranted. They understand that the process now begun does not guarantee success on substance within any predictable time-frame. The negotiating text is a 25 page document that contains the views of diverse groups of countries, whether the L69, the G-4 or the African group, on five identified parameters, namely, the size of the expansion in the permanent and non-permanent categories, regional distribution, the working methods of the Security Council, its relationship with the UNGA, and veto powers. These are complex issues on which negotiations could drag on for ages. To expect concrete results from the 70th UNGA session would be to harbour illusions.

Nevertheless, to view the introduction of a negotiating text as a futile exercise would not be justified either. That China, Russia and the Uniting for Consensus (UFC) countries (comprising countries like Pakistan, Italy, Mexico, Egypt, South Korea etc) have rejected the text and strongly opposed its introduction suggests that they see this step as a breach in their strategy to continue stalling the process of reform and expansion through open-ended discussions without any working text. They have made demarches with member states to change their position, but without success. China, Russia and US have effectively boycotted the process by refusing to provide any inputs to the negotiating text. The UFC countries too have not provided any input but have asked the UNGA president to attach their letter to the text. France and UK have, on the contrary, provided inputs. Russia’s negative position has been particularly noted in India. We expect China to block our bid for permanent membership as much as possible.

Highly restrictive

We know the highly restrictive US position on expansion, including its ambivalent phraseology on our claim for permanent membership. Russia has supported our candidature for years now, which is why its heavy-duty opposition to a negotiating text has come as a surprise. This suggests that they along with China actually do not want UNSC expansion. In discussions with us the Russians apparently claim that they have no issue with India’s membership and that of Brazil, but are strongly against that of Japan and Germany. The UN Charter requires a two-third majority for amendments, but Russia wants the expansion and reform issue to be decided by a larger majority, a “near consensus” as they say.

Current challenge

Russia otherwise insists on the supremacy of the Charter, but, inconsistently, not in this case. Their other argument that the vote will be “divisive” is not convincing because the last expansion was decided not only by a two-third majority, but was divisive, as two permanent members abstained. While we are of the view that reform and expansion will improve the functioning of the UNSC, the Russians are concerned about disintegration and fragmentation of the UN as a result. We would prefer Russia to be less rejectionist on the issue.

The immediate challenge is to ensure that the next UNGA chair picks up the baton from his predecessor and sees that Inter-Governmental Negotiations (IGN) on the negotiating text begin in November. Beyond that, if no consensus is reached on a text which can be put to a vote- which one can safely assume would be the case — other choices are available. It can be a member driven or chair driven process. A broader coalition, which would include India, can take the initiative to present their own text for vote. The ING chair at some stage can present a text-a “zero draft” for further negotiations, emulating the process followed with the adoption of the Post-2015 Development Agenda by world leaders this month in New York. If ever a decision gets taken with no P-5 veto in the UNSC (politically difficult if the UNGA delivers a two-third majority on the issue), all member countries will have to ratify the agreement.

If cynics are right in doubting whether the P-5 will easily agree to share power with would-be aspirants, the more hopeful may not be wrong in believing that circumstances will force a change. The crisis we see today reflect the failure of the UNSC as presently constituted to ensure global peace and security.

Thursday, September 10, 2015

Hasgeek, and their ramblings to support exorbitant ticket rates

Hasgeek has announced a javascript workshop as part of their annual javascript convention in India, jsfoo. Below is the screenshot from the blog entry announcing the workshop.


Yup, the cost of an entry ticket to this nodebots workshop is INR 15000/- . Yes. Apparently, only the rich can attend hasgeek's workshops, even if they are based on free/open source technology.
Look at other workshops too:

And then, three days later they post a supporting entry on their blog about why the rates for their conventions and workshops are exorbitantly priced.
Scolling down their various entries, it can be seen that in the past, they have actually written a five-part-miniseries about their ridiculous ticket pricing.

This just goes on to confirm that hasgeek is more of  a pr company than company trying to imbibe hacker-culture in India.
The only hasgeek workshop I attended was Droidcon-2013. I attended the beginner level workshop, because on the Android platform, I was a beginner. Having worked in enterprise software all my career, I was craving for a bit of coding again, to hit the compile button and create magic again, like in my school/college days. The beginners workshop was priced at a reasonable 1k INR only.
And…it was worth it. The 2 day workshop was instructed by these exceptional speakers:
tmp39B1                   tmp63CE
Now I must say that not all of the topics in the agenda was covered. Due to the unique mix and match of the participants at various experience levels, a few things had to be skipped to keep time. But the speakers did a fantastic job of covering maximum area among themselves. They invested quality time in properly sharing their wealth of information with us, the participants, and more than happy and patient to take questions. By tea-break on the first day, there were phones going buzz and blink in the room running cool new apps developed by newbie developers themselves !
I was intrigued. For a long time I had been out of touch with open source languages, I was trying to find a way back in, to at least code in my little freetime, if not part of my daily office regime. Workshops and conventions like these are exactly what people like me wanted, simple and cost effective events which was well within the reach of coders, but which delivered as promised. I was delighted, and determined to return to another hasgeek workshop soon. But I could never.
Well one reason was that I hardly had the time. But the real reason was that all the workshops and conventions were priced exorbitantly high. For a 6 hour workshop on a topic of free technology, I could not justify shelling out many thousands of rupees.
And now things have come to a point were only the filthily rich can afford to participate and share their knowledge on free software.

Wakeup , hasgeek. No amount of follow up posts on your blog can justify the humungous amounts you are charging for your events. Not cool.

And now I am trying to watch the sucking jfsoo livestream on youtube.

Friday, July 31, 2015

Mr Robot. Or, the continuous goof-ups of Elliot Alderson, vigilante hacker.


There is a lot of buzz online about the new TV series Mr Robot, currently airing on USA network. Breaking away from the procedural and investigate formulaic shows, Mr Robot follows the story of Elliot, a young 20-something cyber security engineer in New York, and how moonlights as an 'ethical' hacker. He is, fortunately, on the good side of the world and the wrong side of the law as he uses this hacking skills to expose hidden criminals and save a few innocents in the process. He suffers from social anxiety, and chronic depression, and it is stated he occasionally suffers from schizophrenic delusions. He is brilliant on-line on any network, but sucks IRL (in real life). The show itself is getting accolades for depicting real life, plausible hacking. But for me, it also hammers home the idea that when it comes to real life situations, Elliot (and others like him) cannot handle themselves responsibly.



For instance until episode six, which aired yesterday, all that Elliot has done in this show is to screw up. Continuously. Repeatedly.

His first mistake  was definitely in the pilot episode, which got rave reviews and set expectations high for this series one month before it even started airing. After a brilliant depiction of DDoS style attack, and his counter hack to prevent further damage,  Elliot is presented with a choice. Up till that point in his life, Elliot had flown under the radar, without getting into trouble with any authorities. But now, he can either expose the hacker group f-society, or frame Terry Colby, his customer's CTO. And Elliot, reacting to how Angela was made to leave a meeting room, decides at the very last moment to frame Terry. Bad choice. We later come to know that framing Terry was just a first step for f-society, who recruit him for bigger and more dangerous things further up. If he had simply exposed f-society, he could have ended it all, and gone back to his hacker-vigilante life. Technically, this goofup was required, this is the action which starts the stage for the later events in the series. So Elliot HAS to make this mistake for the sake of the series.

Second mistake.  Getting Fernando Vera arrested. This happens in the second episode. Now this might not have been the first time Elliot is exposing a drug dealer, but he explains in his voice-over that he gets this drugs from Vera via Shayla. And he needs his drugs to stay in control. Shayla getting abused by Vera was occupational hazard. But he started caring for Shayla, and the only way he could protect her was to get Vera out of the equation. This will lead to two things later on. Without his drugs, Elliot goes through painful withdrawals, which could affect his life ,and could even jeopardise operation destroy-steel-mountain. The other thing, Shayla gets killed by Vera. That was painful.

Mistake numbre trios. Elliot gives in to his daemons. His childhood and back life was not explained till this point, but then it is made clear that his father death to cancer was caused by Evilcorp. And when this truth hits him, he puts aside logic and decides to take things personally, in an act of revenge. This will lead him to think of a way to bring down Evilcorp's servers in a 'humane' way with very little spare time. And for this, he decides to team up with f-society. Big mistake. But I think later the show will establish that Elliot was always part of the group. And we all know that Mr Robot is not real. He is simply an illusion, created by poor Elliot himself.

Fourth one was in the fourth episode. Elliot gets the Chinese hacker group, Dark Army, involved in his plan. He clearly knows that the DA hacks only for profit, and will understand his reason for targeting E-corp. But he gets their help. This gets Angela in danger, her personal life is destroyed, and it might also affect her work at allsafe. And.. the DA turns back at the last moment, leaving Elliot and his team on their own. And all this because he decides to go ahead with a poorly put together plan.

Five. Elliot goes in personally to steel-mountain to install his hack. He does not have the best social skills to talk to people without coming off as awkward. But he does it anyway. This way he runs into Tyler, his nemesis. He cooks up a story about some audit, but the truth is , he has lied. So he will have to back this up tomorrow in a later episode somehow. Which means more lying. Sending somebody else  he could have avoided the confrontation.

And his biggest mistake so far, coming up at number 6. He gets Vera freed from the jail. Once Vera got Shayla kidnapped, there was no plan in which Elliot and she could come out save forever. He should have handled that more diplomatically, could have flatly refused he knew her. But by playing to Vera's demands, he has endangered the two other girls in his life; Angela and Darlene. And with Shayla's death, he could again turn to revenge and do something stupid.

In the pilot episode, Elliot was able to balance his day job, and his nighttime hacktivism perfectly, neither coming in each other's way. But now the two sides have to dangeroulsy muddled up. It will take him a miracle to come out of this.

And some pretty neat hacks.



Ratings of this show have declined over time.