Thank you Pune Municipal Corporation for the nice new footpaths

It feels good to finally be writing something positive about the Pune Municipal Corporation. Have you noticed the number of new footpaths being created and the resurfacing of some old ones?

The new footpaths opposite Deccan Gymkhana and BalBharti on Senapati Bapat Road, the resurfacing of the Bhanadarkar Road stretch are very heartening and reassuring changes.

Footpaths I think are the key to any city being well organized. The reason why Kothrud seems such a mess is the lack / absence of footpaths and trees by the road side.

I hope this is just the beginning of a PMC drive to create new footpaths and improve existing ones. Please also plant trees by the road and ensure that these nice new footpaths don’t end up being hawker zones.

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In India, suffering is just a part of life!

If there’s one thing that has an instant and direct relation to development, that’s power supply. The new economy is completely driven by electricity. Switch off the power supply and business and growth comes to a stand still. Considering this, you would expect decision makers to consider electrictiy supply as an item of critical importance.

That might be true in some countries but definitely not in India. The power supply situation just keeps going from bad to worse. You have power cuts for several hours every day in most cities across India. The situation is especially bad in Maharashtra.

India supposedly has a very talented bunch of software engineers. But how can they possibly compete on a global stage if there’s no power to run computers.

Power is just one example, but where’s the water, where are the clean shelters?

What is especially distressing is that Indians just seem to accept atrocities as a part of life. So protests die out quickly and everyone gets used to the suffering. Politicians keep trying to win elections based on religion and caste based issues.

Such instances make it obvious why a handful of foreigners could rule India for over a hundred years. Protesting and demanding rights, is just not part of the Indian psyche. We suffer at the hands of a foreign ruler and then our own leaders and yet we accept it as just a part of life.

Having said all this, even I have to take responsibility as apart from articles and blogs on things I feel are wrong, I haven’t really done much. Need to do more, lot more …..

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Cricket coverage on TV – Channels are milking the game dry

Have you been watching the India – England cricket matches on DD or on Sahara One? It doesn’t really matter as both channels are doing a pathetic job. Almost every over you miss the first ball as you are still viewing an ad while poor Pathan or Harbhajan is bowling his heart out to try and entertain you.

The last ball is actually even funnier as the batsman hits the ball to a fielder and as soon as the fielder touches the ball and it seems like there’s no run, you get an ad. So if there’s a runout or an overthrow happening in the background, the channel doesn’t think it’s that important for you to watch it live.

It’s painful that the channels are getting away with this and holding the nation to ransom. Cricket being the only popular sport in India, millions of Indians have no choice but to bear the torture.

Isn’t it part of the BCCI’s job to ensure that the channels stick to certain telcast standards? The administrators of the richest cricket board in the world are so busy with petty politics, grabbing power and ad money that they have no time for the game or its fans.

Cricket fans just don’t matter in India. Pack them into a stadium like a can of sardines with no water, no food, no shade and they will still pay to get to the stadium. Provide pathetic coverage on TV and the fans will accept it.
I had written about this to every Doordarshan admin email id I could find on the net and cced it to IndianTelevision.com. Of course no one ever replied.

Recently Zee grabbed the rights to some future cricket series. That’s just more bad news. As apart from ESPN-Star with Harsha Bhogle, Sunil Gavaskar… the other channels are just plain incompetent when it comes to broadcasting cricket matches.

So what I hope this blog will do is that you the reader will also bombard the channels with mails / phone / fax whatever and let them know that you are displeased. Below is a list of email and phone numbers that you can use. I have already written to most of the emails stated below. Don’t expect a reply but in all probability your mail will at least be read. Or just call the channel office.

** Indian Television Dot Com Pvt.Ltd.
317/318/319, Kuber Complex, Opp. Laxmi Ind. Estate, New Link Road, Andheri(W), Mumbai-53, India.
Email : television@vsnl.com, webmaster@indiantelevision.com.
Telephone: 91-22-26730660, 26730659, 26740642, 26740643
Fax: 91-22-26740644

** Sahara ONE
http://www.sahara-one.com/contactus.html
feedback@sahara-one.com

** Ministry of Information and Broadcasting
http://mib.nic.in/informationb/contactus/contact.asp

** Board of Cricket Control in India (BCCI)
Apparently they do not have an official website. Crazy but true. The politician infested body doesn’t have the time to create a useful website for the public.

** STAR TV INDIA
New Delhi
1st Floor, Central Wing, Thapar House
124 Janpath, New Delhi 110001, India
Tel: (91 11) 5249 4900
Fax: (91 11) 5104 9490
Website: www.star.co.in

** ESPN STAR
http://www.espnstar.com/corporate/contactus/corpo_contactus.html

** ZEE Sports

REGISTERED OFFICE
Zee Sports Limited
Continental Bldg, 135, Dr. Annie Besant Road,
Worli Mumbai 400 018 INDIA
Tel: (+91 22) 5697 1234

CORPORATE OFFICE

Zee Sports Limited
FC 18, Sector 16 A Film City
NOIDA UP 201 301 INDIA
Tel: (+91 120) 248 8101
FAX: (+91 120) 248 8110
info@zeesports.co.in

** Doordarshan

Download an Excel Sheet from http://www.ddindia.gov.in/Information/Contact+Us and you will get phone numbers and eail addresses to all DD centers across India. Note that their multiple sheets in the Excel file.

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TV Channel SMS scam

Every TV channel in India is today encouraging viewers to SMS to participate in polls, contests, shows and what not. However they do not tell the viewers that he SMS sent to the channel will be priced differently than a normal SMS. In some cases the SMS would cost Rs. 6, which is about 1/8th of a US dollar.

However NDTV has gone a step too far. They are running a campaign for a retrial of the Jessica Lal murder case. They want their viewers to send SMS in big numbers to voice their protest. So under the guise of a noble cause the channel is making thousands of rupees every hour. The poor mobile owner sends an SMS believing that he is either being charged a paltry sum and that he is helping a noble cause, but hat’s really happening is that he is making NDTV richer.

The channels do show a small caption that the SMS will be charged differently at Rs 5 or 6 or whatever, but you blink and you would miss the small line flashed somewhere in a remote corner of the screen.

Like cigarette packets have a statutory warning “Injurious to health”, it should be made compulsory for TV channels to show a caption “SMS being charged at Rs x” that takes up at the least 20% of screen space for more than 30 seconds. I intend to write to the information and broadcasting ministry, but if you are reading this and know someone who is addicted to SMSing TV channels, please make him/her aware.

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Religion in India – Faith vs Reason

In my previous post, I wrote about the absence of scientific temper in India and the need for those well informed, to voice their opinions against superstitions and customs that have chained our society.

India today seems completely at the mercy of ill-placed faith. Instead of individuals standing on the shoulders of faith and rising to a higher level, we find that it’s today working the other way round. As festivals, miracle babas and religious processions get bigger, they are further pulling down the person caught in it.

What’s worrying is that despite affluence and higher education getting to the cities, the queues outside temples on a so called auspicious day, just keep getting longer. Even youngsters are caught in this. What’s the sense in visiting temples on the day of an exam? Why would God be good to you only because you visited a certain temple on a certain supposedly auspicious day? Wouldn’t God find good deeds and behaviour, the only thing that mattered?

Astrology: The dates for most marriages are determined by astrology that has no logical or scientific basis. I unfortnately too complied with this and married on a day that was supposed to be auspicious. It wasn’t because I believed that marrying on that date and time would really make a difference, but more because I just played along with what the elders in the family decided.
I think that was a mistake and I should have refused to comply, as that would not only have helped me feel better about doing the right thing, but perhaps might have also built up some awareness at least amongst those close to me.
Vaastu Shastra: I saw a TV show about “Vaastu Shastra” (Art of Building) a few days back and the lady expert was confidently dishing out rubbish on live TV. If a person has come to a stage where he believes that the reason why his business is not doing well is that his toilets are facing in the wrong direction, then I think he needs immediate medical attention and not Vaastu Shastra.

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The Scientific Edge and its conspicuous absence in India

I am almost done reading the book “The Scientific Edge: The Indian Scientist from Vedic to Modern Times” by renowned scientist Jayant Narlikar. I have had this book for an year or so but for some reason I didn’t quite get to reading it. Perhaps, because I expected to read the normal glorification of India’s past and chapters about how ancient Indians were brilliant at a, b,c…

That would have been boring because that’s the crutch that Indians routinely lean on, to somehow feel at par with the developed nations. The problem with this approach is that we do not feel ashamed of still being so far away from being driven by science. Tradition and religion still determine a majority of things in the life on an Indian.

Dr. Narlikar takes a very practical approach to the subject. He does highlight ancient Indian science that has solid proof behind it, but he firmly puts his case against all claims that are based on hearsay. Things like if Lord Ram could fly in a craft in the epic Ramayana, ancient India had knowledge about building flying machines. He also delves on modern-day fads like “Vastu Shastra” and age old ones like astrology. I had no idea that the claim to “Vedic Mathematics” also was so hollow.

The book told me a lot of things about Indian science and astronomy, but the most important learning I have taken is to publicly voice my opinion against superstitions and in favor of the scientific approach. I have always privately aired my views against things like astrology, vastu shastra, zodiac signs, etc., but I now intend to be more vocal about it.

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Sharing a part of me

Thinking about writing this blog regularly, I feel a little like Ginny Weasley from the Harry Potter series. She wrote into Tom Marvolo Riddle’s magical diary and shared a little too much of herself. Tom Riddle happened to be Lord Voldemort, the evil wizard who killed Harry’s parents.

Anybody who is writing a blog is essentially giving out a part of himself/herself. That makes it very interesting. Never in the history of mankind would (insignificant) individual lives have been so well recorded. If all these blogs survive for say a 1000 years, I wonder what the archeologist of that time wil do. The blogs will tell everything about how the world was in the 21st century.

So the biggest hole in history, that of having insufficient records, has been plugged. Everything right from the downright rubbish to the extremely useful is now recorded. There’s no escaping the blog.

Then again, someday down the line all data in the world could get corrupted due to radition or magnetic field created by a meteor hititng the earth or whatever else u might have seen on the Discovery Channel..And poof! everything’s gone. Back to square one.

Did anybody bother to take prints? :)

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