Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Anna Hazare and the idea of India

 Corruption is around us and we see, hear about it frequently. Most urban educated Indians seem to value time over money and choose to ignore it as a reality of life that cannot be changed. And yet the movement touched a nerve and brought the topic into daily discussion. Several young professionals have pledged to do their part in forging alternative paths. Many more people are informed about their rights, options to avoid getting into the trap and the government was forced to acknowledge this. Discussion against corruption has entered public discourse and this has led to a far better informed populace.

Also, let us consider the example this movement has set for peasants in Jharkhand or students and workers in northeast. One may not agree with the specific methods adopted by the Anna team but by any definition, it has been non-violent. And that presents a very strong alternative to the gun culture that pervades change movements there.
In 47 years, this forced the first attempt to actually pass a Lokpal bill through the parliament.

Anna Hazare's movement is an affirmation of Indian democracy and power of people at work. It maybe an imperfect system but it is one that people care about improving and being part of. And thus it bolsters the idea of modern India.

Thursday, June 2, 2011

Cell phones - cancer risk

Finally mainstream media across the world has highlighted the WHO report about cell phones and cancer risk. There are several technical solutions out there some of which I have been using for a long time:
1. Speakerphone - If your phone has a speakerphone, that is probably most convenient and easy to use.
2. Handsfree microphone cable - Always comes with the phone, inexpensive and easy to use.
3. Bluetooth headset - Common and popular especially among technophiles. But I wonder if using them also involves any long term risk since it is closer to the ear and is used pretty much all the time. The one I used broke sometime back. Maybe that actually was a good thing :).

And in terms of usage, it is best to avoid using cellphone in areas where signal bars are few (less signal means the cell phone has to transmit harder to get to the tower) - elevators, rural areas or between tall buildings etc.And for parents concerned about children, definitely a good idea to stop your children from using the phone close to the ear as their developing brains are likely to be more sensitive to radiation.

Thursday, February 24, 2011

ISRO S band sale scam, REALLY??

ISRO is in the news of late, unfortunately for the wrong reasons,  around the sale of satellite S band spectrum to a company Davos.
In a season where the word spectrum itself is shrouded with negative aura of corruption and deliberate selling short of state assets, ISRO seems to be in the situation of being at the wrong place at the wrong time.
Some supporting facts of this case are that ISRO signed a commercial contract with Davos only after the other suitors for the S-band including Reliance backed off. Despite the fact that Davos would have been the primary beneficiary of the deal, it was a commercially and legally tenable deal.
 Perhaps ISRO and government can claim overriding clauses of "national security" or "public interest". But essentially since the government has backed out due to negative external sentiment, Davos would be justified in adopting legal recourse in enforcing penalty for unilateral abrogation of the contract. From a longer term perspective, it is very important for ISRO and government to establish clear and transparent guidelines and policies regarding such sales so that entities dealing with them do not feel left in the lurch by what they may regard as out of scope arbitrariness.

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Hinduism and Open Source

For a long time, I have had this idea of drawing parallels between Hinduism and the open source (as in the context of software) movement :
- Acceptance of diverse approaches.
- Openness to new ideas. No dogmatic "one right" way.
- Reasoned philosophical debates.
- Innovation :).

And then came across these two very different perspectives on this theme.
Josh Schrei: The God Project: Hinduism as Open-Source Faith

Siddhartha: Open Source Hinduism

Tuesday, January 4, 2011

Blood and gore on Telugu news channels

Yesterday evening, primetime news on Telugu channels was dominated by the death of Suri - real life inspiration for the character in the movie Raktha Charitra.

No news channel wants to miss out on such a sure shot means to attract audience. But surely they could have portrayed the episode more sensitively. What is the point in displaying graphic scenes of blood and violence at 7.30 pm when young children are very likely to be watching TV? There was no warning about the graphic scenes, no sensitivity or humaneness in editing or any message about requiring parental guidance.

There are several international standards that reputed news channels apply in covering such news items. And I am sure that Telugu news channels aware of the concept of self regulation, even if only tangentially.  It is macabre to exploit the killing simply as a means to boost TRP rating. If Telugu news media does not want a censor authority looking over its shoulder (or maybe they really do), they would have to do better than come up with such disgusting coverage.