29 Jun 2009

Blog of the Day Award

Its Different!
After Indiblogger of the Month, its now the time for Best Blog of the Day. And finally, I am not just a runner up. Yeah, its right. I won the Blog of the Day Award(BOTDA) for June 29, 2009. I nominated my blog on June 23 and was adjudged the winner the following day, though it got publicly notified today.
But to be frank, being a runner up in IndiBlogger of the Month felt much more rewarding than this award because
  • This award is given on daily basis, so there are so many fellow Bloggers of the Day.
  • Even today, I had to share the honours with another blogger. (Though sharing it with a friend, made it special.)
  • There is no voting conducted for this award.
  • It is not clear if a single person or a team selects the winner.
  • There is no way to know the number of total nominations for the day.
So, the worst case scenario is that I was one of the two bloggers who nominated a blog on 23rd and was adjudged a joint winner by a single judge, Bill Austin, the owner of the blog where the nominations and awarding is conducted. I hope this was not the case.
At least Bill has a team member Bonnie and they between themselves own a number of blogs. So, I hope I was judged by two people instead of just one. In other words, I was judged by a team:)
Moreover, on searching Bill further, I found that he is the CEO of an Arizona based integrated marketing solutions company and has *above 92000* followers on Twitter. So that gives him and his award some authenticity at least.
Anyways, this is what the 'Judges and the Staff' of 'Blog of the Day' have to say about the award.
Blog of the Day Awards offers the best selection of weblogs and famous blogs on a variety of topics. Selection of Best Blogs of the Day ... criteria include content, quality, creativity, and the personal opinion of the judges. Judges grant up to four awards each day in recognition of outstanding nominees who are recommended by visitors to the site and by a panel of judges who bestow the honor of a Daily Blog Award upon the recipients. Being named a Blog of the Day Awards Winner can be the crowning achievement of a lifetime of work or it can be the beginning of a new chapter in the life of a blogger. Presentation of these awards can bring acclaim and notoriety beyond their wildest imaginings. The accolades and praise heaped upon winners of these prestigious awards can be best described as fabulous and the stuff of legends...
Some tall claims indeed. I hope all my apprehensions are wiped off by a surge in traffic to my blog as claimed by this write up. And if such a thing actually happens, then I should be ready for some nasty comments for questioning the authenticity of the awards. I'll love it as long as I get some traffic;)
Nonetheless, an award is an award. Hence, I accept it graciously with a promise that I'll keep coming up with better and better stuff in the future.

Update (June 30, 2009)
Yesterday, I indeed had the highest number of visitors in a single day since I started blogging. The number is humble, around 50. Of these around 10 came directly from 'Blog of the Day' as revealed by Feedjit.

Image Courtesy:
http://blogofthedayawards.blogspot.com (original)

26 Jun 2009

Michael Jackson : An obituary

End of an Era
Finally the inevitable happened. We had been hearing about it for sometime. However, when it happened it came as a shock, though a momentary one. Michael Jackson, the world's best entertainer breathed his last breath yesterday.
They say life comes full circle at that last moment. What must MJ have seen at that narrow alley, that final junction between the life and death?
Seen himself moon walking, performing in front of crowds and dignitaries alike, receiving awards and cheers or shrieking after yet another disastrous face job?
MJ was always in the news, if it weren't for his music, then the reports revolved around his experimentation with his face, sexual scandals (pedophilia charges being the gravest) or his financial calamities. It is ironic, that the man who once said, "It doesn't matter if you are black or white" decided to go white one fine morning.
However, this obituary is not meant to elaborate on these dark phases of his life but to celebrate a life dedicated to music, dance and full-on entertainment.
I can not claim to have grown up listening to his songs for I had a limited access to western music during my childhood. However MJ was such a phenomena that everybody had heard about him, even if not heard him. I remember seeing him for the first time on a video, my U.S. returned buddy had brought, when I must have been about 8 years old. He looked peculiar and his songs also failed to impress me because I had been more into Bollywood in those early years of my life.
However, MJ's one song which I really loved even before I knew it was his was 'Black or White' thanks to an advertising parody of Philips which went like,
"अगर लेना हो T.V. तो Philips का लो Black and White"
and was beamed constantly on radio.
Other than this, his two other compositions are amongst my all time favourites. These aren't the normal Michael Jackson stuff but transcendental in nature, an ode to the humanity, the best works of the 'King of Pop'.
The first is 'Heal the World'. It was dedicated to children living in countries suffering from unrest. His performance at the Bill Clinton's gala, dedicated to "all the children in the world", in 1992 is one of the best and most moving performance I have ever seen.
The other song is 'We are the World' by USA for Africa, which he has co-written and performed. Profits from the song were used in relief of famine and disease in Africa.
I have created this Mixpod playlist as a dedication to three of his best works. Tune in to listen to the legend himself.

I am so in love with these songs that these three formed a part of a previous playlist I created for my blog which had only four other songs.
Today Michael Jackson is no more. He left his millions of fans at a young age of 50, missing the comeback he had planned recently. With this an era comes to an end. But he will always remain in our hearts as the 'Best Entertainer of All'.

Image Courtesy:
http://www.topnews.in (edited)

25 Jun 2009

Sarko vs. Burqa

An ELian view

I was in no mood of writing a post right now. However, I am writing it as a response to one of my friend's post where he has supported French President Nicholas Sarkozy's stand on banning of burqas for Muslim women within the 'territory of the French Republic'.
First of all, I'll give my personal view which is in conformity to Sarkozy's view. To make my job easier, I'll just borrow his words.
"[W]e cannot accept that women be prisoners behind a screen, cut off from all social life, deprived of all identity... The burqa is not a religious sign, it's a sign of subservience, a sign of debasement — I want to say it solemnly..."
Well said Monsieur Sarkozy as long as this is your personal view. However, as the President Sarkozy, you should have shown some more restraint and responsibility.
I firmly believe that any kind of social reforms should be endogenetic in nature, i.e. from within the community. Only then can it be acceptable to the community at large. Exogenetic reforms, i.e. those enforced from outside can only lead to resistance.
Burqa or no burqa should be decided by the Muslim world. As I already said that personally, I do not favour it. However being a non-muslim, I can only criticise it and that too in a polite manner only.
What should Sarkozy do?
However, being the incumbent of the position of ultimate responsibility in France, Sarkozy has no right to air his criticisms in a high profile speech (He was speaking to the lawmakers in the historic chateau at Versailles, somewhat analogous to Indian President's address to the Parliament). At best, he can get together the Muslim community leaders and discuss the issue with them. If he thinks he has the ability to convince his fellow Frenchmen on the other side of the faith, he should talk directly to them; not enforcing any reforms from above but generating such conditions that those from within strive for necessary reforms.
This can be done by nurturing the moderates within the community and supporting them to come forward against any ills within the practices and beliefs of their community. However, utmost care should be given to the fact that such an initiative does not turn into yet another propaganda which further fuels the 'clash of the civilizations', hence having both domestic and international ramifications. Moreover, while doing so, the orthodox sections should not be totally ignored but kept in a good humour. However, if they show 'illegal' resistance against the initiatives of their moderate brethren, then legal machinery of the sate can be used against them.
Let us talk of India.
Who abolished Sati in India?
Officially it was William Bentick, the first Governer General of India, in 1829.
Does that mean this reform was exogenetic?
No, it was not. British were never interested in alienating Indians by disturbing their social structure. Their interest was only economic in nature.
It was Raja Ram Mohan Roy who forced the British Raj to bring these reforms by his continued efforts since 1812.
Same goes for all other social reforms (maybe with an exception or two) that took place in British India. Britishers only gave the legal seal to issues which were brought forward by the Indian Reformers.
I am not against reforms. However, being a self-proclaimed Empathic Libertarian, I am against their 'unempathic' implementation.
Hence, when a person like Sarkozy questions the Islamic practices in public, he alienates his Muslim citizens, even some moderate ones. Being the President of the Republic which gave the world (and India) the ideals of Liberty, Equality and Fraternity, he should be careful in interpreting these ideals in the right context.

Image Courtesy
http://www.tibettoons.com/ and http://heyhijabi.com/ (edited)

24 Jun 2009

The Monsoon राग ।

Followed by some food for thought
A Rainy Day - Drawn by 'a 6 to 8 years old' me

With the maximum temperatures hovering above 40°C (104°F), Chandigarh has been eagerly awaiting the advent of the monsoon. The showers we got on the 16th of June were, as later revealed by Meteorological Department, due to western disturbances and not pre-monsoon showers as I mentioned in a post that day.
The monsoons have always been a child's paradise. I fondly remember bathing in my balcony under the natural shower and those paper boats which my father used to make for me so that I could float them in the puddles on the road.
Doesn't that remind you of the first verse of a particular song, immortalized by Jagjit Singh's unique baritone:

यह दौलत भी ले लो, यह शोहरत भी ले लो;
भले छीन लो मुझसे मेरी जवानी
मगर मुझको लौटादो बचपन का सावन;
वो कागज़ की कश्ती, वो बारिश का पानी

Tune in to listen to the complete song

Here's an amusing but apt translation from my side (try singing it to the original tune;)

Take this money and take this fame;

Even snatch my youth if you may.
But give me back my childhood's monsoon;
That boat made of paper, that water of rain.

Before you accuse me of filling my post with someone else's creation, I'll reproduce two poems, I wrote long ago. Yup, the two are from the same childhood collection from which I have posted last time and earlier too.
I remember writing the first one for a home assignment. I was finding it pretty difficult but suddenly it started raining. I went out in the balcony and started writing. The words just flowed naturally after that.

The sun was invisible and the clouds turned black
At that time I sensed, that monsoon has commenced
The drops of rain trickled down, making the sight beautiful
Happy were the people of town, before who were mournful
Peacocks started dancing and the frogs crocked with happiness
God blessed the burning Earth as for her it was a new birth
Monsoon is the King of seasons, to say this I have many reasons
Rain is the love of God, in disguise of the water drops

After this cute little poem, here is another one, but this time in Hindi. Well, there is no anecdote related to it.

सोंधी सोंधी खुशबू आई, मन में एक तरंग जगाई
टप-टप-टप बरसा पानी, यह है प्यारी वर्षा रानी
सब के मन को स्वछन्द यह करती, ठंडी करती तपती धरती
तरस विधि को धरती पर आया, देवराज द्वारा पानी बरसाया
तालाब पर यह छम-छम करती, सबके मन में खुशी है भरती
किसान नाचें, पक्षी चेह्चहाएं, मोर नाच मोरनी को बुलाएं
खेत फिरसे हैं लहलहाते, हरे-भरे पोधें हैं भाते
बच्चे कागज़ की कश्तियाँ बनाते, फिर उन्हें पानी में बहाते।।
वर्षा बड़ी सुहावनी है लगती, कोई ऋतू ऐसी नहीं होती

The two poems are so similar in the spirit as well as structure that both can be regarded as each others translation.
In these two poems my affection towards monsoons has been expressed quite succinctly with the childhood's innocence. With time, I believe this affection goes down as rains become more of a nuisance for us. Afterall, who likes to get drenched while going to the college on a bike or get late for an exam or maybe, a date.
The biggest evil of rain for an average Indian, young or old, is when a much awaited cricket match gets abandoned due to it or India is defeated thanks to the bogus Duckworth-Lewis formula (though when the result is in our favour the same formula becomes the lifesaver).

On a serious note:
Well, we might change, our priorities might change and hence, our love for monsoons might change but let us hope that monsoon never changes. Sadly, it has changed its trend over the years and is becoming more and more unpredictable.
The havoc created by monsoons in Mumbai in recent years is fresh in our memories. On the other hand, this year, it has arrived much later than what was projected by MET Department and it is expected to be stunted in duration and rainfall.
This year's late arrival has been largely attributed to El Nino; a global periodic ocean-atmospheric phenomena that arises in tropical Pacific due to over-heating of the ocean waters and leads to the weakening of high pressure over the Indian Ocean which in turn weakens the South-West Trade Winds that bring monsoons to the low pressure belt of Indian Subcontinent in summers.
However the role of Global Warming, though not authenticated as yet, in bringing about a change in the general trend of monsoons in the recent years, can not be ignored.
The late and stunted monsoons directly impact the Indian economy negatively, at the macro level. Moreover, at the micro level, it negatively affects the livelihoods of thousands of farmers, dependent agricultural labourers and those associated with the agro-based industries and the auxiliary services throughout the country.
Such a scenario makes it all more reasonable to fight Global Warming with much more vigour and zeal.

Image Courtesy:

Self Drawn and Photographed (original)

22 Jun 2009

A Struggle that is called Life

I ended my previous post by equating life to a struggle. So, carrying on from there, I reproduce my two poems, I wrote long ago. They just reflect what I meant in those parting lines;
Life has moved on
Those days are left far behind
But one thing is pretty clear
What I started in my sophomore days
Is there to stay
As the struggle of life
To bear.

Here is the first of the two;
Success Mantra

Once in a lifetime opportunity is the life itself,
Make the maximum out of it, always thrive to excel.
Fed up of losing the battles, just don’t give up the fight,
Keep the desired destination always within your sight.

The path you choose might be very long and hard,
Just be careful as here you won’t get any wild card.
Keeping the faith in yourself can do the final trick,
Remember to take some rest in case you feel sick.

The mantra is not in just moving forward at a pace nonstop,
It is to plan everything beforehand to reap a fine crop.
With shear dedication you'll never let the fruits turn sour,
After losing all those petty battles, you'll win the final war.

I wrote these lines four years ago, on this very day, i.e. Jun 22, 2005. The reason I remember it is that I keyed them as a note in my new Nokia 6820 and the note carries the date. Sadly that means, I am still carrying the same old phone:(
Anyways, I recently found a collection of my childhood poems which I wrote when I was about 10 years old. I have mentioned it an earlier post too. There, I came across another poem, titled 'Life'.
These two poems have been written about a decade apart. In this period, the lines have gone longer and the words have grown stronger but both carry the same spirit, 'a struggle that is called life'. I'll sign off with the other one.


The life is a see saw
Full of ups and downs
A moment to enjoy yourself
A moment to frown.

The life is a reality
Its not a fairy tale
Sometimes you'll succeed
Sometimes you'll fail.

The life is a war
You have to fight
Sometimes you may go wrong
Sometimes you may be right.

Image Courtesy:
http://www.makemovies.co.uk (edited)

21 Jun 2009

The Sophomore Days

The first year at the college went by
With nothing to feel high
So when came the sophomore year
I was sure I must give a try
Got together a bunch of mates
To do something to develop our personalities
So we launched a club with a bang
And everyone wanted to join in
Made some wrong decisions early on
Those left out just cried foul
They got together to show us down
The game was surely on.
Meanwhile, on personal front
I finally made some strides
Started talking to the girl I had loved
All my life
Here too I made a mistake
Jumped the gun too soon
“Can’t we be just friends” she said
And I felt like a cartoon
Back at the club, we somehow
Gathered the strength to move on
Determined to not give it up
We started planning for a grand showdown
Again, when it came to love
I was not ready to give up as then
Kept trying to convince her somehow
In the hope she’ll finally relent
Our club event came
It was a hit
We surely felt victorious
The seeds of labour we sowed
Reaped a crop glorious
On love front victory was hard to come
But I kept trying to woo her
It went on and on with no end
Even after sophomore year was over
When I look back today
All seems so stupid and meaningless to me
That ecstasy in succeeding in endeavours
And gloom when things weren’t
What I wanted them to be
Life has moved on
Those days are left far behind
But one thing is pretty clear
What I started in my sophomore days
Is there to stay
As the struggle of life
To bear.

In the Image:
The first executive team of Panache, the club we started.
Me - top right corner.
She - keep guessing!

Image Courtesy:
My personal collection (edited)

18 Jun 2009

In the shadow of Global Warming

How can India survive this meltdown?

In my zeal to increase my blogging output, I have been writing on various aspects. However, somewhere in this race for quantity, I felt as if my blog was losing its quality and its essence, i.e., empathic libertarianism. So I thought of exploring it once again.
Climate change and global warming, it seems are the ‘in’ words. No discussion seems to end these days without a faint reference being made to them. Here, I am not going to elaborate on these discussions of the intelligentsia or the masses but will succinctly show, where India stands in all this and explore the options it have.
Global warming is a common problem for the humanity (and sadly, of the humanity and by the humanity too). Who-so-ever might be responsible for it, it has to be tackled by everyone in unison. Take the example of the global economic meltdown. It originated in USA but engulfed all the world economies disproving amongst others, the decoupling theory. We all are facing the repercussions and we all have to act together. Ironically, in the middle of this economic crisis, the harbinger of the problem unleashed a protectionist regime; unlearning the Smithsonian legacy, it so avidly advocated to others, all these decades.
Coming back to global warming, India’s stand on its mitigation has been quite myopic. It has been using its low ‘per capita carbon emission’ figures as a justification to continue with the high growth rate of carbon emissions (three times the world average, as per an estimate).
Statistically, it’s true that our total emissions per person are way below the industrialised nations'. But the simple question here is can we afford to take such a micro view. After all, who will be more adversely affected by the climate change, the countries with high population density or those with low?
When the coastal areas (like our cities of Mumbai and Chennai) get submerged and people move inwards, the pressure will be felt most by the countries like India. USA with a size, 3 times larger than ours and population, 3.5 times lower, can easily afford moving the people inwards. But can we?
Here, I put it in very simple terms taking just one example. However, to elaborate, I'll add that whatever be the negative consequences of global warming; unbridled climate change, receding glaciers, drying up of perennial rivers, drop in agricultural output, complementary floods and famines or the submergence of land as already mentioned; it will be felt the hardest by a country like India which supports a sixth of the world's population on just 2.3% of the total land mass.
Sadly, it has been authenticated that the Himalayan glaciers are fast receding and the islands of Gangetic delta in West Bengal are already loosing their land mass. Even if the recent flood havoc by the Kosi river in Bihar is a distant example for many of us, it can not be denied that the summer this year is getting a bit too hot than the previous years. Hence, our policymakers need to take a much wider view of the situation.
However, with this argument, I don’t intend to absolve the developed world from all the sins they have committed all these years. As per an estimate, today the rich nations of the world, with just 20% of world population, already occupy three quarters of atmospheric space. These nations have to take the responsibility and provide the developing world with technologies and resources to tackle their emissions.
Clean Development mechanism (CDM) under the Kyoto Protocol wherein industrialised countries can invest in projects that reduce emissions in developing countries as an alternative to more expensive emission reductions in their own countries, is such an arrangement. However, it tends to give such rich nations a license to continue emitting unabated. Hence, further safeguards are needed within the CDM too.
On India’s part, no time should be lost in developing better mechanisms for controlling climate change and the country should vociferously ask the richer nations for financial and technological aid for itself and fellow developing nations.
Search for better alternatives to carbon-emitting fuels should be taken up seriously by both government and the civil society at large. At the same time, efforts must be made to attenuate the various carbon sources and develop appropriate carbon sinks. For example, better public transport, if made available to the people, will automatically act as a deterrent to private vehicular traffic and the associated pollution and carbon emission. Along with it, demarcating 'green zones' in the city precincts or growing trees along the roads will help in reducing the impact of pollution.
There have been some welcome moves in this direction in recent period.
  • In June 2008, the foundation was laid for a 2-MW solar power plant at Asansol in West Bengal and this marked the inauguration of work on the first grid connected solar power plant in India. Other states like Haryana, Tamil Nadu and Rajasthan are also taking steps in this direction.
  • India's first tidal power project is slated to come up in Durgaduani creek in the Sundarbans in West Bengal with 90% of the funds being sanctioned by the Central government. The project is expected to be completed by the end of 2010 and will help in developing further capabilities in the Gangetic delta of Sunderbans as well as Gulf of Khambat and Gulf of Kutch in Gujarat.
  • Delhi Metro Rail Corporation became the first railway project in the world to be registered by the United Nations under CDM which will make it possible for the corporation to claim carbon credits.
  • Project Green was launched as a joint initiative of the Energy and Resources Institute (TERI of Rajendra Pachauri fame) and Bharat Petroleum wherein farmers are being provided elite planting material, technical help and training. They are also being organised into groups for local decentralised expelling of oil. This oil is proposed to be used both locally and for the production of biodiesel.
The list presented above is based on some articles which I came across in newspapers and documented for further reference for my examinations. It is not exhaustive but only indicative of the proactiveness shown in India in last one year or so.
One has to hope, more such initiatives are taken up not only to develop alternative sources of energy but also develop a common understanding of the problem and a strong commitment to its mitigation among the government officials, private sector and above all the people at large.
Update (June 24, 2009)
Nearly a year ago, on June 30, 2008; Prime Minister Manmohan Singh released India's first National Action Plan on Climate Change (NAPCC) outlining existing and future policies and programmes addressing climate mitigation and adaptation.
The plan identifies eight core 'national missions' running through 2017. These missions cover the areas like solar energy, improvement in water use, enhancing the energy efficiency, ensuring sustainable habitat, conserving Himalayan ecosystem, afforestation, sustainable agriculture and developing strategic knowledge for Climate Change.
The existing programmes enumerated include those dealing with power generation, renewable energy and energy efficiency.
It is yet to be seen if these initiatives just remain on the paper or are religiously implemented by the concerned ministries.
Image Courtesy:
http://www.fanpop.com (original)

16 Jun 2009

Beyond Words-II

Prelude to the Downpour
An early morning view from my balcony
Soon after, these black clouds bursted to drench Chandigarh with the first pre-monsoon showers this summer

Update (June 29, 2009)
The showers we got on the 16th of June were, as later revealed by Meteorological Department, due to western disturbances and not pre-monsoon showers as I mentioned here. Chandigarh finally received the pre-monsoon showers today around 10 in the night.

Image Courtesy:
Self-Photographed (edited)

15 Jun 2009

Chandigarh Unabridged

"In a continent of mindless growth, it is the thinking man's city."

That's how Times Magazine described Chandigarh in a recent issue, including the 'The City Beautiful' in the list of Asia's 15 best urban retreats. It was yet another distinction for the city of Jawaharlal Nehru's dreams and Le Corbusier's vision.
My family's association with this beloved city dates long back. My paternal grandparents, originally post-partition refugees from the Multan area of Pakistan, were amongst the first to move to the newly incepted city in the mid-1950's. My father, the eldest of their four children was just three years old at that time and others had not taken birth yet. I've spent 24 years of my life in this city and still yearn to stay as long as possible.
Once dubbed as the 'city for the senior and retired citizens', it has come a long way. However, its basic serene and pleasant tenor still persists and that adds to its aesthetic beauty. However, it has expanded in area and population just like any other city. While the size of the original city's residential part has more than doubled, its municipal boundaries extend much further. Moreover, taking into account the satellite towns which have developed around it, the combined area is many times the original planned city. An interesting fact to mention here is that Chandigarh's satellite towns of Panchkula(Haryana) and Mohali(Punjab) have been elevated as full-fledged districts of their respective states.
Chandigarh is divided into 'egalitarian' units called sectors, each representing theoretically a self-sufficient entity with space for living, working and leisure. Over the time, the profile of these sectors has also changed immensely. For example, Sector 26, originally known for the 'grain market' and educational institutions, today boasts of the best and most expensive restaurants in the city. Then there are the three southernmost sectors 48, 49 and 50 (not the part of original two phased plan) which were once nothing but barren or agricultural land, today are the most densely populated areas of the city, thanks to the burgeoning cooperative housing societies.
However, the original city created under the first phase has retained its essence all these years. For example, the gardens situated in the column of Sectors 1, 3, 10, 16 and 23 (and beyond, collectively called the Leisure Valley), known as the 'lungs of the city' have been conserved despite the increasing population pressure. I and even my father have resided in this part of the city all our life.
Chandigarh originally consisted of 24 sectors, Sector 1 to 25. If you are confused by this anomaly let me clarify that there is no Sector 13 in the city. Here is an indicative plan of this part of the city, the city's 'historic core'.

P.S. Sector 1 houses the Secretariat, Legislature, the High Court of Panjab and Haryana (these edifices are collectively known as the Capitol), Rock Garden and Sukhna Lake. Capitol has been called as the 'head' of the city by Le Corbusier. Continuing with this biological analogy, he has called the City Centre (Sector 17 Plaza) as the city's 'heart' while the work areas, i.e. Panjab University (Sector 14) and the Industrial Area (located at a distance, south-east of the city parallel to Sectors 19, 20 and beyond) have been called the two 'limbs'.

Although Le Corbusier chose to leave out the unlucky number 13 from the city plan but he still retained it in an interesting manner. Let me share this anecdote with you. If you add the numbers of two adjacent sectors in a column, you will get a sum that is either 13 or its multiple.

P.S. The basic layout has been changed to accommodate the exception (of Sectors 1 and 12).

With time, new sectors were added to the city and the city expanded southeastwards towards the Industrial Area and southwards beyond the National Highway 21 (known as Dakshin Marg, i.e. South Avenue locally) under the second phase (Sectors 26-47) and beyond that too (Sectors 48-56).
However, along with this growth in area, the city has also seen growth in the living standards of its citizens. The city has the highest per capita income in India. While certain surveys claim that it's citizens are the 'most brand conscious', other statistics put the city amongst highest in telephone density and per capita vehicular ownership.
As Times Magazine notes, "Today, the city is threatened by its very success, as Indians have been lured here in droves by its relatively high living standards and high percentage of greenery. An old vision of modernity is being replaced by the latest model: IT companies, theme parks, health hubs, golf courses and too many luxury cars."
Within last two years, the city dwellers have also started experiencing traffic jams, something which hitherto seemed alien to us. However, so many things are still the same. You can instantly plan a dinner at a restaurant at the other end of the city and you'll be back home with an overflowing belly within just an hour and a half or so.
If you happen to have the dinner at Sector 17 Plaza, by the time you come out of the restaurant, you'll be surprised to experience the silence of a graveyard in the place which is a sorts of mini-Connaught Place of Chandigarh. The night falls really early here and as such, irrespective of the newly opened multiplexes on the city outskirts and the Night Food Street, there is not much of a 'night life'. For some it may be appalling but for me that's the beauty of my city.

In the Collage:
Center- Open Hand Monument (city's official emblem - Sector 1)
Other(clockwise from top-left corner)- Rock Garden (Sector 1), Night Food Street (newly opened - Sector 14), Sukhna Lake (Sector 1), Legislative Assembly (Sector 1), Zakir Hussain Rose Garden (Sector 16), Matka Chowk (most artistic roundabout of the city - at intersection of roads dividing Sectors 9, 10, 16 and 17), Gandhi Bhawan (Panjab University - Sector 14) and City Centre(Sector 17 Plaza).

Images Courtesy:
1.Collage- http://flickr.com; http://www.tribuneindia.com; http://naturetalks.files.wordpress.com; http://www.fairskytravels.com; http://wikipedia.org; http://www.citcochandigarh.com; http://chandigarhtourism.gov.in and http://theartblog.org (edited)
2.Self-designed (original)
3.Self-designed (original)

13 Jun 2009

We aren't the only ones who copy!

The two way traffic of plagiarism

These days on waking up in the afternoon (yeah, not morning) and going downstairs to my parents' room (which doubles up as our common sitting room all the time), I am often greeted by some old Bollywood flick on Zee Classic, they happen to be watching at that time. So today, it was a Feroze Khan-Mumtaz starrer Apradh. When I entered still rubbing my sleepy eyes, I was greeted by a cabaret number picturised on Helen, 'Ae naujawan hai sab kuchh yahan'. The tune sounded familiar and soon I found myself humming, 'No, no, no, no... don't phunk with my heart'. Yeah, even I was surprised.
I was listening to a song, an original Bollywood song of 1970's which had been recently recycled by one of my favourite western band, Black Eyed Peas. It seemed as the flow of tide had reversed its direction. So what, if our Bappi Lahiris and Anu Maliks have recycled hundreds of Western compositions into Bollywood hits. This single song had wiped off all their sins. "We aren't the only ones who copy!", I declared proudly to my father.
But still to be on the safer side, I googled to ascertain if both these compositions have not been lifted from some other old Western song. Thankfully, that's not the case. Moreover, I found another website which has documented this curious case of copying. On reading, I instantly recalled that the introductory music of the song, 'Don't phunk with my heart' has also been lifted from another Helen song, 'Yeh mera dil pyaar ka deewana' from Don while the remaining song is the copy of the aforementioned one. Both these original compositions are from Kalyanji and Anandji, the much celebrated India music duo.
To convince yourself, listen the original intoductory instrumental composition from Don, the song from Apradh and finally the plagiarized version from Black Eyed Peas.
Sometimes, it feels quite irritating when I realise that a Bollywood composition I liked a lot and because of which I liked a particular music composer is nothing but a copied version of some American, Arabic or Latin composition. With that the respect for the particular Indian composer goes down (recently happened in the case of Pritam Chakraborty) but love for the particular song doesn't. At that time, I actually realise that music has no language.
However, copying also needs talent. Putting particular words into a given composition can be quite draining. I have tried that myself many a times with my songs (yeah, that's a BREAKING NEWS- I also write songs to waste my time) and it is difficult indeed. But sorry,copycats; can't give you any credit for that. If your job if difficult, even the job of a thief or a robber is. So, you fall in the same category. Better come out with original compositions or...
Or what? We'll have to survive on your recycled songs only. As it is, we can't help but love them;)
Clarification (June 24, 2009)
It has come to my notice that the song 'Don't phunk with my heart' cannot be considered as a plagiarized version because the Black Eyed Peas duly acquired the rights for both the Indian songs from the copyright holders, Sa Re Ga Ma. Nonetheless, it is a copied song, hence this post does not loose the spirit in which it was written.

Images Courtesy:
http://www.pardonmyhindi.com; http://bollystic.com and http://schnoppsoft.de (edited)

12 Jun 2009

IndiBlogger of the Month

Naahhhhhhh.. just the runner up!!!

I have had a number of achievements in extra-curricular in my college days, but this one is a bit different. Well, it’s my first success in the blogging world. I nearly got elected as the ‘IndiBlogger of the Month’. Yeah, yeah, I know I am a looser; I came second and there are no doughnuts for me. But never mind, the race was close and I lost to the deserving one. Now for those who are scratching their heads, I’ll elaborate on what all I just said.
Indiblogger is an online community of the Indian bloggers all over the world. Here we meet fellow bloggers, surf through their blogs and discuss various blogging issues in the community’s forum. Last month, Indiblogger started a contest by the name IndiBlogger of the Month. Here, every month a new topic/category will be selected on the basis of the discussions held in the forum and it will be put up for the competition.
All members can nominate their own blogs for the polling if they have posted at least five articles on the selected topic. For example, topic for the last month was ‘Politics and Current Affairs’. In the process of self nomination, we had to submit links to our five posts, priority-wise for the consideration of the administrators. If they are convinced that all the posts are relevant, our blog gets nominated for the competition. Once, the voting starts all the members can vote for the best blog of all, after going through the posts of the nominated bloggers. Those nominated cannot vote for their own blog.
So this month, the category for the contest was ‘Social Issues’. As last month, I again nominated my blog and it was allowed to participate. I was in for a big surprise. Having won not a single vote last time, I ended up with 22 votes which sealed the second position for me this time.
The winner is Indiahelps, blog of a civil society initiative formed after 26/11 terror attacks. While I am just writing on the social issues, these people are actually making the difference on the field. Hence, they are the deserving winners indeed.
While I exhilarate further, here is some cud for you to chew:
  • Total Nominations- 119
  • Total Votes polled- 257
  • Votes, the Winner got- 25
  • Votes in my favour- 22
  • Votes, the second runner up got- 17
  • Number of bloggers ending with a ‘0’ tally- 66
  • Blog, I voted for- Bitch on (ended up with 7 votes)
You can also see the results page on Indiblogger for more details. Here is a screenshot.
You might have noticed that most of the blogs on the top are dedicated entirely to social issues(or belong to NGO’s having multiple contributors) while mine is just a personal blog with my musings and reflections on just anything under the sky; social issues happen to be just one of them. So being recognized from amongst all these gives another reason to brag about.
Another thing that has added to my elation is the post which I submitted as my first priority, My 'de-reservations' about the Reservation. It is an unconventional one-my take on the Reservation policy. Unconventional, not because of the issue but because of my stand; it is pro-reservation. Here I presented my so called Empathic Libertarian view point and now that I have received all these votes, it means people accepted my way of looking at different social issues.
Here is the list of other posts, I nominated for the contest:
You must be wondering why I am blowing my own trumpet. I can hear you grumbling distinctively; “We all remember Edmund Hillary and Neil Armstrong but who remembers the second man/woman to repeat their feat?”
It’s true, I agree (though I know the answers- Tenzing Norgay and Edwin Aldrin). So while others choose to forget me and my petty achievement, let me bask or rather bath in my own glory! As it is, I haven’t taken a shower today.
Before winding up this post, I have to thank those who voted for me. It being a secret ballot, I have no idea who all voted for my blog. Moreover, they were humble enough not to intimate me after such a nice favour. Thank you so much and I hope you people return to read more.
Finally, bringing this stupid vaunting to an end (much to your pleasure I know), I’ll sign off with these epic words- “I’ll be back!”

Please don’t get terrified because of my parting words. I am not a Terminator sent from the future to exterminate the Blogging race.
Moreover, this sweet success has not gone to my head as it may seem. I am still the same old ‘yours truly’ humility-personified Vipul Grover;)

Images Courtesy:
1. http://www.indiblogger.in/ (original)
2. My own browser

5 Jun 2009

To Button or To Unbutton


Dear Reader
As I returned home after languishing in the June heat and unbuttoned my pair of jeans to relax on the bed, the need to tell a BIG truth to the world ascended over my conscience. I had kept quiet for quite some time but all of a sudden my inner voice which had been murmuring until now, shouted out loud at me. It said in clear terms-
“Hey, Vipul! Listen to me carefully. You have to fight for your kindred, for the men and women like you who have been betrayed by a private company; the company which has shamelessly borrowed the innovation of millions like you and packaged it into a new product giving no due credit to you and your kindred.”
I could not take it anymore. I felt so helpless. I felt so betrayed. I felt so exploited. So finally I thought of blogging it, in a faint hope that people who happen to read it will join our fight for the sake of humanity and spread the word around.
They say the latest fashion is to unbutton your jeans; and to make things easier they have just removed the button all together. To promote this, so called new innovation of theirs, they have roped in a Bollywood superstar who shamelessly asked his wife to unbutton him in public during a fashion show. The controversy has further added to the company’s coffers and while they reap money, we are left with nothing, having lost our classic innovation to crass consumerism.
You must be wondering who we are! Well, we are the abdominous, blubbery, corpulent, embonpoint, endomorphic, gargantuan, paunchy, porcine, rotund and zaftig part of the human race and for those with a limited vocabulary; we are chubby, hefty, plump or simply the fat ones.
From generations we have been unbuttoning our jeans to fit into them. If our waist is 40, we prefer wearing the size 38 to keep our worries regarding obesity at bay. Somehow, we pull the pair of jeans up our legs but the real struggle starts when we have to button them. Even if we succeed in doing so; though while standing or walking it does not present such a big problem and we manage to tread along; when it comes to taking a chair, we have to yield. Sitting with a buttoned pair of jeans is not easy, you see. So we simply unbutton them.
And now those corporate big-wigs say all this is their innovation. I resent. We fat people are loathed at and so often we are called unfashionable. See the irony. Today the same people have converted our necessity into their fashion. This is a big betrayal and we need to raise our voice against it.
We don’t have superstars to support our humble cause (though we may try roping in that grand family of Bollywood whose members mysteriously transform into one of us upon their retirement). However if you, the non-fat brethren of ours also join us for the sake of truth and compassion, together we can fight this gross injustice!
And before some other exploitative entrepreneur decides to come out with an unzipped ‘version’ of his pair of jeans, we must confess that when at times the going gets even tougher, we simply unzip!

Yours truly
Vipul Grover

This post is merely meant for humour and in no way intends to question the practices of any private company or malign any person or family in particular.

Images Courtesy
1. http://www.elfwood.com (original)
2. http://www.istockphoto.com (edited)

3 Jun 2009

This Day, That Year-III

Two years ago, on the 30th of May, I arrived in Delhi to start a new innings of my life after completing my graduation. I was there to start my preparations for civil services. This is the concluding post in the series of three where I am reliving those initial days by reproducing the diary entries I made on those days.
Before you read this post, it will be nice if you read the previous two(Part-I and Part-II) for the sake of continuity and to make sense out of this one.
Here, I reproduce my fourth diary entry. Read on!

Jun 3, 2007; 1:15 pm

Hello there,
I skipped a day, I know! The frequency, I believe, will go down as I am not in a habit of making diary entries. Nevertheless, I am back today. Yesterday, we started with Public Administration course. Language being used by Sir was technical, not a problem to me, but I could see many blank faces. I hope my face doesn't turn blank this early. There's an aswer answer we have to write as an assignment. Will do that shortly after the lunch.
In G.S., we started with Science; Physics to be precise. It was a kind of revision class for me of what all I studied during my preparation for AIEEE, 5-6 years back. I am looking forward to Biology and Mental Ability part in Science.
While returning, we also got issued for us, the Metro Train passes. By the end of the day, it already had a deficit of Rs. 27.
I walked a lot yesterday. First from Karol Bagh station to the hostel which is very tiring under the noon sun. Then, in the evening back to the station as we (I along with Arun, Narendra(Nainital), Abhinav(Raipur) and Robby) planned to visit the India Gate.
Walk from Central Secretariat Station to our destination and back was very long and tiring. But talking and knowing more about each other, we managed to tread along. We sat for some time at India Gate.
These days, I have been eating just too much, more than twice my normal diet, I believe. And of course, drinking a lot too, I mean water!
Anyways, going for lunch right now. I skipped the breakfast as got up pretty late, it being Sunday morning.

See you later,
Vipul Grover

My apprehensions about my frequency of writing, as revealed in the very beginning, proved right. This happened to be my last diary entry and with time I totally lost track of my 'Dear Diary'. Reasons behind it are not far to fetch.
One, I got busy with my coaching classes. The initial 4 1/2 hour schedule got extended to 7 hours and eventually to 9 1/2 hours as the date set for the course's conclusion approached and the syllabus meant for completion kept piling up.
Two, I made some good friends. Top on the list was Arun bhaiya. Then there were Narendra Singh Bisht and Abhinav Agrawal both from Law background and room partners. We four formed a close group. Rajesh(the talkative Hyderabadi mentioned earlier) and Devendra (a Marathi fellow from Nagpur whom we named dhila due to his perpetual laziness) were also good friends and so was Vijay who happened to be a Delhiite but had put up in the hostel to concentrate on studies. It's a different matter that most of the times he was back home as the poor guy could not cope up with it. However, when he was there, he was a great help as he usually gave us a free ride back and forth, the institute and the hostel on his Honda City.

Otherwise, our mode of transportation was Metro in the evening/afternoon(depends upon when we got free) and in the morning it was initially by bus, though soon we switched to auto rickshaw(which costed additional Rs.5 per head). The reason I mention the amount is because we were very particular about the money initially and tried to save as much as possible. But with time, we had to give in and give priority to our comfort and health. With time even those tiring walks from the Metro Station to the hostel, mentioned in the diary entry, gave way to a cycle rickshaw.
Talking of health, I have also mentioned about my increased diet in Delhi. With time, I actually started hating the food being served. The aloo paranthas, I praised earlier gave me a nauseatic feeling at times and the tea felt more and more watery and syrupy. Same was the case with other Nirman 'delicacies'. However, I still kept eating a lot. I still find it difficult to comprehend this paradoxy. On returning to Chandigarh, my mother was amazed at my increased capacity to devour the food. However, she revealed this only when I was back to my normal diet eventually.

In the second image:
From Top to Bottom- I, Narendra, Arun Bhaiya, Devendra, Abhinav and Rajesh sitting on the stairs of Nirman House during our last few days in Delhi.

Image Courtesy
1. http://www.lutyenstrust.org.uk (edited)
2. From Personal Collection (edited)

1 Jun 2009

This Day, That Year-II

Two years ago, on the 30th of May, I arrived in Delhi to start a new innings of my life after completing my graduation. I was there to start my preparations for civil services. This is the second post in the series of three where I am reliving those initial days by reproducing the diary entries I made on those days.
I had totally forgotten this diary of mine, till I found it lying in one of my book shelves some days back while finding some pages for rough work for a cousin. Flipping through those pages gave that intense feeling of deja-vu. I thought it would be nice to blog it. Please read the first post before continuing further.
Here I reproduce my third diary entry.

Jun 1, 2007; 10:45 pm

Hello there,
The month of June has begun and with it began my coaching classes. I was up at half past five in the morning. The sleep was irregular, waking in between a couple of times.
We had our breaf breakfast and left for Rau's at around quarter to seven.
The first class was that of Public Administration. Our teacher Mr. Maj Manoj Sharma took us through on a ride thou through the 'compact' syllabus.
This was followed by Khan Sir taking our G.S. class. A humorous person by nature, he gave us tips and suggestions on G.S.' preparation.
Back at Nirman, we had lunch, I had a good two hour sleep, then tea followed by a stroll and a little shopping with Arun.
Today the food was much better. Both rajmah in the afternoon and dal at night were not watery as yesterday. As a guy commented about yesterday's dal; 'It was like earth, 80% water and rest...'
And of course, All Aloo paranthas in the morning were also tasty. Tea served here is really good. God knows why am I making so many spelling mistakes today!
Maybe I am tired and need a sleep. Or maybe, sweat is making my fingers slip over the pen.
Ahead lies a lot of hardwork and I must prepare myself for it. What better way to do so than sleep. In Khan Sir's words even six hours sleep is a luxury. I beg to differ as I have been sleeping twice that time and cutting down by half is not that easy.
Anyways, time to sleep right now. What a luxury it will be under this fan!

See you later,
Vipul Grover

Sitting in my air-conditioned room right now, I wonder how I managed to survive those days. At night to keep my room a bit cooler, I had to open all the windows. But these open windows welcomed all kinds of insects. My room was burgeoning with a zillion species of them, most of them I saw and got stung by for the first time in my life. Once I had to live with a swollen eye for a week or so which looked pretty ugly and was painful at the same time. At other times I got rashes on my body which itched badly.
My pet song those days was-'tadpaye tarsaye re, saari raat jagaye re, pyaar tera- dilli ki garmi'. (I hope you remember semi-clad Amrita Arora dancing on the original song from some forgettable Bollywood flick.)

Image Courtesy
www.storycraft.com (edited)