Wednesday, December 23, 2009

"Charities are experiencing the toughest year"

This is totally true. 2009 was tough. 2010 does not look promising either.

"Charity" is considered as an optional-nice-to-have expenditure by all corporates and individuals. Needless to say, it becomes the first casualty of any frugality drive - either at home or corporate or global level (countries giving money through UN).

Frankly, $20 mil is too less for the size of Google. But I do assume that it is in addition to what it is already doing... via $20 mil is just an additional Christmas gift. Hope it is true.

in reference to: Happy Holidays from Google (view on Google Sidewiki)

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Why lacking conviction is sometimes good?

India is surrounded by neighbors with problems - big ones. As usual there are two sets of people - powerful and powerless. The powerful get greedy and forget that "with power always comes responsibility" (quote by Uncle Ben of Spiderman). They pick on the powerless. Encouraged by their dirty/easy success, they push the powerless to a corner.

In China, the powerless (Tibetian theocracy) dealt oppression with Gandhian non-violence. Whether they had any other choice is left for the historians to dissect. But Gandhian non-violence makes some basic assumptions - the oppressor has a conscience, the oppressor cares for his image in international politics. Attaining moral high ground was in itself the greatest weapon. for the oppressed. Unfortunately in this case, neither assumptions hold. Result: total failure.

In Srilanka, the powerless (Lankan Tamil) cornered themselves in the north and carved their own territory and exercised their God given right to equality. In guise of exercising their right, they violated the the Lankan right of national sovereignty. Perhaps, this was situation for which Gandhian non-violence was a tailor made solution. A democratically elected government was there. There was tamil representation in the electoral process. Yet, things got out of hand. There powerless we quite resourceful too... and hence became powerful in their own back yard. There started a new problem with in the bigger problem. The LTTE (the new powerful) estranged themselves from the common tamilian (still powerless). There are two powerful groups fighting against each other while the real powerless suffers. Result: total failure.

In Pakistan, the 3 groups of people are the cunning, the stupid and the intelligent. The cunning are running the government (and hence powerful) and intelligent are all in jail (physically or ideologically). Those who are neither counted as cunning nor as intelligent form the biggest group - the stupid who are stupid enough to repeatedly vote the cunning (either this one or that one) into power. They (the stupid - technically oppressed) have chosen the path of indifference to deal with their problems. They don't care if their own go hungry as long as they can see Indians in trouble. The rogues (the cunning) have managed to evoke such strong emotions among the stupid. Result: laughable failure

In most of Africa, there is very less differentiating the oppressor and the oppressed. In the grand scheme of things (world wide), they are both oppressed. The rest of world (developed world) is looting the continent of its resources with out it even realizing it. Immediate annihilation of perceived enemy tops the agenda of every warlord - leading to frequent violence, stagnant development. If every body involved just step back about 200 years and find reasons for their present state - they would all unite against the common enemy. The industrial world. Instead, their solutions (or even approach towards it) have always been short sighted and shows evidence of tunnel vision. Result: Pitiable failure

Putting that in perspective... in India, we have all sorts of problems - small ones. But none of those problems have grown out of proportion. We have all the makings of a colossal screw up. Yet, we do not fail. We are one of the success stories of recent times. One reason I can think of for this failure to fail is the lack of conviction. Indian rogues lack the conviction to do substantial evil and thank GOD (everybody's) for that.

Monday, March 16, 2009

NTSE / NMMS results - Karnataka - held on November, 2008

The NTSE (National Talent Search Examination) results for the state level exam held in the month of November, 2008 are out. Finally!! These pertain to students from 8th standard only.

The NMMS (National Means cum Merit Scholarship) results are expected by the end of this March 2009.

The NMMS results for 9th standard held in August 2008 is sent to their respective BEOs (Block Education Officers). Please contact them.

PS: Why I posted them here? Because google search is not picking up the DSERT site. Hoping that the right kewords will help pick this up.

Update: 07-April-2009
1. NMMS results are delayed apparently to some Delhi bureaucracy (Min of HRD). Expected by the end of this week (11-April-09).

2. NMMS students are not considered for NTSE second level exam even if they score more than NTSE cut-off. I urge the Head of schools to write to DSERT about it. More on this after analysing the NMMS results.

3. Some NMMS candidates were counted as if they appeared for NTSE exam. At least 2 cases found. Heads of schools and parents need to urge for more transperancy. At least for next year. Again, more on this after this year's results are out.
Update: 23-May-2009

DSERT keeps the best interest of students in mind. However, they are exhibiting acute "once bitten - twice shy" syndrome. Here goes the possibel (wink wink) explanation:

The cut off marks for this year's state level NTSE exam was 119. There are a handful of students who appeared for NMMS that have scored more than that. It makes good sense in order to provide them with most opportunities to be allowed to write national level NTSE exam also. So far so good.

If the students who sat for NMMS and got better marks also qualify for interview and get the NTSE national level scholarship - well and good. But if not, then they have to fall back on the 4 year NMMS scholarship amouting to Rs 24,000/-. Other students who get through only state level NTSE get approximately Rs 4800/- as scholarship over the period of 2 years. Hence the fall back mechanism is good.

Problem now is, untill the NTSE final results are out DSERT will not know the exact people who have to be given NMMS scholarship in each district. Hence the long wait.

Possible solutions:
Declare result for the rest - If lets say a district has a NMMS quota of 200 and 5 students have qualified to write national level NTSE, then declare result for teh rest 195 - say results of 5 people are pending. If 2 of those 5 go on to get NTSE notional level scholarship, then at that time announce results for the remaining 3 and 2 more students (who will be pleasantly surprised).

But I guess, the DSERT does not have confidence in its staff to pull out such a mechanism without goofing it up some where. If it goofs up the results it will be bad PR. Hence they are taking the safe route of doing everything at once... albiet very late.

No need to worry about amount:
AFAIK, the arrears scholarships will be given. No need to worry that if the results are delayed, you will get lesser amount.

PS: Keeping fingers crossed so that Mr Veerappa Moily gets HRD and not the other guy with white hair.

Update: 07-June-2009

DSERT claims that the NMMS results are finally dispatched the respective BEOs. Please check ASAP. However, the grape wine suggests that any body who got 36 marks in GMAT and SAT - all get the scholarship. Still, only 780-odd students qualify. While, the allotted scholarship for Karnataka is about 4 times that number. As ever, only successful students are intimated of the result - another BAD practice of DSERT.

The main reason for this poor show by Karnataka was the "out-of-sylabus" questions that came in the SAT paper. ~15 of them. These account to 16% of the marks. Hence, IMHO, the passing marks should be 20 and not 36. This exam was supposed to help the rural students - However, it has precisely avoided doing so.

Possible measures parents/head-masters can/should take:

1. File a RTI at DSERT to know the exact marks their child has got.
Cost: Rs 10/-

3. File another RTI to know exactly how many more scholarships are going waste this year.
Cost: Rs 10/-

2. If the marks >30 and Number of scholarships pending > number granted - then file a writ petition @ High Court of India requesting DSERT to remove the "out-of-syllabus" questions from the valuation so that the 40% pass-marks should be calculated only on the remaining questions.
Cost: I have no idea.

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

May you live in interesting times

It is an old Chinese saying... never able to categorize it - a curse or a blessing?

I always felt nothing much is happening in India since Emergency. Perhaps my ignorance of the situation in Punjab and Kashmir in the 80s and 90s makes me make this statement. There was this economic boom of late 90s... An occasional riot - an Ayodhya, a Godhra, a Singur, a Kandhamal... Regular scams - be it fodder, coffins or petrol pumps. We have won two cricket world cups, couple of medals at Olympics (bronze mostly). There is the mobile phone revolution. Satellite TV brought the world into our living rooms. Yet, it is still not interesting enough. There has been nothing that has captured the attention of our entire country. Even IPL failed to a get a decent response from the Incredible North East. Even after all these prosperity, it is not interesting... I do not have even one story that I can narrate to my grand-son.

We are so deprived of interesting things that our news channels today are obsessed with interesting things rumored to be happening in neighboring democratic state of Pakistan. It seems it is really getting interesting there. The Honorable President (erstwhile Mr 10%) is out of the country visiting the only country US fears in the whole Arab world - Iran (for a change, the fear may be reasonable). Doing what?

The Chief of Army (who happens to be the ISI chief. Some say he is retired... But I don't buy it.) meets the Prime Minister and secretly tells him that the Honorable President is plotting to remove him from government. Just like the way he removed most of the judges. All the judges and lawyers (Gosh, I never knew Pakistan has so many of them) have united (really, lawyers can stick together) and are siding with the opposition leader and marching to the capital.

Men in camouflage (read: army) have been reported to have fenced the capital with barbed wire. The present judiciary (he he, a joke) issues warrants against the only philanthropist in Pakistan, who is now gone into hiding. Those poor cancer patients would be wishing their grandfather had never got out of the attic in Amritsar 62 years ago.

In the mean while, somebody advises the Honorable President not to come back home for security reasons. TV channels report that the adviser is none other than The Chief of Army. (you slimy double crosser!!) The Honorable President follows every other Honorable President before him. Decides to enjoy the hospitality of the city of Dubai. I hear they have a indoor ski resort there... Even after much resistance the "Nero fiddling..." idiom comes to my head... Well then, Pakistan in spite of all the feudalism and warlords, is not much of a Rome any way. As if none of these happened, the Taliban are partying (in their own psychedelic way) in Swat Valley. Rave Party?

Across the ocean people in Langley and Arlington County are spending sleepless nights trying to figure out "Who is in charge of Pakistan?". Across the border though, Indian politicians are worried only about the upcoming elections. They perhaps know that Pakistan can wait until August to get India's attention. (yes, I know results of election will be out in May... I gave 3 months for the coalition drama to settle down)

In an unrelated incident, a man in Alabama, US went on a killing spree wiping out his entire family. This was not an single shoot out... he killed all his victims in different ways. Another teenager in Germany opened fire in a school killing 16. My analysis is that these are direct consequences of living in a boring country for too long. Guess what!!! The entire international media is covering these two boring random killings. In both cases, the killer is already apprehended or killed. Case closed. But this intriguing puzzle in Pakistan does not even appear on CNN's front page. So much so for East meets West.

PS: The Pakistan commentary my understanding of the situation from watching IBN live@7. Some fiction may have crept in. Believe at your own risk.

PPS: The only philanthropist is
cricketer Imran Khan. He has built a cancer institute cum Hospital in loving memory of his mother - whom he lost to cancer.

Thursday, January 01, 2009

Day 7: Celebration Rally

By 4:00 PM all riders had reached Jnana Bharati. The environment below fig tree had turned euphoric. A small party had started automatically. Drinks on the house - Tropicana, Gatorade or plain Aquafina. Some preferred Ganne-ka-juice. Starters included all chats - Masalapuri, Bhel and others. The joy and celebration attracted strange looks from curious on-lookers. It was a moment to remember for all riders and organizers alike. They wanted to immortalize the moment and posed for photos all around.

Standing:George, Datta Patil, Dickie, Naveen, Dipankar, Abhin, Francis, Sharath
Sitting :Ethesh, Dinesh, Iggy, Sriram

The above is a photograph that will be remembered for a long time. It is a School Annual Photo of Dickie School of cycling. No guess who is the head-master. But this is one head master we all love.

Night Riders: Kaushik, Kamesh, Deeksha, Francis, Babu.
Then there is another group that navigated the Mysore traffic in the dark behind a support car. They enjoyed it so much that they now want to ride only after sun down. They call themselves "The Night Riders".

Mysore Road Flyover traffic stopped for TFN

Quarter of an hour later, the police escort arrived. They made quick checks on their walkie-talkie and signaled a "all-green" for us. That meant, the cyclists would be given VIP treatment all the way from Jnana Bharathi to Cubbon Park. All intersections would be closed so that we could get through traffic. The entire group of cyclists followed two support cars behind the police escort. Any comparison to 150 cyclists riding down the Champs-Elysees was only natural. It would be just like comapring a tender sapling that grows into a huge tree. TFN has all the making of a great event in cycling calendar.

Mysore Road Flyover traffic stopped for TFN
People started posing again for memorabilia photos. The two pillars of TFN - Raviranjan & Rajesh Nair. These are the folks who started the idea of touring South Indian mountains during Christmas. That snowballed into TFN with able help from Abhi, Pradeep, Deepak, Sathish, Sharath, Modi, Nilesh, Amit, Shrikanth, Sridhar, Arun... and the list continues... Thanks a lot guys.

Once we reached Cubbon park we rode past Vidhana Soudha - the most attractive landmark in Bangalore. It was a spectacle worth watching. 50 cyclists riding past. All the other traffic stopped by themselves watching us. We reached Cubbon park again to interact with the press that had been waiting. Tv-9, Suvarna, E-TV, Udaya - all the news channels were there. Lot of riders, organizers talked to the media. Waiting to see how much coverage we will get in the next few days. I will post here as I find it.

Bike Salute: Ethesh, Naveen, Kamesh, Francis

Sukhdev & Rajesh Lifted by other riders

Again at the Cubbon park, the celebration continued. Hi-fives, three cheers, bike salutes - you name it, they did it. Words can not describe the electricity in the air. I will not even try. If you are feeling left out, then let me remind you that registrations are already open for TFN09. Dattatreya Patil announcing award to Sukhdev
Dattatreya Patil, the grape-farmer from Sanghli had a surprise announcement to make. Every year his cycling club at Sanghli will identify an exceptional cycling talent between the ages of 11-15 and confer a "young achiever" award named after Swami Vivekananda. Previous recipients of this award have gone ahead and represented their states and country in cycling events. This year he announced that this award would be given to our own Sukhdev.

The message is clear : If 50 riders with no prior experience in endurance sports can do 919 Kms, any one can do a 10Km commute on a bicycle. Bangalore!! Get back on the saddle - for a green future.