Wednesday, April 30, 2008

The Tongue Painter...

"An artist in India's southern Kerala state displays his talent for painting pictures using his tongue. Ani K, a drawing teacher, drew inspiration from a fellow artist who painted with his foot. However, learning his craft was not without its dangers as he suffered headaches and nausea from the paint fumes. Eventually he mastered the art and is now able to finish one canvas in 3-4 days," reports Reuters. A determined person... wonder if this will power could have been put to more productive use?

Here's what will follow, controversies about dishonoring Hindu gods, because he paints with his tongue (which is of course considered very disrespectful) and the harms of toxic paints... Goodness gracious is all I can say!

Monday, April 28, 2008

Hope And A Little Sugar

Hope and a Little Sugar is a new Bollywood/American collaborative
movie released this April. It is currently doing the film festival
circuit. This is the story of a Hindu American who loses her husband
in the 9/11 attack. She later falls in love with a Muslim boy much to
the consternation of her father in law who is consumed by hatred
towards Muslims due to the 9/11 incident. But he changes his mind when
he receives the same treatment from Americans who mistake his turban
and beard. This change of heart is at the crux of the movie. This
movie is a reflection of what is happening is real life.

The racial and religious intolerance that is brought to light by this
film is very relevant in today's society where we are quick to jump to
conclusions bases on the color of ones skin or religious disposition.
The fundamentalists might force us develop an attitude towards those
of a particular religion. Shouldn't we be rising above all that and
stop being judgmental? What makes a person is their own personal
character. Race and religion are accessories to this character no
doubt, but to stereotype, generalize and condemn one because of what
they are wearing or who they are praying to, is grossly unfair, is it not?

Hope and a Little Sugar is on the web at--

Bollywood As a Social Vehicle

In an article titled "Bollywood No Longer A Dream Too Far for India's
Lower Castes" in the Washington Post, writer, Emily Wax discussed
Bollywood's struggle with casteism, a reflection of the country's
struggle with this chronic issue.

"Paswan, 33, is a Dalit, a member of India's most ostracized caste.
Dalits are often cobblers, street sweepers and toilet cleaners, but
they are rarely actors in the world's largest film industry. Still, as
he stood that day beneath towering billboards showing Hindi film stars
hawking expensive watches and cars, Paswan decided Bollywood was for
him," says Wax in this article, succinctly pointing out that, "It is
not easy for Indians to shake loose the cages of caste, a
3,000-year-old pecking order in which professions and social status
are inherited like eye color or height. But Bollywood, like Mumbai
itself, is a place where young Indians are increasingly finding
opportunities to reinvent themselves."

If Bollywood is the place to break this norm then so be it. It is not
surprising how many taboos are broken and norms changed by popular
media. If Bollywood can help break the taboos surrounding casteism in
India then kudos to this film industry that is often ridiculed for
their song and dance type films.

According to Wax, "Across India, Dalits and members of other low
castes are struggling to gain access to quality education and
better-paying jobs. The economy is booming, and Indians of low caste
-- often identifiable by their surnames, birthplaces or parents'
status -- want to share in the wealth, or at least the opportunity.
Some aspiring actors from low castes say their confidence is growing.
There is more social mobility than ever before, they say, and
Bollywood is experiencing its share of change."

Read the full article at--

Friday, April 25, 2008

The Global Village...

"Which company is more "American"—Mumbai-based Tata Consultancy
Services, or Armonk (N.Y.)-based IBM (IBM)? Evaluate the two based on
where they make their sales, and the answer is surprising. TCS,
India's largest tech-services company, collected 51% of its revenues
in North America last quarter, while 65% of IBM's were overseas." --
excerpt from a Business Week article titled "IBM vs. Tata: Who's More

It never ceases to amaze me how truly global the world is becoming. I
remember studying about Marshall McLuhans concept of the Global
Village during my Masters program in Mass Communications, and it now
seems like this is increasingly happening in front of my eyes.
Centrifugal forces are at work bring ideas, groups and people closer.
However the centripetal forces are doing their part as well, by
isolating cultures, traditions, and concepts further away. During this
process of self discovery, we need to arrive at a happy medium without
disrupting the unstable equlibrium that currently exists in our world.
How are we going to do that, only time will tell!

Read the full Business Week article at--

Collecting Debts From India

A new trend in outsourcing to India is in debt collection says this
article in the New York Times titled, "Debt Collection Done From India
Appeals to U.S. Agencies."

An excerpt from the article --
"Americans are used to receiving calls from India for insurance claims
and credit card sales. But debt collection represents a growing
business for outsourcing companies, especially as the American economy
slows and its consumers struggle to pay for their purchases.

Armed with a sophisticated automated system that dials tens of
thousands of Americans every hour, and puts confidential information
like Social Security numbers, addresses and credit history at
operators' fingertips, this new breed of collectors is chasing down
late car payments, overdue credit card debt and lapsed installment
loans. Debt collectors in India often cost about one-quarter the price
of their American counterparts, and are often better at the job, debt
collection company executives say.

"India will be the only place we grow this year," said J. Brandon
Black, the chief executive of the Encore Capital Group, a debt
collection company based in San Diego. India is the company's largest
operating area, with about half the company's collection force of more
than 300.

Although the stereotype of a collector may be "some guy with chains
and a cut-off shirt," Mr. Black said, collectors in India are "very
polite, very respectful, and they don't raise their voice." He added,
"People respond to that."

Read the full article at--

Wednesday, April 23, 2008

Picasso On Abstract Art

There is no abstract art. You must always start with something.
Afterward you can remove all traces of reality.
- Pablo Picasso

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

Indian Tea Goes Digital...

No more catalogs, no mare gavels, no more auctioneers screaming going
once, twice...

"India's tea markets are going digital," says an article in the New
York Times. "Just as electronic trading rocked the floors of the New
York Stock Exchange and the Chicago Mercantile Exchange, the move to
computerized auctions promises to turn the tradition-bound world of
tea traders upside down. While tea growers and large multinationals
have welcomed the promise of computerized trading, many small tea
brokers fear an electronic exchange will mean the end of their
livelihoods. The government body that sets the rules for tea sales in
India, the Indian Tea Board, sees electronic trading as a way to help
planters who have been hit hard by low tea prices for much of the last
decade. Electronic trading is supposed to result in fairer prices and
lower transaction costs."

What has been going on since 1861 will change now , hopefully for the
better, in the tea state of Assam. According to the New York times,
"The main advantage of the computerized system, according to the Tea
Board, is that buyers can bid from anywhere, without having to be
physically in the trading hall — or even in the same city where the
tea is warehoused. "That means buyer participation will be more,
competition will be more," said H. N. Dwibedi, a consultant who has
been advising the Tea Board on computerized trading. "Greater
competition ensures that the true price is discovered."

India's previous attempts at automating tea trading electronically
were unsuccessful, hopefully this time around, things will be
smoother, more to ensure fair trade for the tea traders and to revive
the dwindling markets.

Read the full article at --

Monday, April 21, 2008

The Taj Mahal

Lonely Planet author Sarina Singh gives an interesting tour of the beautiful Taj Mahal.

Outsourcing Stress

The nature and being of Indian Society has changed drastically over
the last few years, there is no doubt about this. For those of us who
visit every other year we see the rapid changed fast forwarding in
front of our eyes with every visit. Each time I visit, I notice the
latent stress that did not exist several years ago, when life was more
laid back and priorities were very different. Today, everyone is more
preoccuped with work, managing dual income households, where money is
not the issue but time is.

I saw this article in the Chicago Tribune, and I felt that it was
right on. Read this excerpt below.

"After two years working nights at a U.S. company's computer call
center, Vamsi knew it was time to quit when his 6-year-old son brought
home a school portrait he'd drawn of his father, asleep in bed.
"He was asked to draw a picture of his mom and dad, and he drew me
sleeping. That's the only way he ever saw me," remembers the
31-year-old, who like many southern Indians goes by only one name. "He
never saw me doing anything else."
Indians may have taken over three-quarters of the world's call-center
jobs, but they've also taken on the stresses of those jobs: weight
gain, depression, boredom and, often, relationship troubles."

Call centers are just one example of an industry that is catering to a
different part of the world. So many other sectors are in the same
boat. Friends and family that live in India, maintain the same hours
and schedules that I maintain on the east coast. I can see the stress
that this puts on their family life and their personal relationships.

With stress come otehr problems such as substance abuse,increasing
divorce rates, unstable children and the list is endless.
"A study last year in the Indian Journal of Sleep Medicine found that
40 percent of call-center workers surveyed smoked, compared with 7
percent of a control group, and 36 percent had more than two alcoholic
drinks a week, against 2 percent of the control group. Another 27
percent of call-center workers also reported using sleeping pills or
other drugs, often in an effort to combat the sleep deprivation that
nags overnight workers," says the Tribune article.

Read the full piece at--,0,6517218.story

Aditya Mittal - Like Father, Like Son...

"Aditya Mittal has spent a decade helping his father build the world's
biggest steel company. Will he take the top slot? Or could worries
over nepotism make him prove himself elsewhere?" asks an article in
the Times Online. The UK based paper has done a nice interview with
the son of Lakshmi Mittal, the UK based steel magnate.

An intriguing look into the life of a boy who grew up with a silver
spoon, yet one who seems so capable, level headed and down to earth

Another excerpt, "Aditya Mittal nods. "You hope one generation learns
from another's mistakes. I am my own man. So long as I am doing what I
want, and it works for him and me, it's perfect."
That trust was fostered by an upbringing where Aditya stayed close to
his father's side, visiting steel plants with him, living near the
business in Indonesia where Lakshmi started his operations.
Unlike many entrepreneurs' children, he never lost his father to
business – he was taken along for the ride. And Lakshmi, say those
around him, is good at making business fun.
But father-son bonds make family-owned firms difficult for everyone
else, not least colleagues and other shareholders. Can it be a
meritocracy? Is that why he calls his father Mr Mittal?
Aditya grins. "Well, I could hardly call him Papa in the office, could I?""

Definitely worth a read at--

The power of a brand..

Jhumpa Lahiri is no doubt a fantastic writer. What is even more
powerful than her writing today is the "brand" that has encompassed
her work. Lahiri is now one of the most powerful brands in the
literary world. Her book is now on the New York Times bestseller list.

"Lahiri, an author in the literary genre, has become so popular that
Knopf has reportedly printed 300,000 copies of her latest book,
similar to the amount of copies printed for books by popular fiction
authors like John Grisham," this is from a piece that I wrote for Idol

All the reviews of her latest book Unaccustomed Earth have been
fantastic, taking a powerful writer to even more heights, than she
could have ever imagined. Perhaps the only review that is critical of
her work with surprising logic is the one at says
"Reading the collection of short stories by Jhumpa Lahiri in
Unaccustomed Earth is like unwrapping layer upon layer of a much
anticipated gift only to find a mundane trinket in the end. Lahiri
seems to take perverse pleasure in playing bad Santa who stuffs the
stockings of her readers with coal, when in fact she could have easily
gratified us with eight beautiful presents. I am not entirely sure why
she would want to do what she does with unerring success story after
story. Is this by design or an unintended consequence?"

Read the full review at --

Read the Idol Chatter piece about Lahiri becoming a pop-culture icon at--

Some glowing reviews and interviews with Lahiri can be read at the links below--

Bollywood Arrives In Pakistan

"Indian movies were banned in Pakistan in 1965, after the two
countries fought a war. Crippled by poor production and, more
recently, undercut by a burgeoning market of pirated DVDs, Pakistan's
film industry appeared to be on the verge of extinction. Box office
sales dwindled, and more than 600 movie theaters closed.But since a
government decision in February to lift the ban on the screening of
Indian movies, the ailing industry stands poised for a rebound," says
an article in the Washington Post.

"Race" a racy new Bollywood movie was screened in Pakistan, a delight
to many young Pakistani's who are craving Bollywood films. One common
interest between the people of Pakistan and India, that should
definitely be taken advantage of.

An excerpt from the Washington Post article --
It's 12:30 p.m. and dozens of people are lined up outside the Cinepax
movie theater, waiting in the unforgiving heat for their first glimpse
of one of Pakistan's few multiplex cinemas. About 100 yards away, four
towering columns mark the spot where a former prime minister was
hanged years ago, casting a long shadow over the theater grounds.

Inside, a slice of America with Bollywood flavoring beckons. Ice-cold
air conditioning blasts across the spotless, polished marble floors of
the five-screen multiplex. The plush purple stadium seats are slowly
filling up, while an Indian raga plays loudly on the sound system.

Mushtaq, a 24-year-old telecom worker who lives with her parents in
Peshawar, can barely keep still. In a few minutes, she will see her
first Indian-made movie -- a slick thriller-cum-pop opera called
"Race," about two pretty girls, two rich brothers and a triple
double-cross at a highflying racetrack in South Africa.

"The moment we entered the theater," Mushtaq says, gesturing toward
two friends at the concession stand, "we thought we'd never seen
anything like this. There has been nothing like this in Pakistan --
that's why we had to come."

Read the full article at--

Sunday, April 20, 2008

Wear a Pancha Kachcham - wikiHow

Wear a Pancha Kachcham - wikiHow

Outsourcing Scientific Discoveries

An article in the New York Times titled, "How Scientific Gains Abroad
Pay Off in the U.S." asks the questions, "AT a time of economic
belt-tightening, might cheap science from low-wage countries help keep
American innovators humming?"

While outsourcing is the name of the game, to cut costs and increase
growth, it has been widely adopted in various segments of
manufacturing and industry. "Americans have long profited from
low-cost manufactured goods, especially from Asia. The cost of those
material "inputs" is now rising. But because of growing numbers of
scientists in China, India and other lower-wage countries, "the cost
of producing a new scientific discovery is dropping around the world,"
says Christopher T. Hill, a professor of public policy and technology
at George Mason University," says this article in the New York Times.

Another excerpt from this article--
"We shouldn't fear the rise of science in Asia and other poorer
countries. We should figure out how to take advantage of it," says
Patrick Windham, a lecturer in technology policy at Stanford and a
former staff member of Congressional science committees.
Optimism about scientific globalization is a wrinkle on the familiar
story of outsourcing. Just as United States companies have contracted
out physical production, they can do the same for scientific "goods,"
which range from formulas and ideas to the results of experiments.
In the short-term at least, higher spending on scientists by India and
China could create a glut of them in these countries, driving wages
down further and making the costs of acquiring science even lower.
"Science is the ultimate global activity," says Richard B. Freeman, a
labor economist with the National Bureau of Economic Research. "You
can outsource research."
Mr. Freeman, among others, questions whether there is a shortage of
scientists in the United States. He cites evidence suggesting that
American dominance in science will decline over time and that we
should worry less about purported shortages at home and more about
"developing new ways of benefiting from scientific advances made in
other countries."

For a while now, the critics were wary of this, of innovation moving
away to these fast growing economies of China and India. Lack of focus
on immigration policy, and increase in Reverse Brain Drain, add to
this phenomenon of outsourcing innovation and scientific discoveries,
but as the article says either way it seems like a win-win situation.

Read the full article at --

Friday, April 18, 2008

Empty Bellies In India Add to Global Hunger

Effects of the global food crisis are rippling across the world. Each
time I see wasted food at restaurants and homes, I think of how many
mouths this food, that just got thrown into garbage, might have fed.

The New York Times has been publishing several articles and editorials
on the subject of hunger and the food crisis. Todays paper carries an
article titled, "Across Globe, Empty Bellies Bring Rising Anger." The
article features examples from several poverty stricken nations, real
life people who are struggling to eat, and do not know where their
next meal will come from. The photograph itself is an eye opener.

An excerpt --
"The rising prices are altering menus, and not for the better. In
India, people are scrimping on milk for their children. Daily bowls of
dal are getting thinner, as a bag of lentils is stretched across a few
more meals.
Maninder Chand, an auto-rickshaw driver in New Delhi, said his family
had given up eating meat altogether for the last several weeks.
Another rickshaw driver, Ravinder Kumar Gupta, said his wife had
stopped seasoning their daily lentils, their chief source of protein,
with the usual onion and spices because the price of cooking oil was
now out of reach. These days, they eat bowls of watery, tasteless dal,
seasoned only with salt."

We only hear about India and China being the economic boom towns. Very
few speak about the majority in these fast growing economies who are
struggling to put food on the table everyday. The more we become aware
of issues such as these, the more obvious are the misplaced priorities
of many governments and policy makers.

Read the full article at --

Thursday, April 17, 2008

School Cricket League in New York

Samira Nanda of Reuters reports that New York City is the first school district in North America to start a school cricket league.

Tuesday, April 15, 2008

The Road Not Taken...

Two roads diverged in a wood, and I--
I took the one less traveled by,
And that has made all the difference.

Robert Frost, The Road Not Taken
US poet (1874 - 1963)

Read the full poem at --

Monday, April 14, 2008

The Million Dollar Dagger

Reuters reports that, "A gold encrusted dagger once owned by the Indian Emperor Shah Jahan who is famous for building the Taj Mahal could fetch $1 million at an auction in London. Shah Jahan's gold encrusted dagger was bought by a collector for less than a thousand dollars and is now expected to fetch up to a million dollars."

Earth has a twin?

Friendship Express Resumes, 40 Years Later

The passenger train service between Calcutta in India and the capital
of Bangladesh, Dhaka, is resuming after an absence of more than 40
years," reports BBC News. Dubbed Maitreyi or Friendship Express, BBC
reports that, "One man in Calcutta, however, is hoping to return to
Dhaka after leaving the city on what turned out to be the last train
out in 1965, when he was nine years old."

After what happened with the India-Pakistan trains, many will keep
their fingers crossed surely, wary of any unrest or religious violence
associated with this gesture of friendship.

Read the full BBC article at--

See this story in pictures on BBC at --

Sunday, April 13, 2008

Ethically Produced Bamboo Fabric!

Hear this, so now we have fabric that is ""ethically produced" and "is
not only resistant to the sun's damaging ultraviolet (UV) radiation
but also has anti-bacterial properties."

According to the IANS --
"As "sustainable" become the new global buzzword among ethical
dressers, it is boom time for eco-friendly bamboo-based fabrics.` And
now giving such fabric the extra edge are Indian American chemists
Subhash Appidi and Ajoy Sarkar of Colorado State University.

They have discovered a way of making bamboo fabric - the current
leading option in the "ethically produced" clothing market - that is
not only resistant to the sun's damaging ultraviolet (UV) radiation
but also has anti-bacterial properties.

Raw bamboo fabric lets damaging UV radiation pass through and reach
the skin. And while many tout bamboo's inherent anti-bacterial
properties, Appidi found that untreated bamboo fabric did not live up
to anti-microbial expectations.

"All cellulose fibres allow more moisture to leak in and provide more
food for bacteria to eat. That's why bacteria grow more on natural
fibres rather than synthetic fibres," said Appidi.

Bacteria can lead to unpleasant odours and unsanitary clothing, noted
the chemist, who has ambitions of creating bacteria-free bamboo
garments for use in hospitals.

The duo, who presented their new and improved fabric at a meeting of
the American Chemical Society Sunday, said they increased the
UV-protecting abilities of fabric by colouring pieces of
commercially-available bamboo cloth in a dye laced with UV absorbing

Read the full article at--

A 15 year Old Uber-Desi

When you read about this young boy, make one wonder, what did I do
when I was fifteen years old? Another answer that is better left

From IANS--
"Anshul Samar is not your average Indian-American teenager. Even as
his peers spend time playing, 14-year-old Samar is out looking to
raise half a million dollars to fund his Silicon Valley start-up.
Samar is the CEO of Alchemist Empire Inc., and invented a trading card
game, 'Elementeo', that aims to teach chemistry to students in a fun

The eighth-grader kick-started his company with $500 from the
California Association of the Gifted, using the money to develop a
prototype of Elementeo.

Samar, an Art of Living fan, presented the prototype at The Indus
Entrepreneurs (TiE) conference in the US in mid 2007, creating quite a
sensation as he made his pitch for funding.

Now he is all set to present his inventive card game at the national
meeting of the American Chemical Society - another pitch to get the
financial backing he needs to mass produce Elementeo."

Read the full article at--

A Bharatnatyam Knight

Aniruddha Knight is the grandson of the renowned exponent of
Bharatnatyam, Balasarawathi. He is currently touring the US.
Exceptionally talented, he carries the beautiful art of Bharatnatyam
to a new level with ease and finesse.

Watch his dancing at--

An excerpt from the Newsweek article--
"He is tall, slim, and strikingly long limbed. Dressed in
jewel-colored silk tunics and antique ornaments that are family
heirlooms, he looks more like a handsome young maharaja than a
traditional South Indian dancer. But at 27, Aniruddha Knight is the
ninth generation heir of a 200-year-old family of professional dancers
and musicians from Chennai, India. He is also half American. His
father, Douglas Knight, married into this artistically rich family
when he studied classical drumming on a South Indian mridangam at
Wesleyan University, where Aniruddha's late grandmother--T.
Balasaraswati, India's prima danseuse--and her two musician brothers
had taught since 1962. This spring, Knight is touring the Northeast
with his six-member musical ensemble (including his father) and new
works in a program entitled "From the Heart of a Tradition."

That tradition is bharat natyam, one of India's six major--and
distinct--classical dance styles. It is taught to every middle-class
girl in India and now, with immigrant teachers and establishment of
dance schools across suburban America, it is vigorously practiced by
Indians and Americans alike. However, the version that Knight dances
is stylistically unique. It originated as a temple offering performed
by young women who were dedicated to serving God by retelling ancient
Hindu myths through music and dance in the temple courtyard. It was
art in the service of religion, an act of worship, not popular
entertainment. Eventually, some of the dancers were inducted by local
princely families into becoming court performers. A stigma attached to
the professional dancer that only disappeared when dance was
recognized as a national art form at the time of India's independence
in 1947, when the patronage of all dancers and musicians was taken
over and sanctified by the secular government.

It was in this climate that Balasaraswati was recognized as the
greatest Indian dancer of all time. Dance for Knight, as for his
grandmother, is spontaneous, not rehearsed as the music is: as the
ensemble sings a composition, he improvises movements; he follows the
music, even joins in. He takes the lead, giving his accompanists a cue
to move to the next line of text. In short, there is constant
communication between dancer and the accompanists. The star of the
show is first the music, then the dancer, who still uses the old
compositions handed down as prayer, a love song to God. As Bala
describes it, the aim is to create joy through beauty--a transporting
ecstatic experience that is shared by dancer and audience through
melody, rhythm and mime. Done right, the dancer could transport the
audience through a near out-of-body experience into a rapturous

Read the full newsweek article at--

Saturday, April 12, 2008

Hair Color Kills

We all know that coloring your hair is not good for health, because
our skin absorbs some of the harsh chemicals in hair color. But this
news item below, takes it to a new level. Hair color can kill you!!!

The New York Times reports that, "The authorities in Uttar Pradesh
State have banned the sale of a locally made hair dye after
debt-ridden farmers were found to be drinking it to end their lives, a
state official said. At least 11 farmers have died from swallowing the
cheap dye in a drought-hit part of the state in the last three months,
he said. In parts of western and southern India, the dire economic
state of farmers has been blamed for thousands of suicides in recent

Link --

Friday, April 11, 2008

India Will Limit Rice Exports...

First it was lentils, and now it is rice...

The International Herald Tribune reports that, "Vietnam and India on
Friday tightened limits on rice exports, joining Egypt and Cambodia in
trying to conserve scarce supplies for domestic consumption at the
risk of triggering further increases in global rice prices, which have
roughly doubled since the start of this year.

Soaring prices for rice, a staple for nearly half the world's
population, are already causing hardship across the developing world,
particularly for urban workers. Together with rising prices for other
foods, from wheat and soybeans to pork and cooking oil, higher rice
prices are also contributing to inflation in many developing

When my family and friends from India visit the US they always talk
about how Basmati rice, cashews and some other staple products, that
are grown in India are very expensive in India and sometimes not even
available domestically, because most of the best quality produce is
exported to the US. This has been going on for a while, it was just a
matter of time before it became necessary to make a rigid move like

Read the IHT article at--

Shouldn't Education Be Based on Merit?

When will we abolish quota based education and focus solely on a merit
based education system in India?

The New York Times reports that, "India's Supreme Court upheld a
government program to double the number of seats in public colleges
and universities, including the most elite institutions, set aside for
the lowest castes on the Hindu social ladder and indigenous tribes.
India has long set aside 22.5 percent of college seats to such
students. Now an additional 27 percent of seats must go for a group
the bureaucracy calls "other backward classes," or O.B.C.'s. When they
were proposed in 2006, the new quotas led to clashes between
upper-caste students, particularly medical students, and the police.
Many doctors went on strike, closing hospitals across the country."

These kinds of rulings only make the rifts between the various castes
wider, and do not in any way bridge them. Providing financial
scholarships for the needy is one way to boost education among the
downtrodden, but blindly assigning a percentage of college seats to a
group, is another. It is about time and the caste system, quota based
education were bygones.

American Karma!

Sunil Bhatia has written a book called "American Karma" one which
talks about the pros and cons of Indians immigrating to America. this
is from the point of view of the Indian immigrant and how they adapt
themselves. An article in The providence Journal analyzes this book.

"In American Karma, a scholarly book published by New York University
Press, Barrington resident Sunil Bhatia profiles this expatriate
community, describing the architects, professors, teachers, school
counselors, social workers, professors and physicians who made new
lives for themselves in this country following passage of the
Immigration and Nationality Act of 1965.

Although American Karma focuses on the Indian community in
southeastern Connecticut, Bhatia says, "it is important to mention
that the Indians in southeastern Connecticut are not very different
from Indians in other middle-class communities across America."

During the 1980s and 1990s, he says, the highly educated Indians who
came to the United States acquired "model minority status," becoming a
kind of multicultural success story."

Bhatia goes on to write about some of the difficulties faced by Indian
Americans, who sometimes feel like a fish out of water and try to
become amphibious.

"But the picture Bhatia paints isn't entirely positive.

American Karma details the often painful compromises that many highly
educated Indian professionals made in their daily lives, compromises
that Bhatia believes have had a profound impact on their identities.

"They felt that they were highly valued at work. They had made a mark
for themselves. They had succeeded," Bhatia says.

Outside work, the situation was different.

"Socially, there was a sense that they did not really belong."

Read the full article at--


The Metropolitan Opera House's production of Philip Glass's
"Satyagraha" will open today. (Go to for full details
on this)

An excerpt from a New York Times feature on this --
"While lasting only a few minutes, the scene stands as perhaps the
most striking moment in the Met's production of "Satyagraha," Philip
Glass's 1979 opera about Mohandas K. Gandhi's years in South Africa.
It sharply illustrates the central design idea behind this production:
how the elaborate use of simple materials can create a
musical-theatrical world. Phelim McDermott and Julian Crouch, the
artistic directors of the Improbable theater company in London, are
the director and the designer of the opera, which has its Met debut on
Friday and runs through May 1. The tottering puppets are created from
newspaper, fiberglass kite poles, light cotton cloth and lots of latex
glue. The sets are made largely of corrugated metal. Wicker baskets
and brooms become a crocodile. Chairs held over faces become symbolic

"We decided we wanted to use very humble materials in the making of
the opera," Mr. Crouch said. "We wanted similarly to take these
materials, maybe associated with poverty, and see if we could do a
kind of alchemy with that, turn them into something beautiful."

The dominant medium is newsprint. Coated newspapers paper the stage
floor. Balled-up pages represent stones thrown at Gandhi. Text is
projected on newspaper sheets held up by actors. News pages are
manipulated into a Hindu goddess. Long strips of attached pages ribbon
across the stage, representing a printing press. (Maybe the newspaper
industry doesn't have to die after all.) "It's an ordinary object
that, when transformed, becomes magical," Mr. McDermott said.
"Ordinary simple actions, when done with commitment, become something
powerful," he said, a quality of Gandhi's idea of "satyagraha," a
Sanskrit term that can be translated as "truth-force" and stands for
Gandhi's principle of nonviolent resistance."

Read the full article at--

See the video of Satyagraha at--

Read the New York Times Review of this Opera at --

Other events related to this that sound very interesting--
-- 'GANDHI, GLASS AND SATYAGRAHA' This exhibition with photographs
from the production as well as historical photographs and artwork will
be on view through April 19 at the New York Public Library for the
Performing Arts.
-- FORUM Gandhi's grandson, Rajmohan Gandhi, will be among those
participating in "Satyagraha: Gandhi's 'Truth Force' in the Age of
Climate Change," a free forum with discussions of the philosophies of
Gandhi, the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., Thoreau and Emerson on
Sunday at 7 p.m. at the Cathedral Church of St. John the Divine

Thursday, April 10, 2008

Reviving Tourism in Kashmir

Over the last few years, Kashmir, one of the most beautiful parts of
the world, has been struggling, with Pakistan on one side and China on
the other staking claim on her land. What was once one of the topmost
tourist destinations in the world, was shunned for several years
because of the terrorism and unrest in the region. Nestled in the
Himalayas, with some of the rarest natural beauty, this region is
being promoted as THE destination for golfers!

" Naeem Akhtar has an improbable task in the Indian government's drive
to revitalize Kashmir after 18 years of militant violence: rebranding
this heavily militarized Himalayan region as a global golfing
destination," says an article in the New York Times.

"Mr. Akhtar, who is permanent secretary to the government tourism
department, the most senior official in charge of tourism in Kashmir,
readily admits he has a difficult challenge. "We face a lot of
uncomfortable questions," he said last month, staring out at the empty
fairways of the Royal Spring Golf Course here. "Tourists travel to
relax. A tourist doesn't want to come to a place that creates
apprehension in his mind." Nevertheless, lyrical brochures declare the
state to be a "golfers' paradise," and officials have been dispatched
to tourism conferences in London, Berlin and Dubai to persuade the
world of Kashmir's golfing attractions," says the article in the

Read the full story at--

Asia Wary of a Democratic Regime?

"Democracy at work is riveting. In Hillary Clinton, Barack Obama and
John McCain, America has produced three remarkable candidates. It's
not surprising that a recent BBC World Service global survey showed
positive views of the United States increasing for the first time in
years. The rise was to 35 percent from 31 percent a year earlier.
Negative views fell to 47 percent from 52 percent," says Roger Cohen
in a New York Times ediorial today. However, he believes that Asia is
wary of a democratic government coming to power.

He writes, " Asia, there's a different view. The three largest
powers — China, India and Japan — have all had reasons to view Bush
with favor, and all have nagging fears about a Democratic
administration. At a deeper level, they've felt comfortable enough
with a United States playing power politics, while that
strut-your-stuff style has appalled consensus-driven Europeans.

I don't mean the Iraq invasion pleased Asians. It didn't. But China
and India rising see the world more in terms of classic
balance-of-power equations, driven by the might and self-interest of
nations, than through the post-sovereign European prism of
international institution-building and soft power. Already, China and
India are jostling for dominance, not least in the Indian Ocean and

Read the full essay at --

Tuesday, April 08, 2008

India Could Help Boost Airline Slump

Airlines are in a lot of trouble, with soaring gas prices, safety and security concerns. However, "growing passenger traffic between fast growing China and India may be able to cushion the blow for some Asian carriers, reports Reuters.

Monday, April 07, 2008

Randy Pausch's Farewell Lecture

If you have not heard about Randy Pausch and his last lecture, then here is your chance to look at it and to reevaluate your life, like I am mine!

Carnegie Mellon Professor Randy Pausch, who is dying from pancreatic cancer, gave his last lecture at the university Sept. 18, 2007, before a packed McConomy Auditorium. In his moving talk, "Really Achieving Your Childhood Dreams," Pausch talked about his lessons learned and gave advice to students on how to achieve their own career and personal goals. For more, visit "Journeys" are special University Lectures in which Carnegie Mellon faculty members share their reflections on their journeys -- the everyday actions, decisions, challenges and joys that make a life.

You should make some time to watch the complete lecture here, about 1 hr and 20 minutes, this is really worth your time --

21 And The World is Yours...

ABC News is doing a four part series on "21 And the world is yours"
The plot for this series is -- "At 21, how did you view the world? The
limitless possibilities... The road ahead filled with so many
unexpected turns... Four 21-year-olds living worlds apart in Egypt,
India, Kenya, China. What does the future look like to them? And how
does that compare with today's Americans at 21?"

Today they featured India and here is a short recap of what happens in
this clip.
"We reporters are taught to be skeptical of the people we cover. It's
hard, however, not to feel warmly toward Nisha Mehta. She's giggly,
stylish and warm -- and when she turns her gale-force smile on you,
it's irresistible. She's also tough, independent and has a regal
bearing. She's simultaneously someone you want to hug and someone not
to be trifled with
At age 21, Mehta has five people -- all older than she is -- working
under her. And her boss says the sky's the limit.
This is a seismic change in a country where women have, until
recently, been restricted to traditional family roles. And it's a
change that has transpired within one generation in one household."

Watch this full news clip at --

Go to their Facebook page at --

Female Executives Outperform Males When Taking a New Job

The Boston Globe reports that a Harvard study suggests female
executives outperform males when taking a new job! Is that an
interesting finding or what. Makes me wonder what they have to say
about female executives outperforming male execs overall, or for that
matter females outperforming males? Hmm, that sure is food for

Here is an excerpt from this article --
"Second acts often fail. And in business, when ambitious executives
leap from one perch to another for money or glory, the maxim might as
well be: The bigger they come, the harder they fall
Yet there is one group of job-hopping business leaders that is more
likely to succeed. New research from Harvard Business School suggests
that high-ranking women develop "portable skills" that enable them to
better make a transition. In contrast to male stars, star women tend
to perform just as well at a new company as their original one.
What are these portable skills? One is a talent for building external
networks - of clients, associates, and other professionals outside
their organizations - that remain intact when they depart. Another is
a capacity to size up a company's management culture and values, and
determine whether they fit, before signing on.
"Women, because they are often marginalized and have to fight
institutional barriers, are much pickier," Harvard assistant professor
Boris Groysberg, who outlined his findings in last month's Harvard
Business Review, said in an interview. "They ask questions about
culture, they ask questions about flexibility. They seek objective
performance measures so they're not depending on politics."

Read the full article at--

Sunday, April 06, 2008

Is it right to choose the sex of your child?

Does the "right to choose include choosing to eliminate unwanted
daughters?" This question has played on my mind for a while now.

I have always been one who believes in the "right to choose" with certain strict clauses.Having had the unfortunate opportunity of researching female infanticide in rural areas of India, as part of my college studies, I know and understand the terrible things that happen to women who bear female children, their day old female infants and the female fetus.

Having said that, it was very interesting to see this op-ed in the
Boston Globe today by Jeff Jacoby titled "Choosing to eliminate
unwanted daughters" --
"Population experts have documented for years the use of abortion for
sex selection in regions of the world where sons are more highly
prized than daughters.
The problem is particularly acute in Asia, and especially in China and
India, the world's two largest countries.
The natural sex ratio at birth is slightly male-biased at roughly
1.05-to-1, meaning that about 105 boys are born for every 100 girls.
But in China the current ratio at birth is about 120 boys per 100
girls - and in more prosperous parts of the country, such as Guangdong
and Hainan, the imbalance has reached an even more lopsided
In India, census data from 2001 show that among children younger than
6, there are just 927 girls per 1,000 boys. There too, the greater the
prosperity, the greater the discrepancy: In the high-income state of
Punjab, notes Joseph D'Agostino of the Population Research Institute,
there are only 793 girls for every 1,000 boys. He cites a report by
UNICEF, which calculates that "7,000 fewer girls are now born in India
each day than nature would dictate, and 10 million have been killed
during pregnancy or just after in the past 20 years."
There is nothing new about the high cultural premium placed on sons in
developing countries. What is relatively new is easy access to cheap
ultrasound scans for determining the sex of an unborn child, and the
availability of inexpensive abortions for parents who don't want a
baby of the "wrong" sex."

Read the full editorial at--

Saturday, April 05, 2008

Cricket Arrives in New York City

Usually it is the desi crowd that plays cricket in small groups.
Universities like MIT and others have their own little cricket temas,
but this is a little larger than all that.

The New York Times reports that, "Cricket, which its fans say is the
world's second most popular sport, is played by millions of people
around the globe. But it is pursued seriously by probably fewer than
1,000 people in New York City, where the game is played in relative
obscurity, its matches confined to the corners of the city. On
Wednesday, the Department of Education inaugurated cricket as its
newest league sport, with about 600 high school students playing on 14
teams during a 12-game season. The first matches, held in Queens,
featured teams from John Adams, Richmond Hill, Aviation and Newcomers
High Schools. The Department of Education said New York is the only
public school system in the nation to offer competitive cricket.

Another excerpt from the New york Times article --
"Cricket is not a newcomer to the city. The New York Times once
covered local players as critically as the sports pages now write
about the Yankees or the Knicks. On May 6, 1900, The Times reported:

"The first regular cricket games of the season were played yesterday,
and notwithstanding that the weather was rather cold for cricket, and
that the grounds were not in the best condition, several enjoyable
games took place. At Prospect Park, the Manhattans had the Nelson
Lodge, Sons of St. George, as opponents, and gained an easy victory by
98 runs. Several of the Nelson men shaped up very well, but they
exhibited a lack of practice."

Cricket was carried across the world by the British Empire, but never
caught on in the United States, where it is most popular among
immigrants from nations like India, Pakistan and Jamaica that were
once ruled by Britain. Most of the city's adult and high school
players are immigrants from South Asia and the Caribbean, or their

Read the full article at -

Aamir Khan to carry Olympic Torch

The BBC reports that Bollywood actor, Aamir Khan will carry the
Olympic torch through India even though he does not support China's
crackdown on Tibetan demonstrators.

According to the BBC, "Aamir Khan said in his blog that many of his
fans had asked him not to take part in carrying the torch through the
Indian capital Delhi later this month. "I would like to state that I
have the highest regard and respect for the struggle that the people
of Tibet are going through. I completely empathise with them," he
said. "I request those of you who have asked me to stay
understand that when I do run with the is not in support of
China. "In fact it will be with a prayer in my heart for the people of
Tibet, and indeed for all people across the world who are victims of
human rights violations."

According to The Hindu, "The actor is the brand ambassador of
Coca-Cola, which is the global partner of the Beijing Olympics 2008,
and will carry the torch when it passes through India. The others who
will get their hands on the Olympic torch as it passes through India
are Dr Kiran Bedi, Dr Narayan G. Hegde of Bharatiya Agro Industries
Foundation, World Wildlife Fund of India's Secretary General and CEO,
Mr Ravi Singh and Coca-Cola's President and CEO, Mr Atul Singh.
Environment champion working at the grass root level, Mr Y. Subhash
Chandra Reddy, is also amongst the torch bearers who will run through
New Delhi when the Olympic torch, on its cross-continent journey,
arrives here on April 17."

Read the full BBC article at --

THe Hindu article can be read at --

Friday, April 04, 2008

A Peek at the Indian Peoples Phone

India is by far one of the fastest growing consumers of cell phones. The new peoples phone is going to be even more accessible especially for the lower income groups, and it will be interesting to see how this is adopted.

"The new cellphone model unveiled at the Mobile World Congress in Barcelona will sell for below $20 per device. The aim is to meet surging demand for cheap phones in emerging markets, beginning with India but Spice is also targeting the high end of the market," reports Reuters.

For Other Kite Enthusiasts like myself...

"Teams from around the world show off their kites in the annual kite festival in Phetchburi. Kites of all shapes and sizes decorated the sky above the seaside resort of Phetchburi, around 120 kilometres from Thailand's capital, Bangkok. The kite festival is an annual event where designers and enthusiasts from around the world can showcase their creations. Among the weird and wonderful examples was the Australian team's giant octopus," reports Reuters.

A taste of India in Stone Mountain

"Though they are thousands of miles away from their native India,
Amitabh and Meenu "Mini" Sharma feel at home in Atlanta," says an
article in the Atlanta Journal Constitution. I would too if I had a
home like this!!! It's a nice article, and a nice home, a little
extravagant for my taste but nice.

An excerpt --
"The Sharmas moved to Atlanta 14 years ago. Amitabh Sharma is from
Agra — home of the Taj Mahal — and his wife hails from New Delhi. They
own two IT consulting companies, and work from their DeKalb County
home, which is near the Gwinnett County line. Amitabh Sharma is active
in Indian-American associations. He is past president of the
Indian-American Cultural Association, a current director in the
National Federation of Indian-American Associations, and past director
of the Asian-American Chamber of Commerce in Atlanta."

When they decided to build, they found the lot and the builder. Then,
the Sharmas served as the architects.
The couple, who are practicing Hindus, asked the builder to create a
room for a Hindu temple. The room has an east-facing window, which is
important for feng shui, Amitabh Sharma said. "It attracts a lot of
energy from the sun," he said. "We pray every morning." Within the
temple room, the altar and idols are made of Jaipur marble from India.
It's so heavy that "four people can barely lift it," Amitabh Sharma

Read the full article at --

Wednesday, April 02, 2008

Really Nice GE Ad...

A new kind of balloon!

A new kind of balloon in India, thanks to health workers who are shy
to talk about the benefits and use of condoms.

ANI reports that, "Many claims are being made by the Governments, both
at the Centre and the States about distribution of condoms in their
campaign against the spread of HIV/AIDS and for population control.
But the fact is that villagers are unaware how to use them. The health
workers are shy to discuss how and why the condoms are used because of
social taboo."

Watch this video at--

Water Yoga

Yoga is not just becoming a fashion and a fad but it's varied benefits
are also slowly being realized. Yoga in it's many forms is being used
for various applications. Vipaasana, a form of yoga is being used for
anger management in prisons, and to change the minds of hardened
criminals. Now this.

ANI reports that another form of Yoga, "Water Yoga" is being used to
treat those that are affected by HIV. They say that, "HIV positive
tested persons in India's southern Chennai are taking part in a Yoga
camp to practice 'Jal or Water yoga' which they believe would help
them in leading a better life. According to the experts, yoga 'asanas'
or exercises in water have many benefits attached to them including
increasing the longevity of life by improving the immunity system of
the body."

Watch the video at --

Tuesday, April 01, 2008

What Got Him Into The Guinness Book!

The things that people do to stand out! Look at what this man from Kanpur sports, that got him into the guinness book of world records!

Reuters reports that, An Indian man makes it into the Guinness Book of World Records for a hirsute feat he complains isn't appreciated enough. Growing hair out of your ears to a head-turning length isn't everyone's idea of an attractive look. But it's got a man from India's northern Kanpur a long-standing entry in the Guinness Book of World Records."

Relics of a French Colony

One of the nicest places I have ever visited is the Aurobindo Ashram
in Pondicherry. It is like a completely serene, calm and divine,
self-sufficient island in the middle of this sea of humanity. The New
York Times did a really nice travel story about Pondicherry, where
French is spoken and the french colonists once lived. RElics of the
catholic churches and french influences remain making it a very
charming town.

An excerpt from the Times article --

"As colonies go, Pondicherry was not exactly a success story. Almost
immediately after the French set up this lovely nugget on the Bay of
Bengal in 1674, it was captured by the Dutch, retaken by its founders,
then sacked and destroyed by the British. And though the French kept
rebuilding it, Pondicherry never became more than a stopover on the
way to Indochina. Even after Pondy, as it is nicknamed, rejoined India
— late, in 1956 — it languished, out of step with the rest of the
nation. In other words, for most of its history, Pondicherry was a
backwater, in decline.

No more. Today, Puducherry, as it is officially known but rarely
called, is capitalizing on a glammed-up version of that history, and
emerging as an artsy, design-savvy destination with a quasi-Gallic
approach to eating, drinking, shopping and relaxing. It's like India
seen through a French lens, or maybe vice versa.

On the southeastern coast, about 150 miles south of Chennai,
Pondicherry is, for an Indian city, tiny. Just about a million people
live there, mostly in the types of charmless, three- and four-story
concrete buildings erected all over the poorer parts of Asia. But near
the Bay of Bengal, the cityscape changes drastically. Soon you see
tile roofs and wooden shutters, balconies and colonnades, wide brick
streets and pastel Catholic churches — the neighborhood once known as
the Ville Blanche, or White Town, where the colonists lived.

Here, under a very un-Indian blanket of tranquillity, Pondy is
exploding. In less than a decade, the local branch of the Indian
National Trust for Art and Cultural Heritage has contributed to the
restoration of dozens of historic structures, from private homes to
former governors' residences (a description apparently applied to half
the buildings in Pondicherry)."

Read the full article at--

Indias Burgeoning Fashion Industry

Indian Fashion is more popular than ever. as is evident with the
Kurti's, henna, decorative bindi's, etc. that are fast getting into
the mainstream worldwide. Indian designers are showing their wares and
Mumbai is becoming a hotbed for South Asian fashion. Recentlythe Lakme
fashion week in Mumbai drew a lot of attention from Bollywood stars
and many other pop culture icons, and prominent buyers from all over
the world.

From the International Herald Tribune--
"For Indian fashion is aiming to go beyond Bollywood and on to the global stage.
This vibrant city, its spirit caught between the energy of New York
and laidback Los Angeles, is determined to establish itself as India's
hot and hip fashion capital. It may be competing with Delhi, the
country's political epicenter, which held its own fashion week earlier
this month, but the Lakme show (named for the beauty giant that is the
main sponsor) is showcasing fresh talents.
That included the Gen Next show on Monday, when eight designers showed
imaginative work, with a focus on pleating and layering, and all with
detailed craftsmanship that would be rare to find at sophomore level
in Western countries."

Some very interesting questions are posed in this IHT article about
the future of Indian fashion--
"For India itself, the question is how and in which direction fashion
will grow. Should the subcontinent play down its own profound culture
to aim creatively at the western markets?
Or should it look inward and feed its home market for intrinsically
Indian clothes, often destined for weddings and with a resonance to
other countries with a similar aesthetic such as Dubai (where Malhotra
has a store)?
Or could India ultimately become the hub of a new pan-Asian fashion
movement setting a 21st-century fashion aesthetic?"

Read more on this at--

HIghest Meteorological Honor for Jagdish Shukla

From the IANS--
"Jagadish Shukla, an Indian American scientist, has been awarded the
52nd International Meteorological Organization (IMO) Prize, for his
research on monsoons and establishing a scientific model for climate
prediction. Considered the highest international award in the field of
meteorology, the prestigious award was presented to Shukla by
Alexander Bedritsky, president of the World Meteorological
Organization (WMO) at a ceremony at the US National Academy of
Sciences last week.

Previous winners of the annual prize included several noted scientists
like Lennart Bengtsson (2006), Shukla's long-time collaborator, as
well as Jule Charney (1971) and Edward Lorenz (2000), Shukla's
doctoral advisers at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, where
he earned his Sc.D. in 1976.

Shukla, distinguished professor of George Mason University, was given
the award in recognition of "…his research on monsoons and coupled
ocean-land-atmosphere interactions establishing a scientific basis for
predictability of climate in the midst of chaotic weather."

Read more about this and Shukla and his work at--