Friday, May 30, 2008

A Can of Sardines maybe Anchovies...

"A Can of Sardines" is such a perfect reference to the Indian
autorickshaw that can comfortably seat about 3 adults but is usually
overloaded with double the number plus luggage. Even more scary than
this are the 10 or 15 school children that are packed into this
vehicle like anchovies!!! But I wonder, is being packed in tightly
what keeps them from falling off of this vehicle, which not only looks
like a ball but also bounces just like one on the roads and rolls
between two buses just missing being crushed by seconds?

A very nice article in the Wall Street Journal talks about these auto
rickshaws in Hyderabad, the city where I grew up riding these all the
time with my mother and with my friends. "Tiny, tinny three-wheel
taxis, known as autorickshaws, are ubiquitous in South Asia. They are
nimble, cheap and popular: A ride costs just pennies. Passengers
leaning out each side of India's crowded auto rickshaws risk being hit
by passing vehicles; they can also make the auto unstable. But they
are also dangerous, and as Indian roads get increasingly crowded,
passengers are paying with their lives. Here in the southern state of
Andhra Pradesh, autorickshaws are involved in one-third of all
accidents, even though they account for only one out of every 20
vehicles on the road.

So the cops are cracking down. Police are enforcing long-ignored laws
against overcrowding, and officials are rounding up drivers for
training sessions. Drivers must sit through an educational video and
view gory photos -- autorickshaws crushed between buses, and mangled
on roadsides -- to qualify for a free lunch," says this article but
seems like all that come out of this is a free lunch.

According to the journal, "Several thousand drivers have shown up for
the training so far, including Nara Krishna Choudary, who has piloted
autorickshaws for 25 years. But he isn't changing his driving habits.
"If I try to stick to the rules, I won't get anywhere," says Mr.
Choudary, 54 years old, because "everybody else is breaking the

The tickets, however, have forced him to cut down on overcrowding.
"The police have become very strict" about that, he says."

Now when I go back to visit, I wonder how I ever sat on these without
falling off. I hold on to my little son so tightly, afraid that he
will bounce of my lap, while my little one says whee, as though he is
going on a roller coaster ride! At least I can feel safe that I am not
packed in an autorickshaw like sardines or anchovies...

Read the full article at ---

Outsourcing is a Two-way Street

"So long as America remains one of the world's largest consumer
markets and there are enough economic incentives to move production to
the U.S., the flow of global employment will run both ways," says an
article in Forbes. The author writes, "Some pundits and politicians
love to complain about how Americans lose their jobs because of
cheaper labor overseas. But many foreign companies create jobs for
Americans by investing and operating in the U.S."

Not many think of it this way, unfortunately. Many view outsourcing as
a one way street, when in fact it goes several different ways, truly
making this world a global village.

Another excerpt from this article says, "Even Indian
information-technology outsourcing companies are bringing operations
to the U.S. Despite its far-flung location, Applabs, a large
independent IT quality-assurance provider, has opened offices in
Philadelphia and Lindon, Utah.

How could America's workforce be as appealing to outsourcers as
India's? "Companies are already seeing in Bangalore, India, that there
is such a tight labor market that their wages have gone up
dramatically in the past couple of years," Heijmen says. A more
expensive labor market, compounded by the relative weakness of the
dollar, has made operating within the U.S. an increasingly attractive
option for foreign companies.

To be sure, American companies continue to offshore all manner of
duties to other nations around the world. But experts say its
converse, foreign hiring of American workers, won't cease anytime

Read the full article at --

Wednesday, May 28, 2008

Sen on the Global Food Crisis

Amartya Sen, Nobel price winning economist has an op-ed piece titled
"The Rich Get Hungrier" in the New York Times today.

He says, "WILL the food crisis that is menacing the lives of millions
ease up — or grow worse over time? The answer may be both. The recent
rise in food prices has largely been caused by temporary problems like
drought in Australia, Ukraine and elsewhere. Though the need for huge
rescue operations is urgent, the present acute crisis will eventually
end. But underlying it is a basic problem that will only intensify
unless we recognize it and try to remedy it.

It is a tale of two peoples. In one version of the story, a country
with a lot of poor people suddenly experiences fast economic
expansion, but only half of the people share in the new prosperity.
The favored ones spend a lot of their new income on food, and unless
supply expands very quickly, prices shoot up. The rest of the poor now
face higher food prices but no greater income, and begin to starve.
Tragedies like this happen repeatedly in the world.

A stark example is the Bengal famine of 1943, during the last days of
the British rule in India. The poor who lived in cities experienced
rapidly rising incomes, especially in Calcutta, where huge
expenditures for the war against Japan caused a boom that quadrupled
food prices. The rural poor faced these skyrocketing prices with
little increase in income."

Voicing a popular concern that is causing a lot of debate he says,
"There is also a high-tech version of the tale of two peoples.
Agricultural crops like corn and soybeans can be used for making
ethanol for motor fuel. So the stomachs of the hungry must also
compete with fuel tanks."

A very thought provoking op-ed, this can be accessed at--

Tuesday, May 27, 2008

The Secret Life of A National Geographic Writer!!!

According to Reuters, "Police in Kathmandu find contraband artifacts and animal hides in the rented properties of a U.S. adventure writer. The illegally possessed goods were seized after police received a tip off. Authorities say it is one of the biggest hauls they have ever recovered. The items were found in the rented property of adventurer and writer Ian Baker, who has lived in Nepal for many years. Baker has written several books and contributed to National Geographic and other magazines."

Learning to Lead

Wow... Very Inspiring video titled, "Lead India"

Inspiring for all to take the initiative and lead, wherever, this may be.

Saturday, May 24, 2008

Akshay Rajagopal wins the National Geographic Bee

The Indo Asian News Service (IANS) reports that, "An 11-year-old
Indian American boy won the 2008 National Geographic Bee contest,
taking home a $25,000 college scholarship and a lifetime membership."

This annual contest organized by the National Geographic Society,
finds nearly 5 million students participating each year. According to
the IANS, "Akshay Rajagopal, a grade six student from Lincoln,
Nebraska, emerged winner at the contest held in Washington, DC,
Wednesday for students from fifth through eighth grades, aged 10 to
14. The final question to which Rajagopal provided the correct answer
in a jiffy was: The urban area of Cochabamba has been in the news in
recent years due to protests over the privatisation of the municipal
water supply and regional autonomy issues. Cochabamba is the third
largest conurbation in what country? Answer: Bolivia. Rajagopal, who
attends Lux Middle School in Lincoln, answered all questions correctly
in Tuesday's preliminary rounds and the final and championship rounds
where the top 10 contestants pitted their geographical knowledge
against one another."

Among the top 10 in this competition, which was moderated for the 20th
year by the 'Jeopardy!' host Alex Trebek, were two other Indian
American students -- Nikhil Desai of California and Milan Sandhu of
New Hampshire.

Thursday, May 22, 2008

On Bringing Up Children

Before I got married I had six theories about bringing up children;
now I have six children and no theories.
- John Wilmot

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

Hindu's Denied Tibetan Visas

"The Chinese government is refusing to issue visas to Hindus trying to
make the traditional summer pilgrimage to what they hold to be the
home of Lord Shiva in Tibet, forcing thousands to delay or cancel the
trip," reports the New York Times.

This pilgrimage is undertaken by many Hindu's and it's scenic beauty
and divinity put together far surpass it's arduousness.

Another excerpt--
"Starting in June, Hindus from Nepal and India embark on a multiweek
journey to the 22,000-foot Mount Kailash in the Himalayas and nearby
Lake Mapam Yutso, known in India as Lake Mansarovar. The trip, a
once-in-a-lifetime event for most who make it, includes treacherous
off-road drives and several days of arduous trekking, and is believed
to bring the traveler closer to the divine.
This year, though, the Chinese government is refusing to grant any
visas for travel to the Tibetan sites from Nepal, tour operators in
Nepal say. India's Foreign Ministry said Tuesday that the Chinese
government had cited unspecified "domestic reasons."
At the same time, Beijing has retracted permission previously granted
to Indian pilgrims who were planning to make the trip in early June.
The Olympic torch is scheduled to go through Tibet's capital, Lhasa,
on June 20.
"I was planning for the last 10 years for this trip," said Rajendra
Goyal, 48, a Mumbai-based hardware trader whose trip has been
canceled. Mr. Goyal said he was on a rigorous diet and exercise
schedule for the last two months to make sure he was fit for the
mountain hiking involved.
"A pilgrim is a pilgrim, not an activist or a politician," he said. "I
am going there for religious faith, not to do any violence."

Read the full article at--

Bollywood Meets Hollywood

"Bollywood has met Hollywood at the Cannes Film Festival, with George
Clooney, Tom Hanks and Brad Pitt signing rupee-spinning deals for big
movie collaborations," says an article in the Times Online. It is
interesting to see that India's economic growth is going beyond
traditional business and into the realm of movies, books and other
cultural areas.

"India produces more films than any other country, and sells more than
four billion cinema tickets a year, far more than in America. Now one
of its biggest companies is to become a significant Hollywood player,
it was announced yesterday in Cannes.
Reliance Big Entertainment, part of a $100 billion (£50 billion)
Indian conglomerate, is to invest in development funds for eight
production companies owned by Alist stars: they include Nicolas Cage's
Saturn Productions, Jim Carrey's JC 23 Entertainment, Clooney's
Smokehouse Productions, Hanks's Playtone Productions and Pitt's Plan B
The Indian company, owned by Anil Ambani, ranked the world's
sixth-richest man in the Forbes list, is offering an initial $1
billion investment in Hollywood. It is a vital injection of cash for
the US studios at a time when equity financing has dried up with the
credit crunch. It also offers the Americans a foothold in India.
Amit Khanna, Reliance's chairman, said: "Reliance Entertainment has a
dominant position in India but, when it comes to motion pictures, it
has been obvious that we need to extend our footprint to Hollywood . .
"Bollywood is somehow personified by song and dance and Hollywood by
sex and violence, and there is this idea that neither can meet. We
don't believe this is true."

Bollywood in it's original form has been quite popular in many areas
outside India, and it's popularity is only increasing. Then there is
the whole concept of the "melting pot", where as this article
emphasizes Bollywood meets Hollywood to give birth to a new genre of
films that are already in the making.

Read the full article at --

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

Who says newspapers are dying?

A point of discussion in the media industry lately has been the slow
demise of the newspaper industry in the US relative to the upswing of
the newspaper and media industry in "developing" nations like India.
In India within the last couple of years, several business media have
cropped up and are doing fairly well. "While gloom haunts the
newspaper industry in the United States and Europe, the business is
flourishing in much of the developing world," says an article in
today's New York Times.

Another excerpt from this article--
"Executives in India, one of the fastest growing newspaper markets,
say reading a newspaper is something to aspire to instead of a
throwback to a bygone era as it is perceived in much of the West.

"Anyone who can read or write is still looked at with a bit of awe" in
many markets in India, said Rajesh Kalra, a veteran journalist who is
now chief editor of Times Internet, the Internet arm of the Times
Group, which publishes The Times of India. The paper has a circulation
of 3.5 million, more than 10 percent higher than a year ago, and says
it is the biggest English-language paper in the world. Times Group, a
part of Bennett, Coleman and Company, is introducing editions of the
paper in three Indian cities this spring.

When people first learn how to read, they want to let people know, Mr.
Kalra said, and "the first thing you want to do is be seen to be
reading a newspaper."

The literacy rate in India hovers at about 61 percent, according to
Unesco, but the number of literate youths (ages 15 to 24) is above 76
percent, signaling that education is improving. The number of daily
newspapers grew to 287 in 2006 from 185 in 2005, according to the
World Association of Newspapers."

In fact several media companies like CN18 that only had a broadcast
presence are also branching out into print publishing to round out
their offerings, "Media companies in emerging markets, though, are
enjoying growth their Western counterparts can only envy. "Unlike the
developed markets, India is at a fundamentally different stage of its
life" when it comes to media consumption, said Haresh Chawla, group
chief executive of Network 18, a media conglomerate. The company also
has a joint venture with CNBC, as well as with Viacom, which brings
MTV and Nickelodeon to Indian audiences. "There is a huge synergy in
news gathering," and owning a newspaper will round out Network 18's
media offerings, Mr. Chawla said."

Read the full article at--

Monday, May 19, 2008

How The Richest Of The Rich Will Live...

Have we forgotten that the world is going through a food crisis and
people are starving in the same country where this home is being

Mukesh Ambani the fifth richest man in the world is building this $2
billlion home in Mumbai, when right across town exists the largest
slum in the world, Dharawi.

"The only remotely comparable high-rise property currently on the
market is the $70 million triplex penthouse at the Pierre Hotel in New
York, designed to resemble a French chateau, and climbing 525 feet in
the air. When the Ambani residence is finished in January, completing
a four-year process, it will be 550 feet high with 400,000 square feet
of interior space. The home will cost more than a hotel or high-rise
of similar size because of its custom measurements and fittings: A
hotel or condominium has a common layout, replicated on every floor,
and uses the same materials throughout the building (such as door
handles, floors, lamps and window treatments)," says an article in
Forbes magazine.

"The Ambani home, called Antilla, differs in that no two floors are
alike in either plans or materials used. At the request of Nita
Ambani, say the designers, if a metal, wood or crystal is part of the
ninth-floor design, it shouldn't be used on the eleventh floor, for
example. The idea is to blend styles and architectural elements so
spaces give the feel of consistency, but without repetition," reports
Forbes, "Antilla's shape is based on Vaastu, an Indian tradition much
like Feng Shui that is said to move energy beneficially through the
building by strategically placing materials, rooms and objects."

Apparently, "Ambani plans to occasionally use the residence for
corporate entertainment, and the family wants the look and feel of the
home's interior to be distinctly Indian; 85% of the materials and
labor will come from outside the U.S., most of it from India," so one
may argue that this is creating a mini industry in India adding to the
economy. However, to most, there are better ways to revitalize the
down trodden than spend $2 billion on an extravagant home for oneself.

Read the full article and see pictures at--

Sunday, May 18, 2008

Mango Eating Competition In Bombay

"With the arrival of summer and mango season, India's western city Mumbai plays host to the 6th annual mango eating competition. Around 30 people took part, having to eat as many mangoes as possible in 3 minutes. And if they could stomach any more, the winners were rewarded with a fresh box of the fruit. The competition was a part of the six-day Konkan Festival that started on May 06 and ended on May 12," reports Reuters.

Indian Saris For The Indigenous Market

"With India's middle class flourishing thanks to the subcontinent's 10
percent annual growth, it is suddenly less urgent to create clothing
for foreign markets — especially when Bangladesh and China can
undercut the prices — and more interesting to adapt subtly and
gracefully, Indian style.
Indian fashion week functioned as though Mumbai were the new
Manhattan. Celebrities? Bollywood stars turned out in droves for the
splashy shows, and if you have never heard of the designer Manish
Malhotra or the superstar couple Kareena Kapoor and Saif Ali Khan,
they probably have a higher recognition factor in India than
Brangelina in the front row at Marc Jacobs," says an article in the
New York Times Magazine.

This is an interesting article that talks about the Indian fashion
industry catering to it's rich indigenous population versus
non-resident Indians, who were the focus segment earlier.

Article at---

Friday, May 16, 2008

Has Baseball Arrived in India?

Baseball has never been a popular sport in India. College kids,
especially girls play some softball, but for some reason baseball
never caught on, not until now...

"Rinku Singh, 18, and fellow javelin thrower Dinesh Patel began a
year-long training stint in Los Angeles last week after winning an
India-wide pitching contest, "The Million-Dollar Arm."
The boys, from poor families, used their natural shoulder strength to
take the top two spots from among 8,000 participants.
Another teenager, Manoj Shukla, will receive a month's training after
he came third of the 27 finalists.
The winners, who were handed their visas in a ceremony at the U.S.
embassy in New Delhi, will get an opportunity to be assessed by
professional baseball scouts at the end of their one-year stint.
Their U.S-based promoters are hoping the youngsters can make it as
professionals, saying such success would boost baseball in India in
the same way that Yao Ming's move to the NBA created a fan base for
basketball in China," reports Reuters.

Over the last few years, I have seen sports like bowling, football,
triathlons, formula one racing and others picking up steam in India,
sports that many of us never even knew about until we came to America.
It'll be interesting to watch and see how baseball catches on, if it
catches on at all, what with stiff competition from Cricket!

Reuters also reports that, "India, world cricket's commercial hub, has
become a big draw for other sports hoping to tap into its booming
economy. Golf is taking giant strides and India staged its first
European Tour events this year while soccer authorities are pushing to
revive the game in the country. The Australian Football League (AFL)
announced plans this month to push the game in India in their search
for new markets."

Read the full Reuters article at--

Wednesday, May 14, 2008

For Indian Americans, its law, medicine, science and now politics too

Indian Americans are becoming more and more involved in politics. Some
of the key players in both the Obama and Clinton campaigns are those
of Indian origin. Not to mention Bobby Jindal whose name is floating
as the potential VP candidate for McCain and the many other Indian
Americans who hold political offices.

"One in every 26 Indians in the United States is a millionaire,
comprising 10% of the millionaires in the country as defined by net
worth, according to a Merrill Lynch study. Sanjay Puri, Chairman of
United States India Political Action Committee, encourages members of
the baby boom immigrant generation to use their expertise and
resources to engage in the political process even if they aren't
running for office or working on a campaign," according to an article
in Medill Reports.

According to Medill, Indian Americans growing interest in politics
reflects their maturity and standing among ethnic groups in America.
Another excerpt from this article --

"I think that puts the burden on them to give back...Being in politics
or being active in the political process is another way of helping
others achieve the American dream," Puri said, adding that he
encourages his peers to donate to campaigns.
Puri founded USINPAC to impact policy on issues of concern to the
Indian American community in the United States.
Indians are also considered to be among the most educated minority
groups. Almost two-thirds of all Indians in the U.S. have a
professional degree, five times the national average. Indians have
made significant contributions in the Silicon Valley hi-tech industry
and in the medical field.
"Indian Americans know a lot about education; they know a lot about
healthcare," Puri said. There are 40 million people without
healthcare well we need to get some of that expertise pulled in to do
some of those things."
Indians have also gradually been moving to the forefronts of politics
-- no longer behind the scenes.
In 2008, Indians like Bobby Jindal have achieved prominence in the
political arena. Jindal served in Congress and is now Governor of
"I think it's the second generation that says, 'my country, my
politics, my role.' They start stepping up and I think that's what's
happening with the Indian American community," said Puri.

Read the full article at--

Food Crisis -- Argument versus Action!

I was wondering why it took so long for the he said and she said to
begin after Bush made his statement, saying that the food crisis was
started by India's middle class.

Yesterday, yoga guru, Baba Ramdev, voiced his frustration at Bush's
statements and today the New York Times reports that, "Instead of
blaming India and other developing nations for the rise in food
prices, Americans should rethink their energy policy — and go on a
diet. That has been the response, basically, of a growing number of
politicians, economists and academics in this country, who are angry
at statements by top United States officials that India's rising
prosperity is to blame for food inflation. The debate has sometimes
devolved into what sounded like petty playground taunts over who are
the real gluttons devouring the world's resources."

As someone who lived and grew up in India it amazes me to see wastage
of food and other natural resources, not just by non-Indians but by
visiting Indians as well. The same folks who struggle without water in
Chennai, waste water in the US as though it was an eternal resource.
The same folks who watch people starve in Delhi, throw away food like
there was plenty of it to go around, the same folks who go without
power in Kolkatta, leave fans and lights on all over the place without
conserving any energy.

Instead of arguing, it is high time each individual stepped back and
assessed what they are each doing to make the problem better or worse.
Time to stop the bickering and get to some real action, don't you

See the Times Of India video, with Baba Ramdev's statements here--

See the New York Times article here --

Another recent New York Times article on this subject-

A Time Magazine article on this-,8599,1806579,00.html

Read about Bush's statements here--

See what President Bush said about India being responsible for the
food crisis here--

Monday, May 12, 2008

Gender Discrimination?!

More news on Indian Americans practicing gender discrimination!

Sunday, May 11, 2008

Vijay Mallya and Force India

The arrival of the newest and tallest motor homes in the Formula One
paddock is an overt statement of intent by the sport's youngest team,
Force India," says the New York Times. Owned by Vijay Mallya, he says
to NYT that his Force India team and auto racing can appeal to a
growing segment of young and affluent Indians.

The Times reports that Force India's hospitality suite is airy, easy
to move around in and full of smiling team members and visitors, and
Mallya says to the Times, "I am very proud of my new motor home, but
this motor home with a slow car means nothing," said Vijay Mallya, the
Indian billionaire who owns the racing team, as well as Kingfisher
Airlines, Kingfisher beer and other companies. "The car is performing,
the motor home is adding to it all, and I think that the message is
that on the track and off the track, we are serious in this business."

Anotehr excerpt from the article --
"Cricket, which is a religion in India, is for everyone," Mallya said.
"It's for your staff, for your chauffeur, for your boss, for your
maid, for everyone. But there is this breed of youngsters in India who
are proud of their success — we call them upwardly mobile and
aspirational Indians — they are earning well, they want to show their
wealth, they want to show that they are different."
The way they do that, he said, is by dressing differently, eating
differently and having different sporting interests.
"And that is where we felt, and research showed, that F1 could be
absolutely the ideal platform," he added.
But for the plan to succeed, Mallya said, the team must succeed.

Mallaya's who attends all of the teams races says to the Times, "The
leader of the team has to be leading the team," Mallya said. "The fact
that I'm here in the same uniform as the guys, walking around in the
garage and being wherever else I need to be, it inspires confidence.
It shows I'm committed. If I am demanding commitment from others, I
need to show I'm committed myself."

Read the full article at--

Becoming Smarter...

"What is perhaps most intriguing about the list in Condé Nast
Portfolio of the 73 Biggest Brains in Business is how few traditional
businesspeople are among them," says a New York Times article. One of
the Indians represented on this list is Ratan Tata of of the Tata
Group, the multinational conglomerate based in India.

In this article titled "How to Be Smarter," The Times quotes from
Wired magazine and says, "WHILE your I.Q. is basically determined at
birth, "still, there are lots of ways to get smarter — to max out your
so-called functional intelligence" at work and elsewhere." They list
ways to get smarter as below, and I quote--

-- Discover. "Learning new things actually strengthens your brain —
especially when you believe you can learn new things," Steve Knopper
writes. "It's a virtuous circle: When you think you're getting
smarter, you study harder, making more nerve cell connections, which,"
he says, makes you smarter.
-- Don't panic. "While a little nervousness can boost cognitive
performance, periods of intense stress essentially turn us into
Neanderthals," Eric Hagerman writes. Try to control your breathing.
Yoga could help.
-- Drink tea. "Caffeine jump-starts the body and sharpens the mind,"
Mathew Honan says. "But studies show that we Yanks are doing it all
wrong" by drinking coffee and high-energy drinks. "For optimal brain
gain, regular tea breaks" are the way to go, he writes. Small doses
throughout the day are more effective than one huge drink.
-- Practice the types of questions that appear on intelligence tests.
"They're supposed to be objective and consistent, but don't believe
it," Mr. Knopper writes. "By prepping for the verbal, numerical and
spatial problems on a typical psychometric test, you can boost your
-- Exercise. Studies have shown that students who are aerobically fit
perform better on cognitive tests.

Read the full article at--

Saturday, May 10, 2008

Rafta, Rafta...

"Scott Elliott's production of Ayub Khan-Din's "Rafta, Rafta ...,"
which opened last night at the Acorn Theater, is intimate in a way
that prying video cameras can never be. Set in a working-class
neighborhood of transplanted Indian families in Bolton, England, this
tale of a beleaguered honeymoon exposes its characters' foibles, and
very little of their flesh, with gentleness and compassion," says a
New York Times review.

"And the plot of "Rafta, Rafta ...," adapted from "All in Good Time,"
a Bill Naughton comedy from the 1960s, sounds like an extended blue
joke, or the basis for a sniggery sitcom: Young man takes virginal
bride home to live with the family, then finds himself unable to
consummate the marriage because Mom, Dad and Little Brother keep
interrupting and distracting him.

The title translates from Hindi as "slowly, slowly." And this
production understands it takes time for people to get to know and
accept one another. That includes an audience and a set of onstage
characters. In an era of faster-is-better entertainment "Rafta, Rafta
..." is notable for its winningly slow hand," writes the reviewer Ben
Brantley in this review titled, "No Sex, Please, We're British

For those that enjoy theater, this promises to be a good show...

Read the full review at--

How Far Can Artists Go?

Dissolving the controversy surrounding M.F. Hussains art, a court has
basically dissolved the controversy surrounding his art and says he
needs to be back home painting.

The New York Times reports that -- "A court in India has quashed three
obscenity cases against M. F. Husain, one of the country's most famous
contemporary painters, the BBC reported. The charges contended that
Mr. Husain, 92, offended Hindus with a work, above, that represented
India as a nude goddess. The court in Delhi ruled that the painting
was not obscene. Mr. Husain, who has been accused of obscenity in at
least seven cases, apologized for the painting, which he declared an
"expression of purity." He has been living in the Middle East because
of the lawsuits, but his lawyer, Akhil Sibal, quoted the court as
saying Mr. Husain "deserves to be at home, painting his canvases."

Whereas a website by Hindu Jagruti says that Hussain is painting
derogatory art of Hindu gods, why is he not doing so of his own
religion? You can see some of the paintings at their site listed
below. An article in Frontline magazine, has some paintings by Hussain
of Hindu Gods which are not derogatory, so what does that mean?

New York Times article is at --

Hindu Jagruti website is at this URL--

Frontline magazine article on Hussain is here--

Natural Phenomena Do Not Respect National Boundaries!

A very thought provoking editorial in the New York Times today by on
of the most fabulous writers of our times, Amitav Ghosh begins as

"THE word "cyclone" was coined in Calcutta (now called Kolkata) in the
1840s by an eccentric Englishman named Henry Piddington. Inspired by
the great British meteorologist William Reid, Piddington became one of
the earliest storm-chasers, besotted with a phenomenon that he once
likened to a "beautiful meteorite." His elegant coinage was originally
intended as a generic name for all revolving weather events, but is
now applied mainly to the storms of the Indian Ocean region like
Cyclone Nargis, which struck Burma with devastating effect last week.

Piddington was among the earliest to recognize that a cyclone wreaks
most of its damage not through wind but through water, by means of the
devastating wave that is known as a "storm surge." In 1853, when the
British colonial authorities were planning an elaborate new port on
the outer edge of Bengal's mangrove forests, he issued an unambiguous
warning: "Everyone and everything must be prepared to see a day when,
in the midst of the horrors of a hurricane, they will find a terrific
mass of salt water rolling in ..." His warning was neglected and Port
Canning was built, only to be obliterated by a cyclonic surge in 1867.

The phenomenon of the storm surge has been extensively researched
since Piddington's day, yet few public-response systems have drawn the
obvious lesson. To this day, the warnings that accompany a storm's
approach typically say nothing about moving to high ground: their
prescription is usually to seek shelter indoors. As a result people
tend to hunker down in the strongest structure within reach — only to
find themselves trapped when the surge comes sweeping through.

But even if they were fully warned, where would those people go?"

Read the full editorial at--

Thursday, May 08, 2008

Embracing Ones Own Identity

It is very common to hear about an identity crisis among second
generation Indian Americans. They feel lost between two worlds; are
they Indian; Are they American; Are they losing their sense of
identity; and the list goes on. It is genuine no doubt, but it is also
refreshing to see them embracing their unique identity, as mentioned
in this article in the Detroit Free Press.

An excerpt from the article,
"Ami Turner, 29, whose parents emigrated from Gujarat, India, was born
in Detroit and grew up in Sterling Heights with mostly white and
Arab-American classmates."
"I had fairly fair skin and dark hair, and a lot of people thought I
was Arabic," she said. "When I first went to high school, all the
Arabics had their own little groups, and they thought I was Arabic, so
they hung out with me. And then when they found out I wasn't, I got
phased out."
Turner has hung onto her heritage through 21 years of Indian dancing
with the group Nadanta, something her parents encouraged her do to
preserve a cultural connection.
"I'm very proud of being Indian," she said "That's what Nadanta taught
us: 'Don't hide who you are.' " It's something she has started passing
onto her 23-month-old son, Rohan, and 4-month-old daughter, Isabella,
who are their own genre of Asian American: Hapa, a term referring to
multiracial Asians. It sometimes serves as an acronym for Half Asian
Pacific American. Turner's husband, Andy, is caucasian and Catholic,
but she has preserved her Hindu beliefs, speaks Gujariti and Hindi,
and has started passing down a mash of everything to her kids --
Christmas and Diwali, naan and hamburgers -- assembling the
accoutrements that will shape them as Asian Americans."

Read the full article at --

Monday, May 05, 2008

Rupa And The April Fishes...

A truly multicultural band with an Indian American as the lead singer, guitarist and lyricist. Rupa, also happens to be a San Francisco based doctor on the side! Wow! Enjoy...

NPR reports that, "When she isn't on stage, Rupa Marya is a doctor of internal medicine on faculty at UCSF, and often draws ideas for songs from her patients' stories. She was able to take advantage of a flexible residency track designed for female doctors who may be expecting children, which allows her to spend six months working and the other half of the year touring.
"And so after my first year of internship, I went into my program director and said, 'Listen, I'll be a terrible doctor if I'm not an artist, and I'll be a terrible artist if I'm not a doctor," Marya says. "'And I need to find a way to do these things.'"

Read the full story about the band on NPR --

Telling It As It Is...

This weeks column in the New York Times by Thomas Friedman is very
thought provoking... He says, "My own totally unscientific polling has
left me feeling that if there is one overwhelming hunger in our
country today it's this: People want to do nation-building. They
really do. But they want to do nation-building in America."

In the midst of the election battleground that we have today, more and
more citizens are starting to think, issues and resolution. the
problems facing this "super power" are so many, and so widespread that
there is not much time for thinking, it's atime for action. Action
that is already happening in the rest of the world.

Friedman says, "We are not as powerful as we used to be because over
the past three decades, the Asian values of our parents' generation —
work hard, study, save, invest, live within your means — have given
way to subprime values: "You can have the American dream — a house —
with no money down and no payments for two years."

Read the full essay at --

Saturday, May 03, 2008

Monkeying Around

Growing up in Secunderabad, one of the biggest pests even today are monkeys. Even in extremely urban areas, when all is quiet and everyone is enjoying a warm breeze out in their balconies, the monkeys invade, all of a sudden. They come in huge groups of about 50, and just barge into your homes, and grab whatever edible things they can find, bananas, fruits, food, utensils and if you try to stop them, even god can't help you... Much as I am alover of animals, these monkeys are a menace.

"Forest officials in India have come up with an unusual way of controlling pesky monkeys - they've set up a park to protect them," reports Reuters, "The primate protection park in India's northern Himachal Pradesh will house more than 2000 Simian monkeys and hopefully keep a check on the growing monkey menace in the hilly state. Estimates say over the last three years, the monkey population has grown by 50 percent."

I am keeping my fingers crossed for the people of the twin cities of Secunderabad and Hyderabad and hoping that this works.

Baby Dropping Ritual...

Reuters reports that "Muslims in western India have been observing a bizarre ritual - they've been throwing their young children off a tall building to improve their health. The faithful have been observing the ritual at a shrine in Solapur, in western India's Maharastra, for more than five hundred years. They believe it will make their children strong and say no accidents have ever happened!"

Thursday, May 01, 2008

Doing Business In India

Apparently there is a new book out called "Doing business in India for
dummies"!!! In an interview with Marshall Goldsmith of Business Week,
the author Ranjini Manian had "fascinating suggestions for Americans
doing business in India—and for Indians doing business with

Here is an excerpt from their conversation --
MG -- So what does your company, Global Adjustments, do?
RM -- Global Adjustments is an end-to-end expatriate-services company
offering a range of relocation and cross-cultural services. We also
publish India's only expatriate cultural monthly magazine called At a
Glance—Understanding India. We have worked in easing the passage to
and from India with expatriates from 74 countries. Headquartered in
Chennai, we have offices in all six major cities in India: Bangalore,
Kolkata, Mumbai, Pune, and Delhi, and of course, Chennai.

RM -- Before we continue chatting, can I offer you some south Indian
coffee? Or maybe some Darjeeling tea?
(Hmmm. I [Visi] wonder if Goldsmith had any, Coffee or tea I mean...)

MG -- Why do Indians insist on food and drink? I love it myself, but
just wondered.
RM -- Indians' perception of hospitality is a bit different from where
you come from. Food is synonymous with guest relations…offering,
cajoling, and even insisting are all signs of respecting a guest in
India, and business relationships are built by this. So here is a tip:
If you are interested in doing business in India, set time aside to
have tea and biscuits with us first.

MG -- You have told me that you believe individuals work better in
teams in India. Why do you feel that this is true?
RM -- You know, Marshall, it is part of our child-rearing habits…We
[have] this collective culture and upbringing. The good news is that
we lay a lot of stress on collectivism, and therefore we work very
well in teams—and can be super flexible and accommodating. And that is
maybe why we have such brilliant software engineers who adapt to
last-minute changes.

MG -- What is the basis of Hinduism? Do you literally believe that
there was a little blue man called Krishna?
RM -- Krishna is the belief in an idea and a God, both at one time. If
the belief of America and the idea of the very nation can be evoked on
a simple flag of stars and stripes, then why not the idea of an
eternal, all-pervading consciousness that unifies us all in a blue
idol? The color of things all-pervading and endless—like the sky and
ocean— are blue! It is the oneness that is important, not the name,
form or color at the end of the day.

MG-- That makes sense to me. Can you share some facts about India that
may surprise our readers?
RM -- Sure, we invented the zero, without which the world wouldn't
have had computer codes. India is booming and has a growth rate of 9%,
and our people balance materialism with inner wellness.

Read the full article at--